Manchester City have been blessed with a handful of good goalkeepers in the last decade, including the likes of Joe Hart and David James, before their new young star, Ederson.
Long before they graced Manchester, there was a name that was already woven into the hearts of Man City fans everywhere: Nicky Weaver.
Weaver joined Manchester City in 1997 at the age of 18, making his debut during the 1998/99 season. The young man instantly made himself at home, sliding into the starting role and proving himself early and often. The campaign proved to be a monumental year in Weaver’s career, setting the club record with 26 clean sheets over the course of the season.
The save, the wave
Manchester City’s impressive run in the Second Division that season saw them reach the play-off final, where they faced Gillingham. After heading to penalties, it was Nicky Weaver who would make the headlines after he saved the final penalty to earn Manchester City promotion.
As Guy Butters stepped up to take the decisive penalty for Gillingham, Weaver guessed the right way and Wembley Stadium erupted with delight.
The save saw Weaver’s club head to England’s First Division, but his celebration dominated the papers. An iconic scene for Man City fans everywhere: a quick look back to wave forward his on-rushing teammates, before sprinting around the Wembley pitch in pure delirium.
While said playoff-final would be the highlight of Weaver’s career, he did go on to help Man City to a second consecutive promotion the following season as they finished second in the First Division. Weaver again was handed the first-choice gloves for Premier League action, before the Manchester side were relegated after just one season in 2001.
City's new backup
After Peter Schmeichel’s arrival in 2002, Weaver saw his time at Manchester City spent as a backup before he made a triumphant return to the starting XI in 2006. After leaving the club in 2007, Weaver bounced around from club to club, including Charlton Athletic, Dundee United and Sheffield Wednesday before retiring in 2013.
While the latter days of Weaver’s career saw him as a backup option, his early days were filled with success as he helped Manchester City gain promotion three times in his decade-long stint at the club.
He now works at his boyhood club, Sheffield Wednesday, as the Academy’s Goalkeeping Coach and his playing days are long gone, but the memories he left City fans with won’t soon be forgotten.
The images of Weaver sprinting around the old Wembley stadium as his teammates, wearing their fluorescent green-striped shirts, chased him as they celebrated promotion will be driven into the memories of City fans everywhere.
As Pep Guardiola leads Manchester City on a conquest of England and potentially Europe, the club’s roots should be remembered. As Ederson quickly becomes a cult hero at the club at such a young age, fans should remember a young goalkeeper who helped shape the club’s history.
This article is part of a regular series, 'The A-Z of forgotten football heroes'. Check out the last entry, on a Celtic legend with two surnames, here.