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Heurelho Gomes says Mendy the best and Henderson must leave Man Utd

| 18.01.2022

In the second part of Ladbrokes’ exclusive interview with Heurelho Gomes, the former Tottenham player names the best goalkeeper in the Premier League and gives his thoughts on Manchester United’s Dean Henderson.

In part one, the Brazilian talks about the top-four race, Harry Kane and all things Tottenham.

Edouard Mendy is the best goalkeeper in the Premier League right now

Aaron Ramsdale is a top, top goalkeeper. I can confidently say he’s going to be up there with the best in the league in a few years. But as for the best right now? It’s Edouard Mendy, for me. Either him, or David de Gea. I think Mendy just edges it, though.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Ederson and Alisson, but I believe that when you’re playing for Liverpool or Manchester City, life as a goalkeeper is much easier than at any other team in the league. Mendy and De Gea have a lot more to do, so we see more of them in action. I love the two Brazilians, but Mendy is doing very, very well for Chelsea.

Ederson, Manchester City

Ederson and Alisson have played big roles in the increase in children in Brazil who want to play in goal. I’m going to put myself in this bracket here, but the legacy we’ve left as Brazilians coming to the Premier League is something I’m very proud of.

When you think back to when I was younger, of course if you’re a Brazilian you want to play outfield, but since I’ve played in the Premier League, along with Julio Cesar, and more recently Alisson and Ederson, there’s been an increase in kids over here wanting to do the same, and believing they can.

It was so rare to see Brazilian goalkeepers in Europe before I joined PSV Eindhoven – in fact I think there was only Dida. I believe European clubs are finally starting to see Brazil as a great place to find goalkeepers.

Dean Henderson has to leave Manchester United

If he wants to be a number one goalkeeper, Dean Henderson has to leave Manchester United. When you’re behind an important player like David de Gea – who does have his mistakes from time to time – you’re always going to struggle for minutes. You’re going up against one of the best goalkeepers in England.

When Henderson went back to Old Trafford after playing for Sheffield United, he needed to be sure that he was going to play – he needed that guarantee. I don’t think it was a good move for him to permanently return to the club. He was having a good time with Sheffield United, performing well, playing week-in, week-out.He’s a very good goalkeeper. But he needs more game time.

When you’re competing against De Gea for a starting place, it’s always going to be hard. If he was playing regularly, I’m sure he’d be at a similar level to De Gea, but he’s just not getting the chance, and there’s currently a question mark next to his name. There’s uncertainty around him at United, because he never knows when his time is going to come.

That’s not a good position to be in, especially for a young goalkeeper who was close to the England squad,  game time is so important, so I believe he has to move on and show everyone that he’s capable of growing into one of the best goalkeepers in the division.

How I dealt with mistakes

Mistakes are a part of football. It doesn’t matter which position you play, you’re going to make them. The only difference is that when you’re a goalkeeper, your mistakes generally lead directly to a goal. It’s never good when you make a mistake, no player has ever wanted to do it. But mistakes are something which make you grow as a person.

Heurelho Gomes, Tottenham

The mistakes I’ve made in my life – both on and off the pitch – have helped me grow. I’ll never shy away from them, and I never treated criticism like the end of the world. I had plenty of criticism from the media when I first joined Tottenham, but I always told myself I could do better. On many occasions the criticism was fair, and people were right, and I’d never shy away from my errors.

Of course it’s sad when you see people throwing everything against you and questioning your ability. You could be the happiest, most positive person in the world and you’d find it hard to deal with that sort of criticism. Sometimes I felt alone, but I thank God for helping me so much to get through those difficult moments. I feel like a winner today, after such a long career in England, in one of the toughest leagues in the world.

Ronaldo was the guy who embraced the new Brazilian players; he made me sit next to him at the dinner table the first time I met him

I had the pleasure of playing with the likes of Ronaldinho, Kaka, Adriano and Ronaldo all with the Brazil national team. I think there was a time where Ronaldinho in particular was close to a Premier League move. It’s such a shame that never happened because I think he would have just been incredible for English fans to witness every week – regardless of who you supported.

I look at football nowadays and can’t help but imagine how good a player like Ronaldinho would be today. In the Premier League in particular, the fast pace is made for him. I could just see him fitting perfectly into this Manchester City side. I could imagine Kaka playing in this Chelsea team.

Ronaldo, Brazil

Those guys were so difficult to play against in training; it was so overwhelming at times, but they just made you feel so welcome as a new player in the set-up. I had the chance to play against Russia with Ronaldo, and we went out for dinner as a team. I sat down and Ronaldo shouted to me “sit here!” pointing next to him. He told me to sit next to him. I was so shy. How? Why? Why was this superstar asking me to sit next to him? It didn’t matter; when a legend like Ronaldo tells you to sit somewhere, you sit!

That was the type of person he was. People may not think it, but you could see that he was always the guy who would embrace the new players. He wanted me to sit next to him because he wanted me to feel a part of the set-up. He was at the head of the table; the guy who was going to pay the bill at the end of the night! That was a really special night for me. I’m blessed to have shared the pitch with these guys – it would have been so good to have seen one of them in the Premier League.

Ronaldo and Rivaldo were my idols growing up; I wanted to be a winger until I went in goal for the first time aged 17!

I was 17 years old when I first started playing in goal. I used to joke that most of my mistakes I made in the game came because I never had the coaching of other goalkeepers as a kid. I was late to the game. I went to Cruzeiro when I was 19 years old, and that’s where I first had a proper goalkeeping coach. That’s where I started to learn how to be a goalkeeper. I was a good size, my handling was good – most of the time – but there were so many things I had to learn.

I’ve always said I was still learning with every game I played, right up until my final game for Watford. I was still open and willing to learn as much as I could from coaches and team-mates, because I didn’t have that training as a goalkeeper when I was younger.

I wanted to be a striker, like Peter Crouch – the big guy up front. That was my dream – it was either that or a right-winger. One day I realised I was actually better in goal than I was going forward, so I started to play in goal and got a lot of attention from teams.

After two years at Cruzeiro, I was their first-choice goalkeeper. We won the league and the cup and I ended up moving to PSV Eindhoven. I was the guy that no one thought would be successful, I really believe that, simply because they thought I’d made the transition from outfield player to goalkeeper too late in my career. In another universe somewhere, it was me and Ronaldo playing up front for Brazil!

Rivaldo, Brazil

I grew up wanting to be like Ronaldo, or Rivaldo. I didn’t want to be like a goalkeeper; I had no intention of going in goal. I was looking to outfield players for inspiration. I never even looked at goalkeepers and thought ‘he’s good’, because I just wasn’t interested. Then when I finally made the move to that position when I was 17, I started to watch games more closely, I studied one guy in particular – Dida. All of a sudden I thought ‘I want to be like him’.

Every time I had the opportunity in training to play outfield, I would. Likewise, if ever a friend asks me to play football now, I only agree if I can play outfield. Cruzeiro Masters want me to join them, but as a goalkeeper… no thank you. I’ll play for them up front!

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Warren Barner