Bairns are top of the stops

Kasper Schmeichel is in the Danish squad for Euro 2012
Kasper Schmeichel is in the Danish squad for Euro 2012

It’s fair to say Jim Preston has an eye for a goalkeeper.

Falkirk’s coach will be watching with added interest when this summer’s European championships kick off tomorrow - because two of his former students are involved - but it could have been three.

Tim Krul and Kasper Schmeichel both tasted first-team football with Falkirk and have gone on to achieve call-ups to the Dutch and Danish squads represented in Poland and Ukraine.

But Preston will also be keeping an eye on Joe Hart - the keeper he almost brought to Falkirk in 2006.

“We went down the road to Manchester City looking for a goalkeeper,” Preston told The Falkirk Herald. “Brian Rice was assistant manager at the time and knew Stuart Pearce from Nottingham Forest who was there. We went down with a view of bringing Joe Hart on loan, but we came back up the road with Kasper instead - neither have done too badly have they?

“Then we got Tim in the following season - it’s no surprise to me that they’ve gone on to become international goalkeepers.

“You could see it at a young age they had quality - Kasper was the best shot stopper I’ve ever worked with,” added the former Celtic keeper coach.

Schmeichel came to Falkirk with his father’s reputation going before him. He’s now following his dad’s footsteps to the Euros with Denmark.

But though Peter was a mainstay between the sticks as Denmark pulled off an unlikely victory 20 years ago, Schmeichel junior is unlikely to taste that sort of success - or game-time.

“To be honest I don’t think either of them will get any games with the other goalkeepers ahead of them in the squads. But you can never account for suspensions or injuries and you never know, they could get their chance.

“I always felt with Tim, he had a lot of players ahead of him at Newcastle, but if he bided his time he would get his chance and that’s what has happenned. He’s gone from strength to strength and was one of the top three goalkeepers in England last season.

“This call-up will further his development too.”

It was Falkirk, however, who started their development into senior goalkeepers, handing Krul his second ever game and first run as a number one.

“We gave them both their first tastes of senior football. But you could see when Krul was here, he was one who would make it big. I’m not surprised to see them at the championships, it is terrific and also a good bit of recognition for the club to have interest there.

We have been very fortunate with goalkeepers and it just shows the quality we can attract when two progress to the European Championships.

“Falkirk gave them their start and I think their games up here provided a lot in terms of building their careers.”

After facing games against the Old Firm, Krul has gone on to meet more big clubs at the top end of the English Premier League in England, helping Newcastle to fifth place last term and earning the spot beside Maarten Stekelenburg and Michel Vorm for the Oranje.

“He was excellent,” admitted Jamie Barclay who trained with Krul. “I learned a lot from his kicking, and I have followed his career closely with Newcastle.

“It couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy either. Tim was a great guy. I’m delighted for him.”

So is Preston who believes Krul’s mentality had him destined for the top.

“He was very polite, and very level-headed. When we had him he was 19, but it was 19 going on 30. He was very mature and that has stood him in good stead.

“He lost four goals on his second game, against Celtic, and another seven the next week at Ibrox. But he still was excellent. Lesser goalkeepers would have let that get to them, but Tim didn’t and he kept working and improved.”

Those games are the building blocks to the careers of Kasper and Krul, and could propel them to international glory, with the Dutch in particular highly fancied to lift the trophy.

“We could give the players matches - and not just any matches. Their clubs knew they would be in the first team, in a competitive league playing at Ibrox and Celtic Park against the likes of Rangers and Celtic. That’s why we could go down to Manchester City and have a look at Joe Hart and Kasper Schemeichel coming through the ranks.

“It’s a big draw for a goalkeeper to be facing that level of opposition at such a young age. It’s why we had the opportunity to bring Joe Hart in too.

“It certainly helps their development, as you can see now with both Kasper and Tim in Poland now.

“So we have two, and could even have had three, former goalkeepers at the Euros and that is something the club can be really proud of.”