In a conversation featured on Leamington-born Ben Foster’s Fozcast podcast, Coventry City’s primary goalkeeper, Ben Wilson, and the former England and Manchester United goalkeeper, Ben Foster, have raised a playful theory regarding football manufacturers intentionally designing slippery balls to make it more challenging for goalkeepers to catch them, leading to an increase in scoring opportunities.
Some goalkeepers have advocated using Vaseline on their gloves to enhance grip, but Ben Wilson from Coventry City has firmly rejected this approach, stating he won’t consider it. The two goalkeepers shared a light-hearted conspiracy theory suggesting that there might be a bias against goalkeepers, with the aim of witnessing more goals in matches.
Wilson mentioned, “Even the person who designs these Puma balls we use dislikes goalkeepers because, honestly… they are just so bad for grip. We have Simon (Moore) and Brad (Collins) wearing Sells gloves – the best grip, expensive gloves – and then I wear GK Monte gloves that cost twenty quid, but the Puma balls…”
Foster, who started his career at Racing Club Warwick and played for various clubs including Manchester United, Birmingham, West Brom, Watford, and Wrexham, added, “But they want it to be like that. I guarantee that Puma would have contacted all the goalkeeper glove brands, examined the latex they use, and asked, ‘What’s the slipperiest coating we can apply to this football to ensure no goalie can catch it? We want goals sliding through hands and mistakes left and right.”
Wilson further commented, “Honestly, you can practice as much as you want as a goalkeeper, but you go into games now thinking, ‘I’m not catching anything today.’ Many goalkeepers are using Vaseline on their gloves, but I won’t do it.”
Foster humorously referred to it as “goalkeeper geekery” and inquired about the Vaseline practice. Wilson explained that he witnessed Joe Hart doing it during the 2014 World Cup and found it to be effective, but he personally cannot bring himself to use it.
Foster shared his ability to identify who uses Vaseline during training sessions because it noticeably improves grip. When asked why he doesn’t use it, Wilson emphasized his reliance on developing his catching skills naturally.
He also mentioned that they use a new matchball for each game, and the quality of the ball can vary. For critical matches, they use gold balls, which can be slippery, requiring extra care. Wilson recounted an instance from the play-offs where he tried to make the balls less slippery. Foster concluded by suggesting that new balls with a factory finish film can be particularly challenging for goalkeepers during matches, as they are different from the ones they train with.
The overall discussion was lighthearted and revolved around the challenges and strategies goalkeepers face in dealing with the ball’s slipperiness.