AS a teenager Chris Maxwell believed a goalkeeper wasn’t playing his part unless he was making loads of saves in every game.
Today he admits if he didn’t touch the ball at all throughout the 90 minutes he would be happy - a change in attitude brought about thanks to Welsh goalkeeping legend Neville Southall. The former Everton star’s advice to the young Maxwell was simple: “If you’re saving shots, then you are not doing your job properly.”
Maxwell, naturally, queried that assertion but, revealed the Hibs goalkeeper, he fully understands the wisdom of Southall’s words.
He said: “I’m from the same area of Wales as Neville - he was a hero of mine. e used to come to our boys’ clubs ceremonies and give us trophies.
“He was heavily involved in the Welsh set-up when I was at a young age. Every month 20 goalkeepers aged 15 and under would go down to Cardiff and he would work with us there.
“Neville said: ‘If you’re organising the boys in front of you, you’re taking crosses, you’re keeping the ball and you’re sweeping behind, then you don’t have to save shots. And if you’re not saving shots they’re not scoring goals’.
“It was as simple as that. If you think about it, if you can stop it at source and you’re not being bombarded by shots every game, then you’re not going to concede as many goals. You can see everything on the pitch and something I really believe in is communication and organisation with the players in front of you. You have to do that with every position on the pitch because it makes your job easier.”
And Maxwell, on loan from Preston North End for the season, insisted the fact he’d only been beaten three times in Hibs’ past three matches, one of them from the penalty spot, was proof of that approach working.
“As a group we are doing really well defensively,” he said. “Yeah, there have been a couple of goals here and there which haven’t gone our way, but on another day that won’t happen.
“I’m not having to make a lot of saves so something’s going right, something is working. I would rather win every week and not have to touch the ball, it’s all about winning.”
Maxwell has insisted he never came to Easter Road to simply be the understudy to Ofir Marciano.
The Welshman agreed to join the Capital outfit on a season-long loan from Preston North End, and while he featured in some of the club’s early Betfred Cup ties, he had to wait until the derby with Hearts for his first taste of Premiership action.
Maxwell has held the gloves since then, relegating Israeli internationalist Marciano to the bench for the past five matches, a situation he intends to continue for the foreseeable future.
“I had no ambition to come up here and play second fiddle,” revealed the 29-year-old.
“At any point of my career, whether I have been a five-year-old kicking the ball in the back garden with my brother, or if I am 40-years-old, I don’t want to be sitting watching football. That’s all I have loved, that’s all I want to do, play football week in, week out, and that will never change.
“I’m loving it and I just
want to keep enjoying my football.”