Since the Aston Villa Youth Cup game a few weeks ago, I’ve been meaning to highlight the progress of Fulham’s young goalkeeper. Marcello Trotta might have grabbed the plaudits with a brace that night, but Marcus Bettinelli was just as impressive.
For such a young man, he exuded confidence between the sticks. He’s been highly-rated by those in charge of development since joining Fulham from Crystal Palace as an Under-14 year-old, even if he first couple of years at the club were hampered by injuries. Bettinelli benefited massively from being on the full-time scholars’ programme as his goalkeeping came on leaps and bounds.
Anybody who has watched him regularly just can’t fail to be impressed. The ease of his movement is almost staggering, though perhaps not all that surprising when you consider he’s got the style that comes naturally to most Italians, and that helps him to save shots that other keepers just won’t get near (witness how straightforward he made crucial shoot-out stops against Bolton and Aston Villa) but that’s just one pleasing aspect of his game. What was most telling for me was Bettinelli’s communication skills. So often, young goalkeepers are quiet: but here’s a key who recognises that the man behind the play can see the game developing. He’s constantly talking to his back line, aiding their positioning and decision-making, and that’s such a boost to a defender.
Bettinelli, who captained the youth team last season, is certainly no stranger to recognition. He was voted the best goalkeeper at the recent the U19 International Sparkasse & VGH Cup in Gottingen, where Fulham reached the quarter-finals, and – should he keep progressing in this manner – then our goalkeeping prospects, what with David Stockdale getting handy first-team football on loan at Plymouth, look very good indeed.