Tim Krul - the Norwich City clean machine
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Tim Krul is the first Norwich City keeper to keep seven consecutive clean sheets in the league – CHRIS LAKEY look at the Dutch masters, and some of his predecessors
Norwich City have long been associated with top quality goalkeepers whose names will be remembered long after they have hung up their boots and gloves.
Some will go into fans’ own hall of fame – Ken Nethercott, Sandy Kennon, Kevin Keelan, Bryan Gunn, Chris Woods, Robert Green, John Ruddy – others will be listed as very good. But perhaps not great Norwich City keepers.
By a procession of elimination, it’s clear to work out the latter because from Nethercott and Kennon in late 40s to mid-60s to Ruddy in the last 2010s, that’s been it. Eight solid citizens. Plus one.
Tim Krul will surely now join the list of greats – if he hasn’t done already - after his seventh consecutive league clean sheet for City in the midweek draw at Millwall, following the blank against Middlesbrough at the weekend.
The Dutchman has made 99 league appearances plus three in the FA Cup since joining City in July 2018 on a free. His career had been interrupted by a serious knee injury in October 2015 and never really got going again until he joined Norwich.
"It's a new start,” he said at the time. “It feels like a new kickstart in my career. I've done what I've done and I just can't wait to show what I'm worth on the pitch again.”
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And he did. Yes, there were a few early jitters, but he was quickly endearing himself to City fans. It’s fine having a very good goalkeeper, but sometimes a bit of the X-factor makes them stand out just that little bit more. Keelan had it. Gunn had it. Krul has it.
In 2019-20 as City headed back to the Championship, Krul was named player of the season, only the fifth ever different keeper to win the Barry Butler memorial trophy (joining Keelan, Woods, Gunn and Andy Marshall).
“I had a rough start and everybody was doubting me after the first few games,” said Krul. “And then the journey kicked in, I felt my confidence coming back and we started to get a few wins off the back of that.
“My relationship with the fans has gone from strength to strength ever since then.”
What makes him special?
Let’s start with leadership and organisation. Players who have been there, seen that, got the T-shirt have a right to bark out instructions. His back four have trusted him – he had two impressionable full-backs in Max Aarons and, for a while, Jamal Lewis – he shouts, they listen. But then there was the experience of Grant Hanley and, now, Ben Gibson, in the centre of his defence, players who listen because they are on the same wavelength.
Krul has built up a trust and a leadership quality – the last thing you want as a defender is to defend a corner or a free-kick not knowing whether your keeper knows what he is doing.
You can almost forget the assertion that he is a good shot-stopper: you don’t play Championship and Premier League football, if you’re not. It’s a given. It’s the ‘extras’ that matter, the presence, the confidence he brings.
And that little something special?
For example, the mind games against Troy Parrott in the FA Cup penalty shoot-out against Spurs last March when he “played a little bit with his head” - and saved the kick as City went through.
It was a vintage display by City at Millwall, but it was definitely a magnificent seventh for Tim Krul.