Picture the scene. You are an attacker bearing down on goal and about to get your moment of glory by smashing the ball into the back of the net and accept the adulations of your fans. Suddenly, a massive figure comes charging out towards you at pace and before you know it your face is planted in the dirt and you feel groggy. As you lift your face off the turf with hurt pride you see the intimidating build gripping the ball with two palms.
This Keeper has had quite a career already, two trophies, England Caps and the record for the fastest sending off ever in the English game. Not bad for a Twenty-Three year old. He started his career at Millwall where he made one substitute appearance for them before helping Dover Athletic gain promotion to Conference South. He was released and joined Ebbsfleet following an unsuccessful stint at Grays Athletic. Since then he has never looked back.
In October he celebrated his one-hundredth appearance for the club by keeping a clean sheet in a goalless draw with Alfreton Town and hopefully he may one day emulate the two-hundred appearances by his predecessor in the Fleet goal, Lance Cronin. However, he will be a football league, if not premier league, goalkeeper before long. After playing superbly for the England ‘C’ side (England non-league team) of late he has attracted wider attention and there are undoubtedly scouts looking at him.
But what makes him so good? What warrants these compliments? What makes him better than the herd? Well for one he is incredibly fast for one. He was a superb runner in his youth and did consider entering that field (pardon the pun) rather than football. This explains why he is so fast, which is very useful when running out to collect balls even if it means running out into what many goalkeepers refer to ‘No man’s land’ (close to halfway line)
His athletic ability is not just limited to running, he is very flexible hence when crosses go in the air he is always favourite to grab the ball from any on rushing strikers even if they are even larger figures also up for the challenge. Also, he has made countless flying saves, where the Fleet would be without him is a prospect I dread to consider.
His leadership qualities are undoubted, although he is not the captain of his club he instructs his defence in the manor goalkeeping legends such as Harold Schumacher, Oliver Kahn and Peter Shilton did in their prime. Even if you are at the other end of the pitch you can still hear the young goalie barking instructions at his backline. If he wants the ball passed back to him, he gets the ball passed back to him. If he wants his defence to spread out, they spread out. If he wants the defence to push up, by Jove they will push up. That is really the best way of summarising his leadership abilities, when he wants something to be done it will be done. Even the club captain Paul Lorraine, who is Ebbsfleet’s version of Tony Adams, does not argue with Preston such as his dominance.
You may not have heard of this name before or indeed heard for the club he currently plays for (You may have seen that video of him getting red carded within ten seconds of a game) but before too long you will know who this Keeper is. To amend a quote from a famous commentator made about Wayne Rooney when he scored as a sixteen-year-old for Everton against the Arsenal, ‘Remember the name – Preston Edwards.’