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Barber: ‘Okonkwo has potential to go to the top’

24 November 2022

Crewe Alexandra loan keeper Arthur Okonkwo could go right to the top of the game.

That’s according to keeper coach Fred Barber, who says the 21-year-old Arsenal man’s appetite for learning and developing could help him become a Premier League star in the future.

Okonkwo has kept eight clean sheets and saved two penalties since arriving at Mornflake Stadium. And the 6ft 6ins custodian has not conceded a goal in his last five hours of football.

Barber said: “The world is his oyster, he can be whatever he wants to be. 

“He is a good learner, a good listener, and he’s come on a lot. He’s got great physical attributes and he is talented, and he is prepared to work very hard to get better.

“I didn’t realise how much work there was to be done with him, if I’m honest. To get Arthur here, I got Aaron Ramsdale – who I used to coach - to pull a few favours for me, because there were a few clubs after him, from the Championship down.

“Aaron told Arthur to come here because he knows he will get the right work, how hard he will be worked, and that I can make him better. 

“I spoke to the Arsenal keeper coach and he said I had free rein to work with him however I saw fit, so we’ve been working on many aspects, including kicking and positioning.

“When he first came he was a long way out of his goal, trying to use his frame to make saves. But I want him to be deeper so he has more reaction time. We saw in the win over Colchester, a couple of saves he made he wouldn’t have done earlier in the season, because of his positioning.

“Through the work we have done you can see how much he has improved. I always look after the keepers, so they realise I do care about them. Anything they need, I’m there. You become a father figure and best mate. ”

Barber is delighted with Crewe’s recent run of results in particular – three consecutive 1-0 successes.

He added: “Being a keeper coach, it’s all about clean sheets and there’s nothing better than a 1-0 win. It was a great result on Saturday at Swindon.


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