Quique Sanchez Flores says Heurelho Gomes, the fine wine of a keeper who is getting better with age, is capable of remaining Watford’s first-choice goalkeeper for years to come.
The Brazilian, 35, has been outstanding for the Hornets this campaign and is a key reason why the club will play a second straight season of Premier League football for the first time in its history. He has produced impressive performance after impressive performance – the latest of which was against West Bromwich Albion this afternoon.
During a tight game at The Hawthorns, Gomes saved two second-half penalties from Saido Berahino, becoming the first goalkeeper to do so in two Premier League matches. The first instance was back in April 2010 when he stopped two spot-kicks from Darren Bent in Tottenham’s 3-1 defeat to Sunderland. Gomes also saved one earlier this season at Bournemouth.
“Gomes is a specialist in these penalty situations,” Quique Sanchez Flores said after Watford’s 1-0 win this afternoon. “We can never be safe against a penalty, of course, but when Heurelho is there everything is possible.”
If it wasn’t for the former Tottenham stopper Watford would’ve left the Black Country without the victory which took them above the 40-point barrier in the Premier League. As he was against Chelsea, Bournemouth and Everton at home as well as Bournemouth away, Gomes was the reason Watford did not finish empty-handed. Contracted until the summer of 2018, Gomes can continue playing at the highest level for years to come, according to his head coach.
“Heurelho has played at the top level throughout his career,” the Spaniard said. “I respect him a lot. He is one of our leaders, not just because he saved a couple of penalties today. Every day at the training ground he works hard and helps manage the dressing room. He is an example to the rest of the squad.
“It depends on the player [how long they want to continue their playing career]. He is fit so if he wants to continue for many more years then he can do for sure. It’s up to him, though. I want the best for Heurelho because he is an amazing player but also a very good man. He is very, very important for us.”
Gomes’ performance raises an interesting dilemma for Sanchez Flores ahead of Watford’s FA Cup semi-final against Crystal Palace next weekend. Costel Pantilimon has started in goal for the last three cup ties but, with so much at stake at Wembley, could Sanchez Flores opt to go with his first-choice stopper?
“At the moment I’m only thinking about the match against West Ham United,” the Watford head coach said. “I’m not thinking about the semi-final. But since the beginning of the season I’ve had a plan and I won’t change it. I’ve been very happy with the performances of Heurelho this season. But it hasn’t changed my idea about the future.”
In goal for West Bromwich Albion was Ben Foster, the winner of the Player of the Season award the last time Watford were in the Premier League. Gomes is nailed on to win it this time round.