Experienced goalkeeper coach, Fred Barber, takes up a new challenge in the summer months when he launches his own International Goalkeeping Academy.
A native of Ferryhill, County Durham, the 52-year-old, who currently works as the first-team keeper coach at Crewe Alexandra, combines his role at Gresty Road with freelance coaching around the North West and Staffordshire area.
Jussi Jaaskelainen and Paul Rachubka are just two experienced shot-stoppers that turned to Barber’s expertise last summer when they were both free-agents, while Crewe’s highly-rated youngster Ben Garratt was also put through his paces.
Barber spoke exclusively to Shoot about why he decided to set up his own International Goalkeeping Academy, along with his ambitions for the long-term.
Speaking about the newly-founded academy, the former Bolton Wanderers employee said: “All the professional goalkeepers I have been training over the years have been from different countries, such as Finland, Oman and Hungary, so I thought why not go over there and give the kids the training they need, in order to hopefully go on and make it as a professional.
“I’ve got my son, who’s qualified, as well as a female coach, so we are looking to extend in the overseas market to try and bring goalkeepers to the United Kingdom and develop them, that’s why we have called it the Fred Barber International Goalkeeping Academy.
“I found my summer camps successful in the past. We had kids come over and go for trials, and they thoroughly enjoyed it. Setting up the International Academy means that we can take our coaching to them.
“I’m giving elite, professional training but for all standards, it is up to the kids to grasp what you are after from them, so they eventually kick on and improve themselves through the training. I take all standards, but I treat them as pro keepers in the camp.
A large contingent of professional goalkeepers were sourced through Barber’s camps, a feat which fills the coach with pride.
Barber said: “Tomasz Kuszczak came to my pro-camp, which helped him earn his move to West Brom, and he got sold to Manchester United for £4million off the back of that.
“I found Ali Al-Habsi who came to Bolton, then was sold to Wigan Athletic, as well as Adam Bogdan, he came to my camp looking for a trial, we took him on at Bolton and he’s now with Liverpool – we’ve found some really good keepers, and it’s a proud feeling.
“It’s cheaper to go abroad to Scandinavia for example than to go and buy a goalkeeper from the English lower divisions, that’s why you had the likes of Jaaskelainen, Bogdan and Al-Habsi over here, as it was easier to shop elsewhere, so you find more clubs doing that these days.
“I brought through Jussi Jaaskelainen as a fifth choice goalkeeper to a Premier League keeper, Jussi is now still playing at the age of 40 – that is testament to the type of person he is.
“The West Ham keeper, Raphael Spiegel, also came to one of our international courses when they were held in Switzerland, he was signed by Sam Allardyce in 2012 after we recommended him – so our courses do have a good track record, and we are always trying to find new talent.
Barber has also delved into the manufacturing side of football, and he has his own range of goalkeeping gloves, which he sells through his website.
“I’ve now decided to go further afield, we are branching out – I’ve got my own goalkeeping gloves called Pro SK, which is a high-quality range but I’ve decided to make them cheaper so the kids can actually afford them.
“I sell my gloves on the website for around £35 – if they were manufactured by Nike or Adidas, they would be sold for £190. I just want to make the products affordable to the kids that come to our courses.”
The professional camps have been used by an array of top-flight, international keepers in previous years, as an alternative to immediately returning to their club sides at the start of the season – and this July, celebrates 20 years in the business.
“A lot of clubs now know who we are, and a few years ago we had Thomas Sorensen, Marcus Hahnemann, Maik Taylor, Jaaskelainen, Robert Green, Richard Wright and Roy Carroll. They were all internationals on my camp doing pure goalkeeping drills, rather than go back to their clubs at the start of the summer, they came up to me.
“I still get phone calls about recommended keepers. Around two years ago, Reice Charles-Cook got released by Arsenal, and a sports agency contacted me and said would you take a look at this lad. I liked what I saw and went back to Bury. Reice came in for a year, and he’s now of course in Coventry’s first-team, which is great to see.
“His dad rang me up and said ‘I can’t believe you’ve treated my son like your own’ so it is nice to get feedback like that, proving we are doing something right.
Fred Barber’s International Goalkeeping Academy runs in July and August of this year.
For further details, please see the flyer below.
Name: Frederick Barber
Date of Birth: August 26, 1963
Place of Birth: Ferryhill, County Durham
Height: 5ft 10in
Youth Career: Darlington (1981-82)
Playing Career: Darlington, Everton, Walsall, Peterborough United, Luton Town, Birmingham City, Chester City, Colchester United, Ipswich Town, Blackpool, Chesterfield, Kidderminster Harriers