Matt Gilks: From Zero to Hero
Last summer Matt Gilks nearly quit football. Despite being a strong minded individual, the keeper had fallen out of love with the game after finding his first team opportunities exceedingly limited at first Norwich and then Blackpool.
At Carrow Road he couldn't dislodge the talented David Marshall from the number one jersey, and after a free transfer to Blackpool he found himself behind fans' favourite Paul Rachubka in the pecking order.
Indeed, he was even subjected to chants of 'USA, USA, USA!' from a section of the Bloomfield Road faithful during a rare appearance in tangerine during Simon Grayson's reign, and if it weren't for the decision to allow Football League teams to name seven subs, he probably wouldn't even have made the bench most games.
A loan move to Shrewsbury didn't improve his outlook, but last summer's arrival of Ian Holloway as manager did.
Ollie offered everyone, including Gilks, a clean slate and although he started the season as second choice behind Rabs once more, he heard enough from Ollie to know that if he worked hard he would get his chance.
And get his chance he did, stamping his claim to the number one jersey with authority, leaving Rabs as the one firmly out in the cold, and firmly establishing himself as a fans' favourite.
I used to be very nervous watching Gilks in goal and didn't rate him, but it's like watching an entirely different player these days.
Yes, he'll still drop the odd clanger like any other keeper but he's developed into a cracking keeper seeping in confidence, as his save at the death v Liverpool shows.
Matt always argues that he was this good (he used to get very angry when his team mates suggested last season that he should win the 'Most Improved Player' award), but there's no doubt in my mind that a combination of hard work and a positive outlook have undoubtedly helped and developed his game.
Many fans thought that signing a new keeper over the summer to deal with the rigours of the Premier League was one of our priorities. I disagreed, and I'm delighted to have been proved right, although I must admit that even I didn't expect Gilksy to be as commanding as he has been! Even the arrival of Richard Kingson, one of the stars of the World Cup, as competition hasn't affected him and he's our number one by some distance.
Indeed, thoughts have now turned to tying him down to a new contract as bigger teams will undoubtedly start sniffing around him if he continues in his current vein of form; a run that has seen him break into the Scottish national side.
From potential retirement to a Premier League and international goalkeeper in just over a year. Incredible.
Matt Gilks: From Zero to Hero.
Win FREE pizza with Vital Football!
Select your team and get 50% off if they score twice.