Bruce Grobbelaar is a goalkeeping legend!
Born in South Africa, October 1957, Grobbelaar was a talented cricketer and was also offered a baseball scholarship in the United States, but a career in football was his main ambition.
Grobbelaar started his football career with the Bulawayo based team – The Highlanders and was followed by a spell at Jomo Cosmos in South Africa.
Immediately after leaving Jomo Cosmos, Bruce signed up for National Service, spending two years on active service in the Rhodesian National Guard.
In 1979, Grobbelaar was signed up by the Vancouver Whitecaps of the NASL after he had attended their scouting camp in South Africa.
At the Vancouver Whitecaps, Bruce played under the management of former England & Blackpool goalkeeper, Tony Waiters, making his debut against the Seattle Sounders in 1980.
In 1980, Bruce travelled to the U.K. on loan to Crewe Alexandra. During his time at Crewe, Grobbelaar played 24 League games and scored his only professional goal, a penalty, in his last game. By good fortune, on the evening when he gave his greatest performance for Crewe, he was spotted by Liverpool’s Head Scout Tom Saunders.
Liverpool approached Tony Waiters with the idea of taking Grobbelaar to Anfield, and Waiters, who had a working relationship with Liverpool in the 1970s, paved the way for the move.
Grobbelaar signed for Liverpool for £250,000 in March 1981 as their reserve goalkeeper, but in the summer of 1981, regular goalkeeper Ray Clemence’s departure to Tottenham Hotspur gave Grobbelaar his opportunity making his debut in August 1981.
Between 1981 and 1994, Bruce Grobbelaar played 627 first-team games for Liverpool, becoming one of the club’s most successful goalkeepers.
Bruce was renowned not only for his extrovert personality but also for his unorthodox and frequently spectacular style of play.
With his gymnastic-like agility and unflappable confidence, Grobbelaar was never afraid to be seen to berate his defenders if he thought they had given easy opportunities to the opposition.
Bruce Grobbelaar left Liverpool in the summer of 1994, transferring to Southampton.
Despite the fuss caused by the match-fixing allegations, manager Alan Ball maintained faith in him, and he kept his place in the team for most of the 1994-95 season.
In the 1995-96 season the distraction of the court cases was such that Grobbelaar only managed 2 games for the Saints, before moving on to Plymouth Argyle for one season and spending short spells at Oxford United, Sheffield Wednesday, Oldham Athletic, Chesham United, Bury, Lincoln City and Northwich Victoria before returning to his native country.
Grobbelaar coached a number of teams in South Africa with various degrees of success including Seven Stars, Hellenic and was briefly player-manager of Zimbabwe’s national team.
Bruce Grobbelaar remains one of the most flamboyant and likeable figures in the history of football.
Bruce is now one of the UK’s football after-dinner speakers.