Swansea City goalkeeping coach Tony Roberts relishing challenge
14th July 2015
New Swans goalkeeping coach, Tony Roberts, hopes his attention to detail can help Lukasz Fabianski and Kristoffer Nordfeldt shut out the Barclays Premier League hot-shots this season.
Roberts, who arrived from Arsenal last month to replace Javier Garcia, had only signed a new contract at the Emirates six weeks prior to the call from Swans boss Garry Monk.
And despite the fact that he had been there eight years coaching from youth to first-team level, including establishing the club's Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP), it was a decision the former Welsh international didn't have to think twice about.
"When the opportunity arose to come to Swansea I grabbed it with both hands,'' explained Roberts from Swansea's training camp in Germany. "To be honest, even though I enjoyed my time at Arsenal, there wasn't a lot to think about.
"I'm a proud Welshman and it was an opportunity for me to work solely with the first team. I coached the first-team at QPR for seven years, but I also combined it with playing, so it was a bit different.
"I have always had ambitions to coach at the highest level. The way Swansea has evolved over a short period of time, and the way it is currently moving forward, I wanted to be part of it.
"It was a great season last year, finishing eighth, the club's highest finish. But everyone wants to try and improve and if I can help the club do that, then that will be superb.''
Roberts, 45, enjoyed a distinguished goalkeeping career that spanned over two decades and included two Welsh caps.
Having come through the youth ranks at QPR, he made nearly 150 appearances for the West London club before spending a season with Millwall in 1998.
However, after a brief coaching stint in America, Roberts returned to English football with non-league Dagenham & Redbridge in 2000 to become a firm fans' favourite. He played over 450 games for the Daggers - helping them win promotion to the Football League for the first time in 2007 - before bringing a glittering career to an end in 2013 as the club's record appearance maker.
It was during his time at the Daggers that Roberts began coaching with Arsenal's Academy before stepping up to work with the first team in 2010-11 and then returning to the Academy last season.
It was at the Emirates that Roberts worked closely with Fabianski. So it came as no surprise to the Holyhead-born coach that the Pole proved such a bit hit at the Liberty last season.
"I worked with Lukasz on and off for seven years while I was at Arsenal,'' added Roberts. "His temperament and attitude is second to none.
"I wasn't surprised to see him do so well last season because I always knew he just needed a platform.
"It's been good to work with him again. It's going to be a great battle with Kristoffer (Nordfeldt) for the number one shirt because he's a very good goalkeeper in his own right and hungry to succeed. They are both internationals, so the competition will be tough. But that's what you want.''
It was Roberts' experience and reputation in the game that ensured his name was top of Monk's wish list when the vacancy needed to be filled.
"He comes with an excellent reputation as a forward-thinking, modern and knowledgeable goalkeeping coach,'' said Monk.
"I've got no doubt that his talents and experience will strengthen the club's backroom staff to keep improving and pushing the goalkeepers forward.''
To do that, preparation will be the key word in Roberts' vocabulary.
"The minute detail of the role is extremely important to me,'' added Roberts. "I use analytics quite extensively in preparing for games so the goalkeepers know exactly what type of player they will be facing on a match day.
"It's vital that the goalkeepers are educated so they are well aware of every situation they may face during a game.
"They have to be mentally, physically and tactically aware. They have to be efficient in everything they do and mentally brave to make decisions at important times.''
Roberts also isn't afraid to use his contact book in developing his goalkeepers.
"The likes of Neville Southall and David Seaman have come in to view some sessions in the past,'' he added.
"Goalkeepers like that have a wealth of experience; they were the best in their field when they were playing. I'll be looking to speak to them again throughout the season and perhaps get them down to Swansea.''
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