Alan Kelly says Everton are “blessed” with a group of goalkeepers whose talent and skill and character belong at the elite end of the game.
Everton keeper coach Kelly’s most famous pupil is Jordan Pickford, who is four months shy of his 28th birthday and has ample scope to improve, in the view of his mentor.
But Kelly is equally enthused about the men from across the age spectrum jostling for position beneath Everton first-choice Pickford.
Asmir Begovic, signed prior to this season, is an “energiser… with very high standards”, says Kelly, who has “high hopes” for 19-year-old Academy graduate Harry Tyrer.
The Everton keeping pack is completed by Andy Lonergan and Zan-Luk Leban, the young Slovenian who joined in summer 2019.
“People expect goalkeepers to be perfect and if they’re not it is highlighted,” Kelly told evertonfc.com.
“That is an enormous responsibility to have on your shoulders.
“When you work together, you understand the pressure of being the last line of defence and what it entails.
“It creates a camaraderie that allows you to work hard and ask questions of each other and demand better of yourself.
“We are blessed at Everton to have a body of goalkeepers with talent and broad skill sets and who bring something to the dressing room as personalities.
“We want an environment that helps England’s number one but also brings the best out of a seasoned international in Asmir Begovic, Andy Lonergan, who has so much experience, and the youngsters Harry Tyrer and Zan-Luk Leban.
“Jordan is relatively young as a goalkeeper and experience tells you he will improve.
“Helping him enhance his game is a great challenge and responsibility but I feel the same about every keeper.
“If you prepare them all in the same manner and they take satisfaction from knowing they’re ready to play on a Saturday, if called on, it creates a good environment.
“Goalkeeping is my passion. I have been doing it many decades and must be close to 1,000 games playing and coaching.
“You need passion to come in every day and think, ‘How am I going to prepare my goalkeepers, what can I give them that will help them perform in the next game?’”
Begovic completed a free transfer from Bournemouth to Everton back in July.
The 34-year-old was followed in the door one month later by Lonergan, four years Begovic’s senior and formerly with Preston and Leeds United.
“Asmir is an excellent addition to the squad,” continued Kelly.
“He is a fantastic person to be around, brilliant to coach and in the dressing room.
“He has an aura, there is something about him everyone likes.
“People like Asmir are energisers. He goes out of his way to make others feel good and build a positive spirit and demands training is of a high standard. That is the sign of a fantastic person.
“Those characters energise the Club and the goalkeeping department and me, as a coach.
“Andy has so much enthusiasm and wants to use his experience in the group. He is another with energy, he’ll come out in the morning and say, ‘I want to work and work well’.
“Before one of his first sessions he told me, ‘I love to work’. That is fantastic – then it is up to me to channel that in the right direction.”
Kelly was originally in charge of Tyrer’s development in his former position as Everton Under-23 goalkeeper coach.
The teenager returned to action with David Unsworth’s Under-23 side in October following two months nursing a quadriceps injury.
He has been included in multiple senior matchday squads and started a First-Team friendly in September 2020.
“Harry’s always had a calm persona,” added Kelly.
“Maturity and calmness are gifts for a keeper and those qualities come naturally for him.
“He is continually learning from Jordan and Asmir and Andy.
“You have to manage highs and lows as a keeper. Dealing with the crushing disappointment of an injury is a big test and he passed it.
“Harry is a really good person and excellent around the group.
“He is improving at every stage of his development and I have really high hopes for him.”