US SoccerUS Soccer

Center Circle Extra: After 8,370 Keller Keeps on Keepin' On

U.S. international goalkeeper Kasey Keller is about to achieve a unique milestone in his career, especially considering his, er..experience.  With a complete game against Wolverhampton in the season ending match for Tottenham this weekend, Keller will have played every minute of every game for Spurs for two straight seasons.  That’s 76 league games, four F.A. Cup matches and six Worthington Cup contests.  If you count back to March 30, 2002, and the close of the 2001-02 campaign, you total 93 games and 8,370 consecutive minutes in goal for Kasey.  Oh, and the next time Keller grabs a ‘W’ for the red, white and blue, he hits number one on the all-time U.S. charts as well.  Needless to say, Keller is feeling quite content … Can you recall the last time you heard of a goalkeeper with a streak like this?

Kasey Keller: “Not that I can remember.  Last season was the first time I had played every minute of every game, and that was my 12th year as a professional, so doing it back-to-back at this stage of my career is very satisfying.  I’m happy to have maintained both the form and fitness to be able to achieve that.”  It’s certainly an impressive run at any age, but at 34 you must be pleased to be able to maintain that high a level.

KK: “The best part is I’m still there doing it day in and day out.  I’m not just being patched together to get on the field every week.  Sure, there are times throughout the year when you feel it, but I don’t think I’ve missed more than five training sessions all year.”  How do you feel physically? 

KK: “As good as I ever have.  No question.  Since my time in Spain, I’ve been very happy with the training I get day in and day out.  It makes a difference when you feel like you’re doing what’s needed to be prepared.  It keeps you on the ball and prevents injury as well.  I’m seeing a lot more work in training in terms of crosses, shots, and things like that.  I’m doing much more in training than I do in games.” Considering the situation when you first came to Tottenham with Neil Sullivan as the number one ‘keeper, how gratifying is it to have established yourself so well?

KK: “When I came in to Spurs, I came as number two, basically claiming I would win the starting spot and make it my own.  Throughout my career, when I’ve been thrown a challenge, I’ve met it. That’s what I came to Tottenham to do.   No one can predict the future, but I’m proud I achieved what I set out to do.” It’s unfortunate that your personal achievement has come at a difficult time for the club …

KK: “Spurs is a big club that’s underachieving. For me, being able to help is the key.  I saw a game the other day where [Southampton goalkeeper] Antti Niemi had a great game and lost 4-0 to Chelsea.  I hate that type of game where you play great but don’t have an impact on the outcome.  This season I’ve been able to come up with saves that have directly led to the team either getting three points or pulling out a draw.  It’s good to be able to contribute that way.” And how have the not-so-forgiving supporters been through all this?

KK: “Most people who talk to me thank me for being consistent and helping keep the team from sliding into bigger problems. Most fans and press think I have done well under adverse circumstances.”