The forgotten World Cup XI series profiles one legendary star who has been sadly overlooked (for reasons of talent or otherwise) of football’s favourite tournament in each position.
Goalkeeper: Kasey Keller
Who is he?
In an era that bred the likes of Zdravko Zdravkov, Wolfgang Knaller and Tim Flowers, Kasey Keller understandably slipped under the goalkeeping radar of international football in the 1990s. However, his name forever lives on in the hearts and minds of those lucky enough to catch even just a glimpse of his excellence.
American and spectacled, Keller played as a goalkeeper, starring for a range of teams, from the Portland Pilots to the Portland Timbers, made a whole load of appearances for Millwall, very few appearances for Southampton, and retired at the age of 41. For want of not drowning the man in flattery, he came runner-up in the 1998 Honda Player of the Year award, very nearly won 1990 Western Soccer League Top Goalkeeper, and just missed out on winning the Bundesliga by the narrow margin of 33 points.
Who was he with at the World Cup?
‘The Kase’ managed to worm his way into four World Cups with the USA squad, after being overlooked initially for the one in 1994, despite playing a pivotal role in Millwall’s relegation season and putting in some fine performances against the likes of Port Vale, Tranmere Rovers and Barnsley.
Each time he would have to do battle with his fellow compatriot between the sticks, Brad Friedel – who, to avoid going into too much detail, is also an American man – and evidently won, as he equalled the record number of World Cup appearances for the USA with Claudio Reyna in 2006.
What was his highlight?
As a goalkeeper, Keller faced a dichotomy in which his highlight also happened to take place in one of the most boring matches ever played out in international football ever: a clean sheet versus Brazil in 1998.
However, any lunatic who insisted on watching all 90 minutes would have seen the K-man make a nice, round ten saves. To put that into perspective, that’s ten more saves than Brad Friedel made who, to be fair to him, was watching from the bench.
Unbelievably, his performance was immortalised by the band Barcelona, who wrote a song titled ‘Kasey Keller’ and included the line “Wait for the half time break-io”, confirming that everyone who watched the match to the end was indeed bonkers.
Where on Earth is he now?
After living out his career in lavish luxury, Keller decided to go back to his humble roots (living on an egg farm) by purchasing a 1,000-year old castle in Germany – near a farm. He now works as an analyst for ESPN, where he comments on the Seattle Sounders games at the half time break-io.
What did he say?
“I was at a party at Brad Evans’ house and I realised I was closer in age to his parents.”