Antti Niemi was amongst a long-standing group of top Premier League goalkeepers during a golden era for the Premier League.
The former Southampton and Fulham star was amongst the most reliable stoppers in the top flight between 2002 and 2008, a period during which he kept 34 clean sheets.
At the highest level, Petr Cech and Jens Lehmann arrived to nail down No.1 spots at Chelsea and Arsenal respectively whilst Edwin van der Sar starred at Fulham to earn a Manchester United move.
Alongside Niemi lower down the table, the likes of Brad Friedel, Tim Howard, Shay Given and Jussi Jaaskelainen were all held in high regard.
Looking back, it was a strong spell for the most important position in football – but Niemi reckons times have changed.
Antti Niemi was part of a golden age for the Premier League but believes the game has changed
The 48-year-old Finn, who retired due to a wrist injury in 2008 before a brief return with Portsmouth the following year, believes demands are constantly on the ascendancy for those between the sticks.
“There are no bad goalkeepers in the Premier League,” he says, courtesy of Coffee Friend.
“You think about football overall, there are millions and millions of player all around the world and just a small number end up playing in the Premier League, especially goalkeepers.
“Anyone who is playing in the Premier League is a top, top keeper. The standard is high and the game has changed.
“Even I stopped playing in 2008, and in just over ten years it’s more demanding every season because the game is changing.
Niemi kept 34 clean sheets and played well over 100 games in the Premier League
“It’s not enough any more that you make saves – you have to be really good on the ball, play out with your feet and have so many attributes.”
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