These days it is impossible to imagine modern goalkeepers without the necessary sports equipment, and even more so without goalkeeper gloves. It is hard to believe that until 1970, goalkeepers almost did not wear gloves, wearing them exclusively in bad weather. In this article, we are talking about the creation of the first goalkeeping gloves and the upgrades they underwent.
Modern football gloves provide the goalkeeper with additional protection of hands and fingers. For more than a century, soccer goalkeepers have used their hands to catch, block, and deflect opponents' balls from their team's goal. For the average viewer, wearing gloves seems very logical. Therefore, it is surprising that wearing protective gloves is a relatively recent phenomenon.
According to the German Patent Office, a British soccer ball manufacturer named William Sykes received a patent for a pair of leather goalie gloves in 1885. The design of the gloves included a layer of rubber from India to protect and soften the impact.
Sykes was obviously an advanced inventor, as it took more than half a century for goalkeepers to start wearing goalkeeper gloves regularly. However, Mr. Sykes never put his invention into mass production. Founded in 1934, the Reusch company is considered to be the first manufacturer to start mass-production of goalkeeping gloves.
Goalkeepers didn't usually wear gloves in the early 1900s. There is no mention of gloves in the original 1863 "rules of the game", so a goalkeeper would not break any rules if he wanted to keep his hands warm. Although there is a possibility that some gatekeepers wore wool or gardening gloves, there is no clear evidence that they did so.
Therefore, Argentine goalkeeper Amadeo Carrizo was the first goalkeeper known to wear gloves. Carrizo played for the Argentine Football Club River Plate in the 1940s and 1950s. The Argentine was a pioneer who helped create new game strategies for goalkeepers of that time. Carrizo's gloves were made of cotton, which was ineffective because they absorbed water and were becoming slippery too fast. In addition, these gloves had low cushioning, so they did not protect the goalkeeper's hands well.
The use of goalkeeping gloves became more common in the late 1960s and early 1970s, but many goalkeepers only wore them in wet conditions. In addition, the lack of specialized goalkeeping glove manufacturers meant that some of the best goalkeepers of the era still played in gardening gloves.
In the mid-sixties, the Stanno brand released the first gloves that resemble modern ones. They were leather gloves with rubber inserts to increase grip.
Gordon Banks, the legendary England goalkeeper, began using goalkeeping gloves as an experiment at the 1970 FIFA World Cup in Mexico, according to the archives of the British Gloves Association. They had some similarities to Carrizo’s gloves as they were thin, however, they resembled more garden gloves due to the better grip. During this period, great goalkeepers such as Alex Stepney and Pat Jennings did not wear gloves at all.
Also, the 1970s were a turning point in the entire history of goalkeeping gloves. As gloves became more popular, the demand for special goalkeeping gloves increased.
Manufacturers such as Stanno, Reusch, Uhlsport and Sondico have unexpectedly found that their gloves are in demand among both amateur and professional goalkeepers. The gloves were simple, but offered more reliable protection and grip on the ball — two key principles of modern goalkeeping glove design.
By the 1980s, goalkeeping gloves had become the main element of football equipment. Manufacturers began to study their developments more, especially in terms of grip. They experimented with terry cloth, table tennis flooring, and latex foam. Goalkeepers' gloves made of latex foam soon entered mass production of world brands.
Over the years, manufacturers have worked to improve the latex foam coating to create even more sticky, long-lasting, and versatile formulas for goalkeeper gloves.
The production technology of goalkeeping gloves has evolved significantly since the 1980s. Latex foam coating made it possible to get more sticky and durable gloves, while various brands added their own developments to the field of glove production.
Goalkeepers can now choose between gloves with different cuts, designs, and seam types. As with soccer shoes, innovations in the goalkeeping glove industry have allowed us to create a wide range of models and styles. Therefore, choosing gloves for goalkeeping has become much more difficult than buying a good pair of gardening gloves.
One of the latest innovations was the addition of another layer of latex — this time inside the goalkeeper's glove, creating a latex surface between the goalkeeper's hands and the gloves. This helps prevent the gloves from slipping on the goalkeepers ' hands during the game. The slightest slip of the gloves can play a crucial role, and the inner latex really helps to secure the gloves on the goalkeeper's palms.
In the last decade, the "rollfinger" cut has also been patented. Currently, the rollfinger gloves are one of the most popular among goalkeepers. Such goalkeeping gloves usually appear more voluminous due to the additional latex foam between the fingers. Also, gloves for goalkeepers with additional finger protection are in demand.
Modern gloves have become more durable thanks to the use of high-quality latex, not to mention sticky palms for extra grip. New types of cutting and fixing provided even more choice, much more than the goalkeepers of the 1970s could have imagined.