Name: Graham Stack
How old were you when you first started playing football and did you always want to be a goalkeeper?
I started football at the age of 7, I was at QPR from 9 to 11 and eventually at the age of 12 I was offered a trial at Arsenal as a midfielder after representing my Borough and County as an outfield player. I found myself training with the goalkeepers on a recommendation by Bob Wilson after having attended a Bob Wilson Goalkeeping School, where I won an award for Goalkeeper With Most Potential which was presented to me by David Seaman.
Where and when did you get your big break?
Signing a scholarship at Arsenal at the age of 16.
Did you face any obstacles along the way, ever think it wasn’t going to happen and if so how did you get past them?
The strength of competition was an obstacle to me, there were good goalkeepers at the club and these were my obstacle. To get past this I was extremely determined and hardworking, I also used the best coaches that were available to me to learn from.
Who was your biggest influence growing up?
Peter Schmeichel and David Seaman.
How do you prepare for a big game? Any tips on warm-ups?
I eat well, rest plenty, mentally prepare myself, plenty of touches of the ball with hands and feet, nothing too demanding.
Are you superstitious or do you have any pre-game rituals?
I make the sign off the cross 3 times before any game – 1 for each of my children (Leila 4, Gracie 2 and George 6 months)
What techniques do you employ to keep focused for the full 90 minutes?
Talking, I like to communicate a lot as it keeps my concentration.
What goalkeeper gloves do you wear and how important is the right goalkeeper glove to you?
Sells Wrap – All goalkeeper gloves in this day and age are of excellent quality – but I have used this brand for many years.
What are the main features you look for in a goalkeeper glove?
Grip and comfort.
Since you’ve started playing what is the most important bit of advice you’ve been given and by whom?
Work hard and use your ability to its best to achieve as much as possible.
What’s been your biggest career highlight(s) so far?
Being involved in the Arsenal Premiership winning team.
Who is/has been your toughest opponent and do you prepare differently to face them? (Team and player)
Celtic / Anthony Stokes – He looks to shoot at every opportunity regardless of distance and angle and also carries a threat from set pieces.
Any advice you could give to young goalkeepers trying to break through?
Be patient, and grab the opportunity with both hands when it arises.