“It was like a Gordon Banks save, wasn’t it?” – High praise for Western United match-winner Jamie Young

If finals football is about moments, a singular point in a game when the victor and the vanquished are decided, then Western United keeper Jamie Young put in a famous A-League Men’s finals performance against Wellington Phoenix on Saturday evening. 

Untied’s custodian produced a series of stunning saves to keep Phoenix at bay over the course of his side’s 1-0 victory – a win that sets up a two-legged semifinal with Melbourne Victory and guarantees that the 2021-22 ALM grand final will be staged at AAMI Park. 

His save of a Reno Piscopo effort in the sixth minute laid the table for Aleksander Prijovic to net what would become the winner four minutes later and he was again on hand to deny the Phoenix attacker when he laced in a second-half free-kick that would have tied things up. 

“I expect that from Jamie,” said United’s coach. “I’ve known Jamie for a long time, coached him in Brisbane so I knew that Jamie will and can pull off important saves.”

Young’s performance, however, peaked in the 71st minute of the contest, when he produced one of the best saves in A-League Men history, arguably its best. 

Getting down the right flank, Tim Payne whipped in a cross from the right flank that was met, on the charge, by James McGarry. 

His bullet header absolutely should have been a goal. It was delivered with power, away from Young and was initially shielded from the United keeper’s view by his own defenders. 

And yet somehow, the United shot-stopper made the save. 

It was inexplicable. It was miraculous. It was dumbfounding. And post-game, Aloisi compared it to one of the greatest saves of all time: Gordon Banks’ effort to keep a Pele header out in the 1970 World Cup. 

“It was like a Gordon Banks save, wasn’t it?” he remarked. “It did remind me of that. I wasn’t alive, obviously, at the time but I’ve seen that save a lot of times: when Pele had that header and Banks saved it.

“It was an incredible save. He obviously has the reflexes there and to have that strong hand to put it around the post was impressive.”

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It’s not often that your coach harkens your exploits to one of the most celebrated and replayed moments in footballing history, with Young initially taking a moment to gather himself when he was informed of the comparison. 

“It’s nice of the boss to say that,” he eventually said.

“The best thing about being an athlete is ‘can you execute big plays and big moments?’

“For me, that’s the most satisfying thing but if people want to compare it to goalkeeping royalty, then that’s okay for me too.”

Young signed for United ahead of the 2021-22 season after nearly a decade with Brisbane Roar, with whom he won multiple player of the season awards. 

It reunited the 36-year-old with Aloisi, who had coached him in Brisbane, and he said that that existing relationship was key in luring him to Tarneit. 

“I’ve known the boss, for probably a decade now and I know what he brings to the table. You’re looking at one of the top three coaches in the country and (Aloisi’s assistant) Hayden Foxe is right up there as well. 

“He’s at the training ground until six o’clock every night and he’s the first one in at training as well… and no one sees that.

“When you see someone like John or Foxy, where they’ve had such credentialed playing careers, they’re still willing to put their reputations on the line.

“And that’s quite inspiring. When he asked me to come here, and 36 years of age now, for me, it was about being in a quality environment. And that’s what I’ve got from Western United.”

Nonetheless, despite his attempt to keep a lid on things, Young’s performance will go down as one of the more important goalkeeping displays the ALM has seen.

Even Phoenix coach Ufuk Talay had to tip his cap. 

“Jamie Young was probably the best player on the park. That tells you a bit of a tale about the game,” he remarked.

Enjoying Joey’s coverage of Australian sport? Your support helps keep it possible.
You’re seeing this advert because this is an unpaid, self-published piece.

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Header Image Credit: Western United/FIFA

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