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28
Thu, Oct

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Being a goalkeeper is perhaps the most unforgiving role in a football team.
Months of consistency can be forgotten in an instant at the occurrence of one mistake, when suddenly you are the focus of attention and in some cases, even the scapegoat for defeat (see David James). Yet the same rarely happens in reverse. Making good stops is seen as the bare minimum job specification for any 'keeper and as such, they rarely receive the credit they deserve for their efforts. Fortunately this isn't always the case, sometimes a goalkeeper's performance is so breathtaking that people can't help but notice their contribution to victory and they rightfully receive the accolades they deserve. Step forward Pompey's own number one, Shaka Hislop, a man whose recent performances have earned him plaudits from all observers. After playing just one friendly in the last two years he has also been called up by his country Trinidad & Tobago.

"I've enjoyed the season so far but I wouldn't go as far as to say 'hero of the moment'," he says.

"Coming on the back of what was a very disappointing Charlton game for me; it was good to follow it up with two wins and two decent performances after that."

The Charlton versus Portsmouth game for Shaka was what the England/Austria game was for England custodian, James; an uncharacteristic error stealing the headlines and costing Pompey a share of the points on their first away trip of the season. But rather than dwell on the incident and let it affect his confidence, Shaka appeared to use it as a springboard to drive him on to two fantastic displays against Fulham and Palace.

"I wouldn't say it spurred me on", he says, "but I wanted to put it behind me and there's no better way to do that than going straight out on the park and performing, and winning more importantly."

One of the highlights of those two games was a penalty save from Crystal Palace's Andy Johnson and when Shaka made a stop from the spot against Liverpool's Michael Owen back in February, much was made of the fact that he had never saved a penalty before. However, after the occurrence of what would be his second ever penalty save, Pompey's number one clears up the unlikely statistic.

"It isn't entirely true. I had saved penalties before, just not for a long time, but I've saved my last two", he clarifies.

"Saving penalties for me is a lot about luck. There's four corners and they can go both sides and with a lot of accuracy. You really have to hope that first of all you guess the right direction and secondly they miss-hit it slightly. That happened to me in my last two and its not that I've done anything differently to what I've been doing all these years, its just that I've had that little bit of luck that I hadn't had for some time.

"For the one at Norwich I think Darren Huckerby mishit the ball but to be honest I would rather he had sent me completely the wrong way rather than score the way he did.

"It was very frustrating to save it and then have him put the rebound in."

So far, Shaka confirms that he is happy with the way the season has begun and seems content with the progress that has been made since last season, especially in terms of squad depth.

"Only a few weeks ago the squad was looking desperately weak, but a lot of players have come back from injury, a couple of signings have added to the quality and the strength in depth of the squad, so it's looking much better than it was", he explains.

"Now we've got to hope for a bit of luck, which we certainly didn't have with Arjan de Zeeuw recently. Hopefully we can get him back quickly and we can avoid any more injuries, then I think that we stand in really good stead. A lot of how well we do, especially for a club of our size and stature is dependant on how well we avoid injuries and how well we cope with injuries and suspensions. We're a club of modest size with a squad to match and when you have the amount of injuries that we had last season, of course it's gonna tell on your form."

Among the summer signings made by the Club were two young goalkeepers, Jamie Ashdown from Reading and Andrea Guatelli from Parma and Pompey's current number one has been impressed by what he has seen so far from his two understudies.

"Jamie really looks a very good goalkeeper", he confirms. "He's big, he's strong and technically he's excellent and I think he'll be a fantastic acquisition over time. He's very sure exactly what he can do and he's chomping at the bit to get his chance in the team and I'm sure once he does he'll cope fantastically well because I do rate him highly."

"Andrea is a bit younger; a fantastic athlete and he's showing that. His experience here will do him the world of good and I'm sure he'll go from strength to strength as well."

Shaka himself has been called into the latest Trinidad and Tobago side for their up and coming World Cup qualifying match and is pleased to be back in the fold.

"I've played only one friendly for them back in March over the last two years" he says. It's nice to play for your country at this stage in my career and obviously I must be doing something right. I'm happy because it is a recognition from others on what I am doing and how they think I'm playing at the moment."

And for Pompey Shaka just wants to enjoy another season that he hopes will flourish.

"I'm starting to sound like a stuck record now, but for me it's all about enjoying the season. I'm at the stage of my career now where I just want to enjoy myself as much as possible", he tells us. "Obviously the more we win and the better we do, the more I enjoy it, but not winning and not having a smile on my face is not what I want out of this season or any season. I want to smile and I want to enjoy it."