In 2001 my Dutch publisher Fred Schmidt from De Verbeelding Publishers asked me if I had something in stock to publish. In the football archive I had those returning images from a solitary goalkeeper. They were the result of the way I worked, a kind of spin off you could say.

The location search for my football images always took me a lot of time. I used to select only football grounds where a world behind the pitch would appear in a descriptive way. My viewpoint was defined by that idea from the very beginning, as I started to photograph football in 1995. I needed that world outside the pitch to visualize that football was an important part of our culture. Football grounds form part of the landscape, though often you find them surrounded by trees and undefined bushes. That view outside the pitch wouldn’t give you a clue of where you were.

After finding a proper pitch I followed a game from my stepladder or some other slightly elevated position. In that fixed situation I waited with my Fuji 6x9 camera for the right moment in front of me, but half of the time the game would take place on the other side.

The goalkeeper and me were left behind and I always found that image of a solitary goalkeeper very touching. I never could resist taking one. In German language they have this beautiful word for goalkeeper: Torwachter. He is keeping an eye on the gate, that open hole, that can look so vulnerable during the game when the goalkeeper has left it. All his mates have gone out playing, he has to stay there.

The book was published in 2001, only in a Dutch version. It contained 35 images on a panoramic size. They were selected from my archive, at that time I had mainly pictures from Holland and Belgium. I just had started my European series, which means I still have a great number of unpublished goalkeepers in my archive that I would like to publish one day. The book design was done by Erik Kessels. To the images was a correspondence added between two very original Dutch writers on football: the former Anderlecht and Ajax player Jan Mulder, and Jan Plekker. He was a famous goalkeeper from the northern region in The Netherlands, who unfortunately died in 2007.

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Hamme, Belgium, 1999
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