West Ham’s Boffin is top of the class

Debut boy Ruud Boffin showed his potential with a good performance at Blackburn on Saturday.

SOME GOALKEEPERS on their debut play like shrinking violets. After 28 minutes at Ewood Park we realised just what West Ham new boy Ruud Boffin was made of.

The ball was played back to him and as Mame Biram Diouf approached, we all expected a thump upfield from the six foot five inch Belgian.

Not a bit of it, Boffin swayed and neatly dribbled round the Blackburn striker before calmly clearing – no sign of nerves there.

“I was quite nervous before the start of the game, but I have to say it was on Friday when I felt most nervous,” said the 23-year-old. “The first time I heard that I was going to play, I had to go to the toilet very quickly!”

Boffin’s inclusion came because Robert Green had not recovered from the minor operation he had earlier in the week, while Czech Republic goalkeeper Marek Stech, who had got the nod in the Carling Cup this season, was also on the treatment table.

“It is always nice to get out on to the pitch for the first time,” he said. “I have played in games before against big teams in Holland, but this was a great experience.”

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You would be forgiven for looking at the teamsheet and saying ‘Ruud who?’, but the Belgian had already played 61 games for MVV Maastricht in Holland as well as going through the PSV Eindhoven youth system.

It was certainly a tough start at Ewood Park for Boffin as Blackburn won a couple of free kicks on the edge of the box. However, it was a situation that was to work in his favour as he made an excellent save from Morten Gamst Pedersen.

“I had not even practised organising walls or anything like that with these players, but I think that whether it is in the Premier League or somewhere else, it is always difficult to organise things.

“But when you make a save like that early on, it does give you some confidence and I think that helped take me through the game.”

There was no dream clean sheet for the debut boy, but even with the Blackburn goal, Boffin was close to keeping it out.

“I think I was a little unlucky. I made a good save I thought from the first shot, but it went straight back to the player and I couldn’t quite reach it,” said Boffin, who also had to face a last-minute free kick from Pedersen.

Luckily the ball flew wide, but it seems the goalkeeper wasn’t too worried anyway: “I didn’t think it was going in,” he insisted. “Someone gave me a call that it was going wide, but I think I had it covered anyway.”

Boffin, who lives in Gidea Park with his girlfriend and three and a half month son, just 10 minutes from the training ground, is settling in well at West Ham, but he knows that he still has a lot to learn.

“I have already learned a lot from ‘Greeny’ and also from David Coles, the goalkeeper coach,” he said. “It is totally different training in England than it is training in Belgium or in Holland, so I can learn a lot.”

It seems that West Ham fans do not have to worry if Green is forced on to the sidelines in the future, but the likeable goalkeeper, with the look of Ian Walker about him, knows his place.

“I think Robert is a fantastic goalkeeper. I think he showed it every week, so I think when Robert is fit it is normal that he is going to play.”

He’s right of course, but the giant Belgian let nobody down on Saturday. Boffin is already at the top of the class.