Waikato keeper's punching well above his height

Everything about Waikato FC's new goalkeeper is big. Greg Walters, an American import who is here for the remainder of the New Zealand Football Championship, is a big lad with a big jump, big attitude on the pitch and big footballing aspirations off it.

On the strength of just a DVD and two training sessions, Walters was chosen to start Waikato's round three game against Otago on Sunday and, after a less than ideal start, was very impressive.

Walters was livid with himself for letting in a near-post goal in the ninth minute, but after that he was brilliant in the air, forcing Otago to pull back their crosses to a less dangerous area, and for a big man he was strong on the ground too.

"I think I played well." he said.

"You know, I'm my worst critic and I think I played all right, but could have been better.

"Letting in a near-post goal for a goalkeeper is very hard to deal with and I won't be forgetting it."

It took a gutsy call for coach Dave Edmondson to play the 24-year-old over Onehunga Sports keeper Jason Mann in the 3-1 win, but it was the right one.

Mann had been strong in the opening two games and is a quality keeper, but Walters, admittedly after just the one game in New Zealand, looks class.

While Walters dominates the goal box and is confident, especially in the air, he admitted to being worried about travelling all this way just to sit on the bench.

"It's very scary. I was full of nerves about coming here and not getting to play.

"Then when I got here and saw Jason (Mann) was in the (NZFC's) team of the week and not knowing Dave (Edmondson) it was very scary."

Walters said after seeing Mann in person and realising how good a keeper he was up against, he knew he would have to "bust my arse".

"Oops sorry, you'll have to forgive my language."

Walters was getting sick of sitting on the bench back home and he hopes a strong season with Waikato will create more opportunities.

He was third choice keeper for the Carolina RailHawks, a team in the USL1 league - one league below the elite MLS.

Walters said it had been frustrating to sit on the bench after a strong college career and part of his move to New Zealand was to get game time and to build on his CV.

But he's also keen on doing the tourist thing when he gets a chance and Wellington appears to be a place of interest for him.

"I've heard (Phoenix goal keeper) Glen Moss is leaving to a Melbourne club.

"I'd love to play in the A-League and would love a trial with the Phoenix."

Big goals for a big man.

Waikato Times