Hearts No 1 Jack Hamilton admits he is determined to keep pace with the evolving role of a goalkeeper after recognising that distribution from defence has become an important feature of the modern game.
The 22-year-old has impressed in his breakthrough campaign with Robbie Neilson’s side and has even become a regular fixture in the Scotland squad. Hamilton, however, understands that he needs to be good with both his feet and his hands if he is to reach the top.
The current trend dictates that keepers must be equally adept at starting attacks as they are at halting them.
England keeper Joe Hart is the most high-profile victim of this emerging style after Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola recruited Claudio Bravo,while Celtic’s Craig Gordon temporarily lost his place to Dorus De Vries.
Hamilton’s shot-stopping ability has not been called into question but the youngster admits he wants to improve his ball-striking technique.
Hamilton, who identifies Bayern Munich and Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer as the perfect all-rounder, said: “There is no point in sitting back now, I want to get better at distribution, handling, crosses. To get to the next level you have to improve everything.
“The way everyone is working now is with the goalkeepers with the ball at their feet, I think that’s going to be massive so that’s something I have to bring into my game as well.
“From goal kicks to playing it long, you’re trying to find a man. It’s working with the out-field players as well so you get to understand each other and where people will be. They’ve got to know they’re going to get it. The best goalkeepers in the world have got everything. They make the vital saves, they’re passing it about and they’re calm and composed, confident. Hopefully I can keep improving and get better.
“Manuel Neuer is a one-off and he plays like a sweeper. He makes a few mistakes but the times he does commit he is really effective in building play and setting up attacks. I love watching him, he is someone you watch and you think, ‘what’s he going to do next?’ He is somebody you can look up to.
“There is always room for improvement. Paul Gallacher, the goalie coach, has been excellent with me. We go over the video analysis for every single game.”
l Jack Hamilton was speaking at the Tesco Bank Football Challenge Festival at Nethermain Primary School in Denny. More than 120,000 children have now taken part in the grassroots schools programme.