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Joe’s spot on as Camden make Games history

Goalkeeper saves two penalties in dramatic London Youth Games football finals

12 July, 2018 — By Steve Barnett

Caleb Adomako-Mensah in action for Camden during their London Youth Games final against Lewisham

FORGET England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, the shot-stopper who really deserves the number one spot is Joe West.

Despite being the smallest player on the pitch, mighty Joe was the hero in not one, but two heart-stopping penalty shootouts as Camden made sure that there is at least one major football trophy coming home this summer.

Displaying a team performance and togetherness that England gaffer Gareth Southgate would be proud of, the boys saw off competition from the capital’s other 32 boroughs to win gold at the London Youth Games on Saturday at the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre. It’s the first time that Team Camden has struck gold in the boys’ football championships in the Games’ 41-year history.

Camden looked in good shape as they negotiated their way out of the group stages, and progressed past the quarter-finals. It was then, in the semi-final, that things really started to get nail-biting.

They were 1-0 down against Lambeth when Caleb-Adomako-Mensah smashed home an equaliser to send the tie to sudden-death spot-kicks. There was no best of three, or best of five – it was far more nerve-wracking, with the team that misses first going home.

Joe West saves a penalty in the dramatic shootout

If the pressure was getting to Joe, it certainly didn’t show as he displayed cat-like reflexes to save the very first penalty, giving his team-mate Aaron Keto the chance to score and send Camden into the final, which he duly accepted.

Camden found themselves a goal down again in the final, this time against Lewisham, when Acland Burghley schoolboy Alfie Johnson came off the bench and scored an equaliser in the final seconds of the match.

Again it was to come down to penalties, and again Joe, who, like the core of the team plays for Camden Elite, was ready. He sprung to his right to keep the ball out, handing Sol Alidor-Hamilton the chance to secure some golden memories for the squad as he scored the winner.

Reflecting on his heroics, Joe revealed just how he got the upper hand in the shoot-out.

“I just kind of picked a corner,” he said. “I said to the taker before the penalty in the final was taken, ‘just don’t miss’, and I think that got inside his head – it was just tactics, to get inside his pocket.

On my part there were no nerves, it was just a case of getting the job done.

“Helping Camden win the gold medal is a great feeling. I wasn’t even meant to be playing in goal today, I was going to play outfield, but last-minute I stepped in.”

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