The team you support offers you a trial. You impress in training, but of course there's no seeing past the first team goalkeeper, be he Pepe Reina, Victor Valdes, Manuel Neuer, or, er, Leandro Chichizola (look, I'm a River Plate fan, okay?).
Now, let's imagine that on the morning of the derby, a very complicated series of events leads to the first team, reserve, and even youth goalkeepers being unavailable. Calls are made, special clearance is granted, and next thing you know, you're being kitted out to play. In an actual league game.
How is that going to go for you? Well, there's the dream, and there's the reality.
In the dream, we make save after save, pluck crosses from the air, maybe even set up a goal on the counter with a stylish side volley. It's still football, right? At whatever level, it's still a ball and a goal and twenty-two players. There are, perhaps, one or two complications.
The first, for me, is the speed of play. Goalkeeping is generally a reactive position; we watch the play develop and unfold before us, and react when we're brought into it. a keeper new to the top flight might find it all happening a bit fast. Oh sure, we watch games on TV and sometimes find them drab, staid affairs. But stand in goal in that same game, and chances are you'll find all the runs, the passing, the combination play, especially near your goal, happening at an astounding rate. The problems this might cause are many, but mostly positional. Balls over the top would be especially challenging. Not only is there a good chance you may struggle to anticipate the pass in the first place, but you'll also be dealing with faster players chasing after it. struggle at all with the first one and you can expect many, many more.
Next is the physical element. How will you cope at the first corner or set piece when you're crowded out by the likes of George Elokobi or Micah Richards? you don't have to be as big and strong as they are, but you'd better be strong enough to bounce back up if one of them runs you over.
Just push him out of the way.
Even if you aren't the biggest or strongest, surely your shot-stopping ability will keep the day from being a total catastrophe? It may well. But professional players strike a ball very differently to the rest of the world. They hit it with pace, with spin, with swerve. Footballs are lighter than ever and when pros put their foot through it, scary things can happen. If you aren't used to a steady diet of shots swerving viciously towards you, you again will be in for a long ninety minutes. Look what this shot does to Jussi Jaaskeleinen - and he's played over 400 games at this level.
Despite all these challenges, there is one thing you're going to have on your side: adrenalin. Adrenalin like you've never felt before, at least not on a football pitch. However strong you are, however quick your reflexes and explosive your leap, you're going to be a little bit stronger, quicker, and more explosive on the day. Your parasympathetic nervous system will go into overdrive, flooding your limbs with adrenalin. Assuming your defense plays out of their skin, you just may survive it. Probably not, but maybe.
But probably not.
But probably not.