The Best FIFA Football Awards
- FIFA giving Goalkeeper of the Year award for fourth time
- Slovenian Jan Oblak one of many nominees for 2020
- “I’m a keeper because I copied my father as a kid.”
In any dialogue in regards to the world’s finest goalkeepers, the identify Jan Oblak invariably comes up. The Slovenian, now in his seventh season at Atletico Madrid, the place he’s captain and one of many pillars of Diego Simeone’s facet, has been nominated for The Best FIFA Men’s Best Goalkeeper for 2020.
Oblak all the time cuts a restrained and composed determine between the sticks, even in probably the most troublesome moments, maybe most memorably his efficiency at Anfield within the final version of the UEFA Champions League.
FIFA.com chatted with the 27-yr-outdated who shared with us his childhood desires, the important thing to these ‘miracle’ saves, and his want to win titles with the Los Rojiblancos.
FIFA.com: Despite a inhabitants of simply over two million, Slovenia has produced many elite athletes, together with NBA stars, cyclists like Tadej Pogacar and Primoz Roglic, and also you… What’s the key?
Jan Oblak: It’s true that we have now some superb athletes in each particular person and workforce sports activities. We’ve all the time had nice basketball gamers, in addition to footballers who’ve excelled… I feel it is right down to our actual love of sport and our mentality. We don’t lose our heads simply, which is a superb asset in sport.
When did you begin taking part in soccer?
As a baby I practiced many various sports activities, however soccer was all the time my precedence. My father performed, although not as a professional, and he too was a goalkeeper. So, I imitated him as a result of I wished to be like him. That’s why I wished to be a keeper from a younger age. Initially, I performed up entrance for a few video games, however I all the time wished to be in purpose.
I nonetheless love different sports activities like basketball, tennis… I follow them and luxuriate in watching them too, and earlier than I turned skilled, I additionally skied a lot.
Did you develop up admiring any specific keeper or outfield participant?
When I watched video games involving Europe’s prime groups, I all the time studied the goalkeepers. And since a participant’s type can range from season to season, one yr I would like Buffon and the following yr Casillas, or Schmeichel or Dida when at AC Milan… They had been all keepers I admired, however my first idol was my father.
Was being the very best goalkeeper on the earth a childhood dream?
When I used to be little there wasn’t that a lot worldwide soccer on TV, so my first dream was to play for the membership the place I used to be coaching. Then you progress and start fulfilling desires, as new ones take form. When I realised I may grow to be a skilled and play at a excessive stage, I began dreaming about being the very best and successful as many titles as doable. That’s what you practice for day-after-day.
How do you are feeling now that there’s a devoted class recognising the work of goalkeepers at The Best Awards?
People often deal with who’s scoring the targets and never on who’s stopping them. There are nice goalkeepers who’ve by no means been recognised as the very best. And in the long run, on the sphere of play, we’re all the identical: some gamers have to attain targets and a few should cease them, so it is good to have a goalkeeping award. That means, some keepers might be recognised not solely with plaudits like ‘you’re performing properly’, however with the prospect to select up prizes when awards are given out. It’s good for soccer, for us and for the followers.
This yr you’ve been nominated for The Best alongside Alisson, Courtois, Navas, Neuer and Ter Stegen. What would it imply to you to win this trophy?
It would be very good. Being nominated already reveals you are heading in the right direction. Yes, they’re particular person awards, however they go hand in hand with collective achievements. In the tip, the goalkeepers and gamers who’ve the very best likelihood of successful The Best are those that’ve gained the Champions League, their nationwide league, and so on. Winning workforce titles is what offers you the very best likelihood of selecting up these particular person awards.
We didn’t handle to try this final season, however I’m nonetheless glad to be nominated. Winning would be a spectacular factor each for me and Atleti, as a result of the goalkeeper would not play alone. In order to be nominated and have a likelihood of successful, you want the assistance of your workforce.
Some of your stops in recent times may very well be referred to as ‘miraculous’, as they prevented sure targets, equivalent to your triple save towards Bayer Leverkusen. Do you’ve any favourites?
