Soccer players and fans are aware that the game has eleven positions on the field at any point. For injury-conscious aspiring players, there might come a point where you may wonder which position offers more danger compared to the rest.
This article answers the question “What is The Most Dangerous Position In Soccer?” by discussing what position puts players at the highest risk of injury. Alternative positions that could make players susceptible to injury are also discussed.
What Is The Most Dangerous Position In Soccer?
Goalkeeping is the most dangerous position in soccer although they may not have as many encounters with opposition players, unlike midfielders and strikers. However, the risk of injury during the relatively limited physical contact is highest for goalies. Common causes of injury include collisions and other forms of accidental contact even with their own teammates.
There’s a common misconception that goalies have a field day on the playing field since they are only called into action when the ball is in their penalty area. This couldn’t be further from the truth because although goalkeepers may see relatively little of the ball, the danger posed during the limited contact can be excessive.
Soccer is a complex contact sport and unfortunately, injuries will always be a part of it. Generally, the higher the amount of physical contact a player is exposed to, the higher the risk of injury sustenance. Forwards and advanced midfielders experience heavier contact with opposition players due to the advanced nature of their position on the field.
Defenders regard strikers as the key to scoring and are always on hand to stop them at all costs. No wonder strikers are more susceptible to injury than any other position on the field. However, goalkeepers appear as runners-up in the majority of studies that delve into the prevalence of soccer injuries among players based on positions.
This is because goalies are exposed to more serious injuries despite relatively less physical contact with other players in the course of 90 minutes. Anyone who has played soccer professionally or in amateur circles freely admits that the severity of the injuries suffered by keepers also tends to be much higher.
So not only are goalkeepers at a higher risk of injury from the limited encounters with other players on the field but the severity could also be higher. No wonder keepers are allowed to appear on the field with protective gear to minimize the risk of injury.
What Makes Goalkeepers The Most Dangerous Position In Soccer?
Soccer may be relatively safe compared to alternative sports but players are still susceptible to various kinds of injury. Here are the reasons why goalkeepers are the most dangerous soccer position.
1. Goalkeepers Face The Opposition Regardless of The Risks
Goalkeepers are expected to face the opposition at all costs by putting their bodies on the line. Regardless of how much physical danger a goalie may be in, it is their job to block all balls out of their goalposts regardless of the angle.
Many outfield players shy away from tackles or balls that could potentially put them at a high risk of danger without drawing attention to themselves. Can you imagine how much abuse any goalkeeper would suffer from shying away from a ball that is in danger of entering their nets?
Goalkeepers are expected to be fearless throughout the 90 minutes of play and while coaches frequently advise forwards not to risk injury especially when the team is in a commanding lead, goalies who show the slightest signs of fear in the discharge of their duties end up on the bench latest by the next game.
2. Goalkeepers Are The Last Line Of Defence Against Powerful Shots
Goalkeepers are expected to keep out even the most powerful shots regardless of the injury risks. During setpieces like freekicks, many defenders are seen ducking away from such shots leaving goalkeepers at the mercy of the ball.
Strikers like Cristiano Ronaldo have made a career out of taking extremely powerful shots that put goalies at a high risk of injury during saving attempts. Even contact with those balls could lead to hand and wrist injuries despite wearing protective gloves.
However, nobody cares about what risks goalies face trying to keep out such shots. From head collisions with the goalposts to awkward landings that may break the bones, keepers are expected to put their bodies on the line in every single game.
3. Goalkeepers Sometimes Need To Come Off Their Lines
Goalkeepers are expected to come off their lines in various periods of the game, especially when an opponent breaks through on goal. Good goalies do not only react with speed but also put their bodies on the line despite a high risk of getting kicked or stamped on by opponents.
The physical contact with the opposition player in such scenarios can be pretty intense putting keepers at a high risk of injuries. Coming off the line also increases the risk of a goalkeeper being humiliated by the striker after unsuccessful attempts at physical contact with the ball.
Keepers could easily suffer a red card, penalty, or both when the timing is slightly inaccurate or illegal contact is judged by the referee.
4. Goalkeepers Need To Win Aerial Balls At All Costs
Aerial balls are another area of danger goalkeepers face during the discharge of their duties. During free kicks, corner kicks, and throw-ins, goalies are expected to challenge for and win aerial duels regardless of the physical dangers involved.
The charged nature of such duels often leads to collisions with opponents and sometimes the goalkeeper’s own teammates. Missing these aerial balls could prove disastrous which is why goalkeepers put in their best to ensure physical contact is made.
The result is an increased risk of concussions and other severe injuries when the goalie collides with other players or even falls down on the ground after accidental slipping.
5. Goalkeepers Need To React Quickly To Defensive Errors
Central defenders commit defensive errors from time to time and goalkeepers are required to clean them up. Imagine a center-back losing possession right in front of his team’s 18-yard box in the middle of an important game.
Goalkeepers are immediately put on the spot to save the day which could increase the risk of injury or even illegal physical contact with an opponent player. The goalie may end up taking the fall for a red card or conceding a penalty from the incident despite the defender’s actions prior to the goalkeeper being forced to step in.
6. Goalkeepers Face More Competition Than Other Players
Goalies face more competition than outfield players which increases the pressure they face to deliver in every game. Out of the 11 positions on the soccer field, only one goalkeeper is allowed in the game which often puts them under significant pressure.
One bad game could result in a first-choice goalkeeper being banished to the sidelines for good when the replacement goalie impresses. Just ask Liverpool’s Loris Karius who has never played for the club again four years after two costly mistakes in the Champions League final against Real Madrid.
Despite public defense by his manager Jurgen Klopp, Karius has been shipped out on loan several times since that game. Liverpool broke the world record for a goalkeeper in Alisson Becker and have never looked back at Karius ever since.
7. Goalkeepers Are Expected To Save Penalties
Goalkeepers are expected to save penalties despite a success rate of only 18 percent, according to the statistics. It is not uncommon for games to go to penalty kicks during the knockout stages of tournaments where a winner must emerge.
Fans and teammates put a lot of hope in their goalkeepers to save the opponent’s penalty kicks during such situations. Goalkeepers unable to save a few of these penalties may end up getting abused by fans. Even teammates can lose confidence in such goalies even if they won’t say it out loud.
What is The Easiest Position in Soccer
Fullback is the easiest soccer position due to the limited contact with the ball and minimal responsibility compared to the other positions. Fullbacks are neither expected to be the most talented members of the team nor blamed for conceded goals, unlike center backs and goalkeepers.
Some of the best all-conquering soccer teams have triumphed with averagely talented fullbacks like Gary Neville and Alvaro Arbeloa.
Conclusion: What Is The Most Dangerous Position In Soccer?
The goalkeeper is the most dangerous soccer position thanks to the charged nature of contact with other players on the field. While goalies may not see as much of the ball as other positions, they face a lot of danger in the relatively few times the ball comes into their 18-yard area.
Goalkeepers are required to save all balls from entering their nets despite the injury risks even after defenders and other teammates have conveniently ducked them. They are also required to win aerial challenges and save even the most powerful shots.
Goalkeepers face a lot of competition since only one can play the game at any point, unlike outfield players. The pressure to perform in every game is high because the position is unforgivable and one mistake could cost a goalkeeper’s place on the team forever.