JOHANNESBURG - England are struggling to develop world class goalkeepers due to the number of foreign players between the posts at the leading Premier League clubs, former Germany international Oliver Kahn said on Friday.
England and Germany, who clash in the World Cup second round on Sunday, have produced many of Europe's finest keepers down the years but Kahn said the English production line had ground to a halt while Germany still had many promising youngsters.
"England had a great tradition of goalkeepers like Peter Shilton, Ray Clemence, David Seaman and, going further back, Gordon Banks," said the 41-year-old Kahn, who played 86 times for his country between 1994 and 2006.
"Now in England you have a situation where many foreign goalkeepers are playing for the top clubs like Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal.
"That makes it very difficult for them to develop an English goalkeeper who will develop into a No.1 world class keeper," he told a news conference.
England coach Fabio Capello had a difficult call to make before the World Cup about who his first choice would be out of David James, 40 in August, Robert Green, 30, or Joe Hart, 23.
He opted for Green in the opening match against the United States but the goalkeeper's howler, allowing a speculative shot from Clint Dempsey to squirm through his hands and roll agonisingly over the line, saw the jersey given to James.
Germany coach Joachim Low chose 24-year-old Manuel Neuer as his first choice ahead of the older Tim Wiese, 28, and Hans-Jorg Butt, 36, after Rene Adler, 25, suffered a rib injury before the tournament and had to pull out of the squad.
Although Neuer only has eight caps and is inexperienced at this level, Kahn believes he is the right man for the job and that Germany are still able to nurture top goalkeepers.
Neuer is at Schalke 04 but Kahn hinted he would eventually play for the country's biggest club, Bayern Munich, who have been chasing him for the last 12 months.
"In Germany it is different (from England). Bayern Munich, for example, has a policy that Germany's No.1 goalkeeper needs to be in their team and there are many German goalkeepers playing in the Bundesliga.
"Neuer is still a very young goalkeeper. He's had many positive experiences and few negative ones to look back on. He became a European champion with the Under-21s and is full of self-confidence. He sees himself positively and as a winner."
As far as Sunday's match is concerned, Kahn was sitting firmly on the fence in terms of predictions, saying: "England v Germany? It's a traditional, classic duel, a battle.
"England are a very experienced side with many top stars from the Premier League. Germany are a young inexperienced team, but they do play a lovely game of passing football, which is actually not quite typical of German football.
"As to the result, we will have to wait and see."comments