From: Sunderland - £40 000 - July 1996
Career stats: Soccerbase
He is: A true professional
Past Profiles: June 2003, May 2001, June 2000
A great deal has been written about Alec Chamberlain over the years, much of it of course focusing on his heroics during the play off year. Indeed, his profile written in 2000 sums up his part in Watford’s history:
“Without his staggering save to Johnson's header in injury time at St Andrews, there would've been no penalty shoot-out, no Wembley, no Nicky Wright and Allan Smart memories, and no Premiership.”
Whether you read about Chamberlain’s pre-Watford career, his successful move to Watford despite the Luton connection, his part in our rise to the Premiership and the two Player of the Season awards along the way, what shines through is his professionalism, dedication and humility. This is a man who has never forgotten how lucky he is to be playing professional football.
Of course, it hasn’t been all plain sailing for the Watford ‘keeper. He has had to endure being No. 2 many times during his Watford career: to Kevin Miller, Espen Baardsen, Lenny Pidgeley, Paul Jones, Richard Lee and now Ben Foster. Each time he loses his place, though, Chamberlain just gets on with it with the same spirit and dedication as when he’s the first choice ‘keeper. He has the confidence in his own ability and waits patiently for his chance – and when it comes, he slots back in to place as if he’s never been away. Take last season, for instance, when Richard Lee got injured towards the end of the season when we were still battling against relegation. Chamberlain stepped in for the remaining games and helped ensure our survival, keeping three clean sheets out of four.
A profile about Alec Chamberlain wouldn’t be complete without mention of his testimonial season and I for one am delighted that he is being rewarded for his years of service. There’s a question mark over testimonials these days, with some people believing that players earn enough money already. That might be why the attendance at the Watford v Charlton game was so low. Or perhaps it was the fact that relations between the club and the fans were at their lowest point for years. Either way, the game came and went fairly quietly, with little fanfare. The Rookery sang Chamberlain’s name sporadically throughout the game, but that was about it. I was talking to a friend about this and he reckoned that it wasn’t to do with fan apathy, but strangely enough to do with Chamberlain himself. If I can quote from an email he sent me, he said:
“He's so dependable, trustworthy, professional and reliable that he doesn't necessarily provoke extreme reactions …. Some players who blow hot and cold and can be world beaters one minute then pants the next probably provoke a more extreme reaction than guys like Alec.”
Anyway, at nearly forty-one, Chamberlain’s playing career is now drawing to a close and I’m not sure whether we will see him in first team action any more. Let’s hope he continues his role as goalkeeping coach at Watford once his playing days are over; after all, what greater role model could there be for the youngsters?
Last updated: September 2005