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Paul Campbell, Keeper Coach of the Best

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Coach Paul Campbell has left a lasting legacy in his work with goalkeepers in his native Jamaica.  His expertise and diligence are highlighted by two of his former students.

Donovan Ricketts of the Portland Timbers was named the Allstate 2013 Goalkeeper of the Year for Major League Soccer.  This was the second award for the 36 year-old veteran for an amazing year, finishing with career highs in shutouts (14) and saves (92) while posting a 0.97 goals-against average.  Click here to read more.

If Donovan is the best today, then Andre Blake may be the best tomorrow.  The UConn junior was taken as the 1st pick in the Major League Soccer SuperDraft.  From MLS coaches as they prepared for Draft day:  “Great shot-stopper, bouncy, came out well for crosses, organized well, but very importantly he was positive whenever they went down a goal … He’s good. Has the accolades and swagger. Good leadership qualities.”  Click here to read more and to see highlights.

We asked Coach Paul to tell us about his work with Donovan and Andre.  “I started with Donovan when he was 19 as we worked with the Jamaica Men’s National Team during 1998 World Cup qualifiers.  He had just finished his play with the U-20 team and was brought into the Senior camp. 

What I’ve always admired in Donovan is that he wants to know “Why.”  He didn’t take what you told him immediately, he always wanted explanations in a way that made sense.  This made me a better coach.

“I would go to his school training him as he wasn’t always able to make the Senior Camp, spent alot of time training and perfecting his technique.  His diving ability can rival the best in the world.  Donovan was signed by Bolton in the English Premiership then moved to Bradford in the Championship where he established himself as as a top goalkeeper.”

“Andre was my U-17 goalkeeper for the U-17 Jamaica National team.  I started working with him as a 13-year old in preparing him to join our age-group national teams.  I accompanied him to Bradenton (FL) to play against the US U-17 team.

“I saw some nice qualities in Andre as a young player.  His diving ability, his command of the box, how he communicated were very strong as a younger player.  He also worked with some of my older keepers like Allien Whittaker (who was the voted 2001 Best XI in the U-20 World Cup in Argentina).

“You have to understand that being a goalkeeper in Jamaica is special.  It is One Line of Hope.  When you are coming from a country like Jamaica, these young men see this as a way to escape the challenging environment of Jamaica.  When they were selected and had the chance, it was like living the lottery.  They would show up any time of the day to train.

“Looking at Andre and Donovan, as well as current Senior team goalkeepers Dwayne Kerr (Norway) and Dwayne Miller (Sweden) who have been playing backup to Donovan.  They are physically gifted, but there is nothing different about them.  They just decide that they are going to work to maximize their potential.”