The most popular player in their position, with 91.4% of the goalkeeper vote, Keiren Westwood is the first to be named in the Coventry City Team of the Decade.
Signed in the summer of 2008, Keiren Westwood was part of the second tranche of signings funded by the takeover of SISU – with Scott Dann and Danny Fox having arrived in the January prior. Westwood came in to a replace a slew of loan goalkeepers over the previous seasons, which had culminated in a young Kasper Schmeichel shipping four goals away in a crucial final day fixture at Charlton Athletic – somehow not resulting in relegation due to results elsewhere.
Westwood epitomised exactly what Ray Ranson and SISU were trying to achieve with the club. A young and hungry player from the lower leagues who could perform at Championship level and would, it was hoped, form part of a side that could ultimately challenge for a play-off place and a shot at the Premier League.
A final minute penalty save against Wolves in his first season is perhaps the most memorable individual highlight, but Keiren Westwood’s time at the club is best remembered for a series of agile reaction saves that consistently frustrated opponents and earned us points that we otherwise would not have gained.
That those kind of heroics are what Westwood is remembered for during his three seasons at the club where we finished in lower mid-table emblemises the failings of the early SISU-era. Westwood, along with the likes of Danny Fox, Scott Dann and Aron Gunnarsson should have formed the basis of a strong Championship side, instead the culture of mediocrity at the club was not lifted and they were picked off one-by-one without the same kind of inspiration behind the signings of their eventual replacements.
Despite the quality of the team in front of him getting continually worse during his time at the club, Keiren Westwood was the safety blanket that meant that some poor runs of form didn’t result in relegation. While relegation from the Championship was down to wider failings at the club, it is not exactly coincidental that it came in the season immediately after we lost a stand-out goalkeeper in Keiren Westwood.
It is only in recent years that the shadow of Keiren Westwood has started to fade over current Coventry City goalkeepers. Joe Murphy, a solid performer, took a long time to gain any affection from the fanbase, while Murphy’s replacements had very little bedding-in periods before they were compared unfavourably with their predecessors.
As we have seen over the past decade, a truly stand-out quality goalkeeper is a rare and valuable thing in football. Keiren Westwood demonstrated to us what goalkeeping excellence looked like and it feels like it will be some time until we once again see that kind of assurance between the sticks.