Penalty-saving expert Collin is spot-on with goalkeeping academy

Adam giving some advice to youngsters at one of his coaching sessions.
Adam giving some advice to youngsters at one of his coaching sessions.

When it comes to saving penalties, professional goalkeeper Adam Collin, who lives in Warsop, boasts something of a remarkable record.

For the various clubs he has played for during his career, he has a 100 per cent record in seven penalty shootouts, including at Wembley, and has saved at least two spot-kicks in every one.

An alert young 'keeper at one of the AC1 sessions.

An alert young 'keeper at one of the AC1 sessions.

Now the 33-year-old, currently with Notts County, is passing on those skills and know-how to budding young ‘keepers in the Mansfield area, via his unique AC1 Goalkeeping Academy, which is thriving.

“It’s something I have been thinking about doing for a couple of years,” said Collin. “But since getting my contract at Notts County and settling down in Warsop, I’ve had a solid base from which to do it.

“It’s going really well. It is getting bigger and better by the week, and has really snowballed since the start of this season.

“I now have between 50 and 60 goalkeepers, aged between six and 16, on my books, mostly from the Mansfield area but also some from Nottingham, Sheffield and Rotherham.

Adam with five of his young goalkeepers at AC1.

Adam with five of his young goalkeepers at AC1.

“I haven’t really advertised the academy either, apart from on my Facebook page. It’s all happened through word of mouth.”

What’s more, Collin has even launched a revolutionary Goalie Wars League, which is believed to be the first of its kind in the entire country.

Goalies take each other on, one against one, in matches lasting three minutes. They take it in turns to fire shots at each other, with the winners picking up points in a league table.

There are leagues running at the moment for U9s, U11s and U13s, and next June, he hosts the first national Goalie Wars tournament, to be held at Eastwood Community Football Club.

At full stretch is one of the young goalkeepers at the AC1 academy.

At full stretch is one of the young goalkeepers at the AC1 academy.

“The young lads absolutely love Goalie Wars, and the tournament will be a massive event,” Collin says. “There will be 140 goalkeepers there from all over the place, in age groups ranging from U8s to U16s.”

Standing 6’5”, the giant Penrith-born stopper began his career at Newcastle United in 2002. But after failing to break into the first team there, and after loan spells at Doncaster Rovers and Oldham Athletic, he made his name in the non-league game with Workington.

In five seasons there, he made 211 appearances and forged his reputation for penalty heroics when saving three in a shootout that helped Workington win promotion to the Conference North.

Soon he was playing league football with Carlisle United, where he saved a penalty that helped the Cumbrians to Wembley for the 2010 Football League Trophy final against Southampton, which they lost 4-1 in front of a crowd of 74,000.

And after 133 starts for Carlisle, he was snapped up by Rotherham United, helping them gain promotion to the Championship by saving two penalties in the shootout of the 2014 play-off final against Leyton Orient.

Although currently out injured with knee ligament damage, Collin still feels he has plenty of football left in him yet, especially with Notts County going great guns in League Two under Kevin Nolan.

But once his career is over, he is hoping to turn AC1 Goalkeeping into a fully-fledged business. “I’m probably at maximum capacity at the moment, but when I finish playing, I could expand it even more,” he says.

If he does, he will certainly have plenty of backing from fellow pros, parents and local businesses if his current set-up is anything to go by.

Collin runs sessions three nights a week at Joseph Whitaker School in Rainworth and Garibaldi College in Forest Town, and receives regular help from his fellow Notts County ‘keepers, Ross Fitzsimons and Slovakian Bran Pindroch, plus Mansfield Town’s U19s’ stopper, Sam Wilson. He has also secured a lucrative sponsorship deal with the Chesterfield-based business Power Saving Solutions, run by former Stags chairman Andy Perry, and has been showered with praise from grateful mums and dads.

“To have four professional ‘keepers doing the coaching is a massive bonus,” says Collin. “And the support we get from Andy is great. He has just helped to buy new AC1 kits for the kids, and many of them will be getting them as presents for Christmas. His own lad, Ellis, is a very good U9s’ goalie.

“Most of the youngsters who come along play for their local sides in the Mansfield Chad League or the Young Elizabethan League, but they have no goalkeeping coaches there. At training, they just do what the outfield players do. But here at the academy, they can get specialised training, based on specific things like diving, agility, positioning and crosses.”

Evidence that his approach definitely works can be found in the glowing testimonials from parents on the AC1 Facebook page. Chris Draycott says: “My lad has been training with AC1 and he has loved it. His confidence has grown no end.”

Stacey Beastall writes: “Even though my son Elliot has only been going for a few weeks, he loves it and is getting much more confident in himself and his decision-making.”

A post from Debra Pearson reads: “My son’s confidence, technique and ability have come on leaps and bounds. I would definitely recommend AC1 to anyone thinking of looking at specialised coaching.”

Dad Simon Plackett says: “The progress my son has made with Adam’s guidance and coaching has been absolutely first class. I can’t recommend AC1 highly enough.” Andrea Ruskin says simply: “Brilliant guy and excellent goalkeeper.”

With Notts County aiming for the League Two title and his sideshoot business flourishing, no wonder Collin describes the 2017/18 season as “fantastic so far”.

Given where he lives and given that he played for manager Steve Evans when the Scot was in charge at Rotherham, it is ironic that the Stags could emerge as one of the Magpies’ main promotion rivals.

For the sake of Mansfield fans, let’s hope it doesn’t come down to a penalty shootout between the two teams in the promotion play-off final at Wembley!