Keith Branagan was a mainstay in the team at Bolton for many years and was an important figure in the success that the football club managed to achieve during a decade which brought Premier League football to the town for the first time.
Succeeded eventually by a young Finnish import named Jussi Jaaskelainen, the popular Republic of Ireland international stopper spoke on the Here We Go Again podcast about how he went from being a quiet teenager to one of the best goalkeepers to have played in the top flight.
‘You never knew Jussi was there most of the time because he didn’t really say anything. He came in and to be fair I thought wow, we’ve signed a good one here. I thought to myself that I’m going to have to raise my game to stay in the team.
‘But what Jussi needed to learn about at the time was how to cope with the pressures of the matchday. I think as a youngster, he managed to get himself in the team when I got injured and you could see his ability but I don’t think he’d learned the craft of playing in matches and coping with the different situations in a game. Saying that, he was always going to learn because he was a strong character.
‘He’s got a sharp mind as well and he would speak more of the pitch if it was in his nature to do so, but he just doesn’t talk too much. On the pitch he did of course.
‘He took a little while to learn the craft, he was already a good goalkeeper but it was about him learning to cope with making an error and coping when players were on your back and managing to brush that off.
‘Once he got that sorted, he was away. Without a shadow of a doubt, he was one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League. Once he’d learned his coping mechanisms, he was unstoppable – such a good goalkeeper!’
Listen to the full episode of the podcast with Keith Branagan on Spotify or Apple Podcasts.