Cologne - Becoming a goalkeeper may not be high up on every kid's list when they turn up for their first-ever football training session, yet that could be changing, in Germany at least.
In a country with a rich tradition of consummate custodians, FIFA Ballon d'Or 2015 contender Manuel Neuer, along with many of his Bundesliga contemporaries, are making the profession more glamorous than ever before.
The FC Bayern München No1 practically invented the new breed of 'sweeper-keeper'. His style of defending on the edge of his box was perhaps most in evidence during Germany's 2014 FIFA Word Cup success, but he has been doing the same for both Bayern and former club FC Schalke 04 for years, joining in with his team's build-up play and occupying the 'D'.
Neuer's positioning allows him to be out in a flash to make a challenge, either aerially or on the ground. And while the 28-year-old may sometimes provide the odd heart-stopping moment for Bayern and Germany fans, the majority of the time he prevents what would otherwise be gilt-edged chances, nullifying any threat at source.
Unorthodox but effective
And when he does stay on his line, the current IFFHS World Goalkeeper of the Year is also one of the best in the shot-stopping business, as he proved in the goalless draw at Borussia Mönchengladbach on Matchday 9, which preserved Bayern's unbeaten run in the league and earned him the bundesliga.com Player of the Week award.
Training with Neuer on international duty seems to be rubbing off on Hannover 96's Ron-Robert Zieler too. Already regarded as one of the most talented up-and-coming goalkeepers when he was drafted into Manchester United FC's youth academy in 2005, almost ten years on he is now approaching 130 Bundesliga appearances.
In Hannover's 1-0 win at Borussia Dortmund last weekend, Zieler triumphed against one of the most fearsome frontlines in the division and, like Neuer, he also ventured off his line to sweep up at the back when required. Both keepers have grasped that, in the modern game and especially in the attack-minded Bundesliga, simply keeping the ball out is the bare minimum requirement of a goalkeeper.
Keeping a clean sheet, like 1. FC Köln's 20-year-old Timo Horn did in his first four Bundesliga outings, can earn as many headlines nowadays as a striker netting a hat-trick, while Gladbach supporters never tire of hearing that Yann Sommer has had more touches of the ball than some outfield players after a game.
With goalkeepers becoming a more integral part of the game, the position has been rendered all the more attractive. Former Dortmund, Schalke and 61-time international Jens Lehmann concludes Germany is a country that boasts many good custodians because the nation has always respected the position, more so than in many other countries.
Take a look at Manuel Neuer's top 5 saves in the Bundesliga courtesy of our official YouTube channel: