Peter Shilton: Me, my golf and Maradona

England legend talks to

Peter Shilton: Me, my golf and Maradona

PETER SHILTON has played more times for England than any other footballer. His 125 caps spanned 20 years (1970-90) and included three FIFA World Cups, making his final appearance in the 1990 third place play-off against Italy.

Today he's much in demand as an after-dinner speaker and ambassador for Mars' and SPARKS' charity work around the world.

A keen, though infrequent golfer, he plays to a 16 handicap at De Vere Forest of Arden. Golfmagic caught up with him on the eve of the FIFA World Cup at Nailcote Hall near Coventry where in August he'll play in the curtain-raiser pro-am to the Farmfoods British Par-3 Championship 2010 (August 10-13) which celebrates Tony Jacklin's 40th Anniversary of his 1970 US Open Win.

When was the first time you picked up a golf club?

It was a long long time ago but it wasn't as a kid.
People say that being a footballer you must play golf but, honestly I never did. When I was at my first football club, Leicester City, where I started as an apprentice, I spent all my spare time working on my  goalkeeping.

But I do remember having a series of lessons at a local driving range because the other lads were playing golf and i didn't want to be the odd one out. But I never actually went out to play on a course.

When we had a day off, I'd trained so hard I just wanted to relax. Mentally I couldn't get my head around golf and continue to compete on the golf course again with the other lads. So I used to just try to get away on my own.

Even when I moved to Stoke City, I'd describe myself as only 'the odd game' player.  It was only when I stopped playing football after managing Plymouth Argyle that I got into it when we, as a family moved back to Midlands.

Where did you play?

I eventually went up to the Forest of Arden and met Kim Thomas who was the golf pro then and gave me lessons. Kim was also very interested in goalkeeping and goalkeepers and understanding what made them tick, so we got on very well.

How often do you play?

Before the 2010 World Cup I hadn't played for five or six months over the winter because I've been so busy with speaking engagements. But I do enjoy charity tournaments for the SPARKS children's charity and I'm looking forward to the pro-am ahead of the British Par-3 event at Nailcote Hall, especially as it's also just round the corner from where we live. I'm sure I'll be up at Nailcote Hall to get some more practice with Mark Mouland before then.

How do goalkeeping and golf compare?

There's a lot of similarities, a lot of hand-eye co-ordination but also a lot of technical skills you have to practise. 

Goalkeeping may look like you have to use a lot of instinct and reaction but I always prided myself on my work ethic and the harder I worked the better I became.

You look like you tend to think a lot about the golf shots you want to play - perhaps a bit too much.

That's right I probably tend to think about what I'm trying to do a little too much and that's when tension creeps in.

When you're a professional sportsman - and especially as a goalkeeper - you tend to work everything out, technically. There's a right and a wrong way to do it, whether it's a high cross or a low cross, a shot from close in or balls bouncing in front of you. There's a way of getting your body in the right position.

With football I used to practise and practise until it was second nature and then I just went out and played and dealt with whatever happened. There's also a mental side to it, especially when you're one against one.


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