Goalkeepers wear gloves for enhanced grip and greater control of the ball. While modern technology has made them highly effective, goalie gloves weren’t always in common use. In fact, they have an obscure history stretching back to the late-1800s.
From the first goalie gloves made of cotton to modern gloves made of polyurethane, read on to find out the history of goalkeeper’s gloves.
Early Goalie Gloves
While the first goalie gloves appeared in 1970, the idea of protecting the hands and increasing grip effectiveness are much older. In fact, businessman William Sykes patented the first football gloves in around 1885.
Even though Sykes managed to patent his designs, he never mass-produced them. It would take more than 50 years before keepers opted to wear goalie gloves in matches. The first goalkeeper to do so was Amadeo Carrizo from Argentina. He wore cotton gloves in the 1940s and 50s.
Carrizo wasn’t the only goalkeeper to wear gloves in his era, but he was certainly the most prominent. Interestingly, he was also the first keeper to leave the penalty area, passing the ball to teammates and taking part in open play. Today, this style is called the “sweeper-keeper” and is a feature of the game at all levels. Germany and Bayern Munich’s Manuel Neuer are perhaps the leading exponent of the “sweeper-keeper” role.
The First Modern Gloves
In the 1966 World Cup, England’s Gordon Banks wore gloves and was the first to advocate their use in matches. After the tournament, he experimented with many different types of gloves. Four years later, in 1970, he wore the first purpose-made goalie gloves.
Made of cotton and covered with rubber slips, he would inspire many other goalkeepers to wear gloves in the future.
His understudy, Peter Bonetti, received the first personalised brand. Sondico wanted to push for broader glove usage, and many other sports brands were eager to promote their own products. Adidas was among the other companies that developed new and innovative types of goalkeeper gloves.
At this point, many goalkeepers chose not to wear gloves. It would take many improvements before they truly became a standard in the game.
Advancements in Technology
Despite the gloves becoming more mainstream, it took another decade to integrate new features. The first was wrist support straps, which offered extra protection from powerful shots. The straps also kept the latex covering from moving, enhancing the goalkeeper’s grip.
The next significant upgrade was the roll finger grip, which consisted of a layer of latex wrapped around each finger. Compared to the flat-palm glove design, it gave goalies a more secure grip of the ball. The stitching was placed at the base of each finger to prevent touching the ball and reduce damage.
During the mid-90s, Adidas introduced another new and innovative feature. The company developed the Fingersave Series. Plastic splints were inserted along the back of the glove fingers to offer more protection to the goalkeeper’s hands.
This feature reduced the impact that forced the goalie’s fingers to bend backwards. The splits significantly reduced the chances of injury and have influenced glove design ever since.
Gloves of Today
Since the days of Amadeo Carrizo and Gordon Banks, there have been many more advancements in glove technology. Manufacturers have developed specialised gloves and even returned to older designs to give them a new lease of life.
Gloves with little wrist support that maximise the range of motion are now available. Newer latex palm gloves have a negative cut design. Instead of stitching being on the exterior, it’s now all within the glove for a tighter fit and increased control.
The Essential Accessory
Today, there are hundreds of different goalie glove models available. With improvements in grip and overall performance, they are rightly seen as an essential piece of equipment for goalkeepers of all levels. From training gloves to matchday gloves, a goalkeeper’s kitbag isn’t complete with the latest in cutting-edge designs.
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