Grevel Lindop

Poet, biographer, critic, essayist and writer on just about everything

Literary Goalies…

Not quite my usual topic of expertise, football goalkeeping, but it is a little known fact that many a great literary / political figure has played in the position of goalkeeper. A disproportionately high number indeed. The interesting argument has in fact recently been advanced that of any position on the football field, a history of having played in the position of goalkeeper, as the most cerebral and strategic of them all, is much more highly correlated with a literary and creative career than any other.

Albert Camus: goalkeeper. In fact played in Algeria at a high level as a youngster before revolutionising the world of Philosophy with the French Existentialist movement. The classic Camus quote: “All that I know most surely about morality and obligations I owe to football.”

Pope John Paul II: goalkeeper. Obviously not while holding the position of head of the Catholic Church, but apparently played in goal at university.

Luciano Pavarotti: yes, a bit hard to believe, but perhaps the big man wasn’t always so big… Reported to have had a shot at a professional career with Italian football side Modena. Had to settle for performing at the World Cup during half time instead!

This goalkeeping blog ( even claims that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was a goalkeeper, but I’m not sure if I buy that…
A fan of both Camus and goalkeeping – it is a friend of mine, who runs a website that sells goalkeeper gloves and kit,, who makes these claims about goalkeepers being cleverer than the average footballer. As a goalkeeper, he may be slightly biased. So does anybody know of any other good examples of famous non-professional goalkeepers?

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