How Rob Sanchez progressed from Forest Green and Rochdale to Luis Enrique's Spain
A deserved first call up to the Spain national team highlights the immense ability and potential of Brighton & Hove Albion goalkeeper, Robert Sanchez.
The 23-year-old dethroned Maty Ryan as Albion’s number one this season and has repaid the faith shown in him by Graham Potter after a string of impressive performances.
After a short spell at Levante in Spain, Sanchez joined the Seagulls’s academy aged 15 and flourished in the academy that has produced first-team regulars such as Lewis Dunk and Solly March.
The 6ft 6in goalkeeper signed his first professional contract with the club in 2015, before penning a fresh three-year contract in April 2018. In truth, he was relatively unknown to most before Potter made one of the biggest decisions of his Albion tenure in dropping the Australia international who was an ever-present in the side.
With Ryan featuring heavily under Chris Hughton and the former Swansea City boss, Sanchez had big gloves to fill to some extent. And fill them he has, as Albion are beginning to pick up the points their performances throughout the entirety of the campaign have warranted.
Despite still being young in goalkeeping terms, it’s been a long road to international recognition for Sanchez. Across the start of the 2018/19 campaign, he was loaned out to League Two side Forest Green Rovers before being recalled in January 2019 to provide cover for the Asia cup bound Ryan.
Prior to his premature end at the Green, he made 17 appearances; all of which coming in the league. A second consecutive season on loan in the EFL beckoned for him at the start of the 2019/20 campaign as he joined Rochdale in League One.
Once again, he was the first choice goalkeeper for Dale and made 29 appearances in all competitions while keeping nine clean sheets and performing well during the 1-1 EFL Cup draw with Manchester United at Old Trafford.
For any professional footballer being called up to their respective national team is the pinnacle of their careers. By being called up by former Barcelona manager Luis Enrique, it proves his decision to leave his native country as a teenager for a completely different culture as the right one.
Sanchez made his professional debut for the club in the narrow 2-1 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur. Since then, he has made a further 16 league appearances for Potter’s side and registered six clean sheets including back-to-back shut outs in two 1-0 victories against Spurs and Liverpool, respectively.
In that time he has also only conceded 17 goals, which of course, averages his goal conceded per-game to just one. What has also impressed is his save percentage of shots on target which reads at 71 per cent
The announcement also has huge benefits for the club, too. It provides further evidence that Albion possesses one of the best academy systems in the country while exposing the club on the international stage.
For Sanchez, it’s a chance to prove himself amongst his country’s best while adding further experience and skills to his already impressive armoury.