For positive that triple save is the one most-talked about when my identify comes up, and it’ll most likely proceed to seem on television or the Internet for a few years. However, I’m not somebody who fixates on a particular save. Each one is vital since you forestall a purpose (laughs).
Also, often you’ve saves that may seem simple however, because the goalkeeper, you already know that they had been tougher than one maybe at full stretch that appears very good in a photograph. It has to do with positioning.
Speaking of positioning, what would you say is your most important goalkeeping talent?
Placement is likely one of the most vital. If you are all the time in the correct place, or at least attempt to be, then your job is less complicated, and you’ve got much less work to do. Every workforce performs a completely different means, so every coach will process his goalkeeper with one thing particular, and in the long run you do what the coach asks of you. If he asks you to play along with your toes, you then play along with your toes; if he asks you to ship the ball a good distance up-subject, you then try this too… But of my specific qualities, I’m positive one in every of my finest attributes is my positioning.
Being in purpose you’ve a distinctive perspective of the motion going down on the pitch. Given that, are you the type of keeper who communicates a lot with workforce-mates or solely on sure events?
I’m pretty good at anticipating, so I speak a lot throughout video games. It’s not that I’m the ‘intelligent one’ at the again who sees issues higher than anybody else (laughs), however I attempt to assist my workforce-mates, particularly the centre- and wing-backs, and defensive midfielders. Sometimes I see gaps that they don’t realise they’ve left, or others behind them that they will’t see. The extra you speak and talk on the sphere, the better it’s for everybody. We all assist one another in that means.
You’ve gained the Zamora Trophy 4 instances for conceding the fewest targets in La Liga and this season have conceded solely 4 targets in 11 matches. Is selecting up that prize once more amongst your targets?
I do not deal with particular stats, as a result of issues can change in a short time and instantly you’ve let in a number of targets in consecutive video games. Rather than specializing in that prize, I attempt to concede as few targets as doable, as a result of it offers you a higher likelihood of successful.
Atleti have began properly within the league and at present sit second, three factors away from Real Madrid and 9 forward of Barcelona. There’s additionally the Champions League, which you got here so near successful in 2016. If you had to decide on one title for this season, which would it’s?
I can not choose one, as a result of I’d prefer to win all of them. It’s very difficult, as a result of we play in a league the place there are prime groups, and the identical goes for the Champions League… We’ve been near the Champions League with out truly successful it, however I’ve religion we are able to realise our dream of claiming it. So no, I haven’t got a most popular title. As lengthy as I’m at Atleti, I’m going to attempt to win all the pieces I contest, and hopefully this yr we are able to win one thing. In the league we’re heading in the right direction, however there’s a lengthy approach to go. We’ve acquired to maintain doing what we’re doing.
Fans often idolise attacking gamers, however the Atleti supporters adore you and have devoted songs to you. Do you are feeling such as you’ve discovered your home there?
When I first arrived, there have been some powerful months, however once I started beginning video games, I all the time felt the general public’s affection. I miss not having them within the stadium as of late. I do know I’m appreciated by the individuals right here, and my job right here is to assist the membership. A participant by no means is aware of how lengthy he will be at a membership, however I’ve been right here seven years and, to this point, all the pieces’s gone properly. Everything is less complicated when the followers such as you, as a result of it offers you confidence and helps you be the very best you may.
We began by speaking about your nation’s superb potential to provide prime athletes, however clearly it’s tougher to qualify with Slovenia for a main nationwide-workforce event. What would it imply to achieve a FIFA World Cup or EURO?
When I used to be a boy, I noticed Slovenia qualify for EURO 2000 after which the 2002 World Cup. We later reached the 2010 version too. Having seen how glad individuals had been, I’d like to convey that pleasure again to the nation – and never only for them. For me, taking part in at a World Cup or EURO would be the fulfilment of a childhood dream, so I’m going to do all the pieces I can to attain it.
All winners, together with these of the FIFA Fan Award and the FIFA Fair Play Award, can be topped on 17 December 2020 in a TV present broadcast stay, beginning at 19:00 CET.
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