Their Words

Their words: Paolo Tornaghi on the life of a 'backup' goalkeeper

Tornaghi - Their Words

Their stories, their emotions, their words. That, in a nutshell, is what thisseries on whitecapsfc.comis all about. What better way to get to know the 'Caps – your 'Caps – than to hear from them directly. No filter.No fluff. Just their words. 

Today, we hear from Paolo Tornaghi after his clean sheet on Tuesday

Their words: Paolo Tornaghi on the life of a 'backup' goalkeeper -

Since arriving in Canada, I’ve become a little more interested in ice hockey. In addition to watching a few games live, I’ve started reading some news about it here and there.

I smiled reading those comments and jokes about the “most beautiful job in the world:” the NHL backup goalkeeper. Good salary, few commitments – a short, paid vacation, essentially.

Or that’s what some people believe.  

What about in soccer, in MLS?

After nearly three years spent as backup to one of the best goalkeepers in this league, I can tell you how I live this role, what are the difficulties and how I keep myself always ready because as my old coach in Italy used to say: nel calcio tutto puó cambiare in un secondo.

“In soccer, everything can change in a second.”

It's clear that the possibility to play competitive matches are few during the season, except for some friendly matches, the Canadian Championship, and CONCACAF Champions League.

So I think it's important to have a high level of physical and technical training. This allows me to stay in tiptop shape, ensuring the body is ready at all times during the season if and when called upon. If this means doing extra training on the field or in the gym, then that’s what needs to be done – with full commitment and dedication.

The real key, however, is on the mental side.

It’s no secret that playing games is what we all live for. The beauty of playing sports at a high level, in front of thousands of fans, comes with a rush of adrenaline that can’t be matched. And that, precisely, is what helps bring out the 100 per cent that we pro athletes strive to achieve.

That beautiful feeling is perhaps what is most lacking in the life of a backup. I have a lot of passion for goalkeeping, regardless of earnings and despite being exposed more to criticism than praise.

Fortunately, I'm part of a team where everyone, and I mean everyone, feels important.

This comes from the coach to start, and then from all my teammates who form a great group of players. This environment fits perfectly with my mentality of looking at myself not as a backup goalie who occasionally plays few games, but rather a starter who plays just a bit.

This, to me, makes a huge difference on how I approach the games that I play and also how I perform in those games.

When you’re not playing, there’s always the danger of sitting on the bench and losing focus during a game. That’s the worst thing that can happen. As a child, I was taught to “steal with the eyes,” to try to learn as much as possible looking at the other goalkeepers and players.

I keep this teaching with me every game.

Even from the bench, I’m focused on the play and trying to learn. Also, with a group of players so close and united, I try to be as vocal as possible to support my teammates on the field.

Being Italian and the passion that I have for this game sometimes makes me “cross the line,” as you saw from my suspension for running onto the field to celebrate with my teammates in 2014.

I learned my lesson, but that’s just who I am.

And I don’t plan to change – whether I’m a “backup” or not. After all, the future is ahead of us, and in soccer: “everything can change in a second.”