Australian keepers continue to impress

Australia has built a reputation for producing goalkeepers who can cut it on the world stage and Jim Fraser has worked with most of them.

"They like their Aussie keepers over there and you can't blame them because we seem to produce a fair few good ones. It's just the way we grow up over here that lends itself to making great goalkeepers."

If anyone is well-credentialed enough and knows what they're talking about when it comes to Australian shot-stoppers, it's Jim Fraser.

The former Socceroos stopper has worked with - and helped to mould - some of the best glovemen to emerge from these shores.

Australia has built quite a reputation for producing goalkeepers who can cut it on the world stage and a quick scan across many different leagues around the world will see a huge smattering plying their trade abroad.

Mark Schwarzer (Fulham), Adam Federici (Reading), Brad Jones (Liverpool) and Mitchell Langerak (Borussia Dortmund) are just a few doing great things at big European clubs.

But there's probably no place that Aussie keepers are making a bigger impact at than English lower league club Oldham Athletic.

The lowly League One (third division) side, who recently caused a major boilover in the FA Cup by knocking out EPL heavyweights Liverpool, have three Australian glovemen on their books.

The Boundary Park club have acquired the services of former Liverpool man Dean Bouzanis, Alex Cisak and exciting teenager Liam Jacob.

"It's a pretty unique situation but just another example of how highly thought of our guys are," Fraser said.

"They like what they see in our guys and to their credit, the go there, work hard and get the rewards.

"Dean was absolutely brilliant against Liverpool in the (FA) Cup and it's just a great reward for him."

Fraser, who runs his own goalkeeping academy in Sydney's west, knows all about Bouzanis and Jacob, having worked with them as they came through the junior ranks.

Both his former protégé's got their first opportunity in the UK at Liverpool and despite not quite cracking the big time at Anfield, Fraser has no doubt they are destined for big things.

The veteran goalkeeping coach believes Bouzanis has the perfect build and temperament to play at the very highest level, while 18-year-old Jacob will only get stronger once he fully develops.

Asked why he believes the Australian keepers are making such a splash on the world stage, Fraser got straight to the point.

"I know when I was growing up school was a tough place, you were always being sledged and things like that so you had to be tough to survive," he said.

"It lends itself to being strong and having a lot of self-belief.

"You need to be a bit of an extravert and have a bit of attitude about you.

"These boys certainly have that and it's going to hold them in good stead no matter what happens."

There is an argument that it's not good to have three Australian keepers at the one club, given they are competing for the same spot with only one able to play each week.

In an ideal world it would be great if all three were first-choice at different clubs, with some suggesting it would be better for the youngster to stay home and develop in the Hyundai A-League rather than wait for an opportunity at an overseas club.

"To me it doesn't matter where they are, they have to play games," Fraser said.

"It's the only way you are going to develop.

"For me there's nothing wrong with them all being over there and I think they will all get a chance.

"Just because they might come back to the A-League doesn't mean they are going to play either. There's some very good keepers established here already and it's tough.

"I'm not concerned where they are playing but it's some important for their development, particularly at their age that they play as much as they can."

Former Socceroos goalkeeper Mark Bosnich also has his theories on why Australia has made a habit of producing so many good shot-stoppers.

"It's the influence of the other sports we have in this country, they're virtually all hand sports," said Bosnich, now a commentator for Fox Sports.

"Your rugby league, Aussie rules especially, your rugby union and cricket is the same as well.

"We have a predominance of people using their hands when they are growing up and that's one of the main reasons.

"Plus, I think (goalkeeping) suits a lot of the Australian character as well.

"It's a position where you need to be very brave, have great reflexes, use your hands and also be very cool under pressure. That's the way we mould our sportspeople."

Bosnich, who had a tremendous career in the EPL with Aston Villa, Manchester United and Chelsea, was very much a trailblazer for Australian goalkeepers making it abroad.

He said the goalkeeping art has had to evolve significantly since his day with the introduction of the back-pass rule in the early 1990s.

"They're much more comfortable with their feet than myself or Mark Schwarzer or Zeljko Kalac were because when that law came in we were already in our 20s," Bosnich explained.

"The ones that have grown up with it look much more comfortable.

"But in saying that a lot of the young goalkeepers don't look as comfortable with the high balls as they used to.

"Some things change for the good some things change for the worse."