Player Profile: Steve Ogrizovic

Steve Ogrizovic is one of those players who I have no recollection of ever being young. In my mind he has always been old and was born in goal for Coventry City.

Oggy as he was popularly known, enjoyed 16 years with Coventry and he holds the distinguished club record of 209 consecutive League appearances for a Coventry City player, from August 1984 to September 1989.

He made over 500 appearances for the Sky Blues and is one of only four players to have played top flight football in four different decades, along with John Lukic, Peter Shilton and Sir Stanley Matthews.

Considering his lengthy achievements with Coventry, it is surprising to learn that he had been a professional for seven years and was a European Cup winner twice, before he left for Highfield Road.

Ogrizovic was taken away from his first choice career as a Nottingham policeman by Chesterfield, who snapped him up in 1977, before selling him to Liverpool for the princely sum of £70k in the same year.

His time at Anfield was certainly his most trophy laden, as he saw his side pick up the European Cup twice in 1978 and 1981; however Ogrizovic only played four matches in his five seasons at Liverpool.

He was sold to Shrewsbury Town in 1982 and after two seasons was signed by Coventry for £72.5k, a fee that seems miniscule by today’s standards.

During his residency with at Highfield Road he earned cult status with Sky Blues followers and fans across the country for his dependable shot stopping and his massive hands. The only trophy he won at Coventry was the FA Cup winner in 1987, but Ogrizovic was denied the opportunity to play in Europe by the ban on English teams in European competition in the aftermath of the Heysel stadium disaster.

Despite his consistent appearances in goal he was never honoured with an England cap during career, as he was perhaps seen as an unfashionable choice, playing for an unfashionable club. However, if players such as one cap wonder Kevin Richardson represented his country, then Ogrizovic certainly deserved his token appearance.

A player who just loved playing football, his last season as Coventry’s first choice keeper was in 1997/98 and at the age of 40 he was the oldest player to play in the Premier League that year. He stayed for a further two seasons as second choice keeper behind Magnus Hedman, before finally retiring at the age of 42.

He couldn’t leave his beloved Coventry though and was appointed manager of the reserve team, before briefly taking over as caretaker manager with Trevor Peake for the final games of the 2001/02 season, after Roland Nilsson’s departure and before Gary McAllister’s arrival.

Destined to just be consigned to annals of football history as an ever present keeper, Ogrizovic’s cult status among fans would be enhanced by a couple of chance scenarios that were out of his big hands.

In 2003 it was bizarrely and incorrectly reported that Oggy was being held prisoner by the Kazakhstan government, following accusations of spying. It is however highly doubtful that a footballer would ever be recruited as a spy and probably even more doubtful that Steve Ogrizovic would be either, considering his memorably rugged appearance, as he hardly has the look of a man who could blend into any scenario.

He was obviously baffled by the claims, but maintained a level head about the situation and offered a sensible and rational explanation for the whole thing.

“I haven’t made any trips to Kazakhstan of late, nor am I planning to”

“I can only assume that with the well-documented break-throughs in science of late, I have obviously been cloned” he told the BBC.

His status was firmly cemented in popular culture after he was mentioned in the 2008 Gavin & Stacey Christmas special as a friend of Nessa’s.

Tags: Coventry City, Steve Ogrizovic

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wllmhll 11 July 2009 at 8:22am

with a face only a mother could love.

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