Full Name: Michael McGovern
Date of Birth: 12/07/1984
Age: 35 years Old
Nationality: Northern Irish
Place of Birth: Enniskillen, Northern Ireland
How did it feel going into Euro 2016 knowing you were out of contract? Did you see it as an opportunity to show off your ability? Or did you just focus on Northern Ireland?
I just focused on Northern Ireland. I knew that the opportunity to play at a major tournament for my country may never happen again so I wanted to embrace it and enjoy the experience. I knew that my club situation would sort itself out if I performed well. The club situation rarely entered my thinking during the tournament.
You received a lot of praise throughout the tournament for your performances, but without a doubt your stand out game came against Germany – how did you feel before, during and after the game?
Before the Germany game I felt calm and focused. I wasn’t nervous as I knew I had prepared as best I could and because of that I could accept how the game went good or bad. During the game I blanked everything out apart from the players on the pitch like I always do and afterwards I was really happy with how I played but still hoping results would go our way elsewhere so we could qualify.
Your performance against Germany had quite a few keepers and coaches talking about your style being similar to what is coached in futsal goalkeeping – is there any background there or is that just your natural style?
I didn’t know people were talking about me using futsal techniques. I’ve never watched a game of futsal before. I played Gaelic football in Ireland when I was younger and that probably has an effect on my style, especially on 1 v 1 and the way I spread myself. Those type of situations happen a lot to a goalkeeper in Gaelic football and you need to brave.
Following the tournament you were offered a deal with Championship side Norwich City, how have you adapted to life at the club? I presume you have signed with the ambition to be their number 1?
I have enjoyed life at my new club so far. I knew the manager having played for him previously at Hamilton and that was a big factor in my decision. My aim is to be the number 1 goalkeeper at the club and I will work hard to make that happen but I know that I’m up against very good keepers in John and Declan. At this level there is always going to be strong competition for places but I’m looking forward to the challenge.
Goalkeeping seems to be continually evolving at the moment with Keepers like Neuer and Lloris having very different styles to what we are used to in past years. What has been the biggest change to your game over your career?
The biggest change to my game has been my distribution. I’ve worked hard to improve on this area and I now see it as one of my strengths. The amount of time we spend on video analysis has changed over the years. When I first started out there was hardly anything done on this but now there is so much used.
Since you’ve started playing what is the most important bit of advice you’ve been given and by whom?
The most important piece of advice was from my coach at Celtic. He told me to always maintain a good attitude. He showed me example of Rab Douglas at the club who had that and told me to copy him.
Any advice you could give to young goalkeepers trying to break through?
Don’t dwell on mistakes for too long but learn from them.
How old were you when you first started playing football and did you always want to be a goalkeeper?
I joined my first team Enniskillen Town when I was 10. I started off playing outfield but I soon realised I was better in goals and I enjoyed it more because I was better at it.
Where and when did you get your big break?
I got my big break when I signed for Celtic at 16.
Did you face any obstacles along the way and if so how did you get past the obstacles?
I faced many obstacles. If you look back on my career you will see that. To get past the obstacles I just worked hard and kept faith that my ability would eventually shine through.
How do you prepare for a big game?
I prepare the same for every game the same way. I don’t do anything differently for big games.
Any tips on warm-ups?
A warm up is an individual thing. I don’t do too much diving about in warm up. Volleys and half volleys to get my eye in. Then some crosses and kicking to finish. The most important thing is that you are mentally ready as a lot of goalkeeping is decision making and focus.
Are you superstitious or do you have any pre-game rituals?
I try to keep to the same routines for games but if I don’t end up following them for whatever reason I won’t stress about it.
What techniques do you employ to keep focused for the full 90 minutes?
To keep focused I try to read the game if it’s in the opposition half. I’m always thinking about what pass might be played next. I’ve found that the more games I’ve played the easier it is to maintain my focus. When I was younger my focus use to be better in the bigger games.
What goalkeeper gloves do you wear and how important is the right goalkeeper glove to you?
I wear Uhlsport and I think it’s very important to be happy with your gloves as you need to trust them at times through the game.
What’s been your biggest career highlight(s) so far?
Every time I’ve played for Northern Ireland has been a highlight. The 3 game that stand out are the Greece game where we qualified, the Ukraine game at the euros which we won 2-0 and on a personal level the Germany game.
Away from the football pitch and training ground what do you enjoy doing?
Away from football I like to spend as much time as I can with my wife and my 2 young kids.
Thanks very much Michael! Best of luck with your move to Norwich!