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28 October 2014
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Bruce Grobbelaar

Bruce Grobbelaar on Reading FC, Jerzy Dudek and Robert Mugabe

Legendary Liverpool goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar was in Berkshire this week, paying a visit to Reading Town football club for a penalty shootout competition.

As balding as ever but charmingly undeterred, Bruce Grobbelaar was in Reading on a promotional tour for a shampoo company.

He was courteous and friendly throughout, facing penalties without his trademark wobbly legs, and signing countless autographs.

His heyday came at Liverpool in the 1980's, signed from Canadian club Vancouver Whitecaps for £250,000 by Bob Paisley in March 1981.

His eccentric and often erratic style masked an agile and supremely skillful ability.

audio Bruce Grobbelaar: 'Like a starfish at aerobics' >
Audio and Video links on this page require Realplayer
Bruce Grobbelaar jumping for joy
Grobbelaar was renowned for his sense of fun

Click the link above to hear BBC Berkshire's resident Liverpool fan Andy Stevenson speak to Bruce Grobbelaar, or read excerpts of the interview below.

You can also hear the interview on BBC Radio Berkshire's Sportsweek programme from 6pm on Friday 8 June.

How closely do you follow English football?

"All the time. There's only one team to follow and that's Liverpool."

And what about Reading? They surprised everyone in their debut season in the Premiership...

"They didn't surprise me because they've got a very good manager in Steve Coppell and a great owner who wants Reading Football club to be in the Premier League for a long time.

They've done it in the right way, nice and quietly, and they've got their just reward."

What do you make of the standard of today's goalkeepers?

"I think English goalkeeping is on the decline. It's not at the standard it was in the 1970's, 80's and 90's.

But the best goalkeeper in Britain at the moment is David James. He should be back in the national team."

Goalkeepers have a bit more to deal with these days would you say? They have to be more all-round players...

Grobbelaar with Liverpool teammates in 1984
Grobbelaar was part of Liverpool's 80's dominance

"Yes, I was probably 10 years ahead of my time and that was just how I played the game. You have to be an athlete and an outfield player too now."

With Ibrahima Sonko and Andre Bikey, Reading fans know as well as anyone that African football is on the up...

"I wouldn't say that actually. There's a lot of talent coming out of Africa at the moment but politically it's a bad area to come from.

So if African players come over here they have to be very good. You also have the issue of HIV AIDS over in Africa which is rife right across the continent."

You mention politics. The situation in Zimbabwe means that in sporting circles the country is becoming isolated...

"Zimbabwe is very bad at the moment. The Government is not helping itself or it's people. They get persecuted.

Mugabe's regime gives rural people food for their votes so the only way we can break that is when Robert Mugabe finally goes."

Let's finish by talking about football again. I've always wanted to ask what you thought of Jerzy Dudek's imitation of your spaghetti legs during the 2005 Champions League final...

"There's no way he did a Bruce Grobbelaar. He did a Jerzy Dudek.

Grobbelaar and Dudek in penalty shootouts
Bruce Grobbelaar (left) and Jerzy Dudek

When I did my spaghetti legs that's how I was feeling. I bit the net at the back of the goal and it looked like spaghetti, so that's what I did.

In those days I had to keep my feet on the ground till the ball was kicked. With Jerzy, because of the new laws, he was allowed to move across his line.

He looked like a starfish in an aerobics class and he did very well."

Part of you must wish you played for Liverpool now with all the money coming into the club...

"Good luck to the current players. They are finely tuned athletes.

In my day, we played more for fun and that's why there were more characters around then.

Wait till they get the Witch Doctor back to Anfield!"

last updated: 08/06/07
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