The Craig Gordon quality which gets overlooked and why Hearts fans don't take goalkeepers for granted

Hearts goalkeeper Craig Gordon has achieved countless feats at his boyhood club.

Lee McCulloch continues to be impressed with Craig Gordon. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

The most expensive player, sold for a fee of £9million. A Scottish Cup winner and key part of the side which split the Old Firm. Captain for the second time. The most minutes without conceding a goal and the consecutive clean sheet record. One of the greatest players the club has ever produced. And having returned in June 2020 aged 37 he can be regarded as one of the best and most important signings, certainly in recent years.

Gordon has shown how crucial it is for a goalkeeper to be a good shot-stopper and he is a key reason for Hearts having conceded just three goals in the league so far.

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Gordon the leader

"Every aspect of his game, ball at his feet, making saves, taking crosses, communicating, commanding his box," Lee McCulloch, the club’s assistant said.

"Everything that a good goalie should have, he’s got in abundance.

“Even corners against and cross balls, he commands the box and speaks well like a true leader should do.

"I think he’s very reassuring.

“But I think we’re lucky in the centre of defence to have the likes of Halkett and Souttar, so we’ve got a pretty good standard there and some really good communicators, which helps to filter through the team.”

The SPFL released a graphic in the aftermath of Sunday’s goalless draw where Gordon excelled, revealing he had made the most number of saves in the league so far.

Some may view it as a defence giving up a lot of chances but according to Wyscout, the Tynecastle club have the lowest ‘xG per shot against’. In layman’s terms, the shots opponents are taking on are more difficult to score.

Having lived through the two seasons previous to Gordon's arrival, that means little to Hearts fans, unwilling to take a reliable goalkeeper for granted again.

“I think you can look at stats anyway you want,” McCulloch said. “Does that tell you we’ve got the worst defence? No, because we’ve not lost a game.

“That’s what he’s there to do and that’s what he’ll continue to do, I’ll confidently say that, so no I’m certainly not concerned from the defence’s point of view.”

‘He’s a phenomenon’

Back to being Scotland's No.1 and taking inspiration from Italian goalkeeping legend Gianluigi Buffon, Gordon remains at his “peak", according to McCulloch.

His importance on and off the field is not taken for granted around Oriam and Tyencastle.

“I think his full career, his levels have been through the roof," McCulloch said.

“His consistency doesn’t get spoken about enough, he’s certainly got a few more years in him and he’s an absolute pleasure to work with from the coaching staff’s point of view.

“He’ll speak his opinion and he’s a true leader in how he acts on and off the pitch. It’s just brilliant to have him in the dressing room.

“He’s the sort of father figure of the dressing room. The utmost respect for the players, you see the condition of his body, the way he plays in every aspect of his game.

“He’s a phenomenon, I think it can only be good for the club, but good for him too, he’s definitely got two, three, four years left in him, one million percent.”

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