Everton tried to sign me but I was already on their books – now I’m making my way in the EFL in a different position

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MARK ROBINS will have to choose between two excellent goalkeepers when he selects his team to face Wolves in the FA Cup.

Bradley Collins has been handed the gloves for the Sky Blues’ last two Championship victories over Watford and Rotherham.

Jake Bidwell offers Coventry options in more than one position

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Jake Bidwell offers Coventry options in more than one positionCredit: Rex

However, Ben Wilson has been boss Robins’ go-to goalie in the FA Cup so far this season, starring in Coventry’s victories over Oxford, Sheffield Wednesday and Maidstone.

Yet there is one other option Robins could turn to in an emergency.

His experienced left-back Jake Bidwell was more than useful between the sticks as a kid.

In fact, it was touch-and-go whether he would pursue a career as a No 1 or as a No 3 — after Everton offered him a contract in BOTH positions!

The 30-year-old Sky Blues defender said: “I was an Everton goalkeeper from the age of 11 to 13.

“It’s a bit of a strange story to be honest. I had always played outfield as a kid. But my Sunday League goalkeeper had family in Australia and he went to visit them for six weeks.

“That left us without a goalkeeper so I volunteered and took over in goal for six weeks.

“I must have done all right because during that time I was scouted by Everton — then fluked the trial!

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“I ended up being at Goodison Park for two years but I wasn’t enjoying it after a while.

“I suppose I never really felt goalkeeper was my position.”

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Everton told Southport-born Bidwell to take a break from goalkeeping to revive his interest in the position.

He added: “They told me to go away for six months and see how I felt.

“They wanted me to take a break and then come back.

“So, in those six months I went back to playing outfield and I got picked for my regional team and then an Everton scout saw me play.

“He didn’t know who I was so he invited me in for a trial match at Anfield and the rest is history.

“Everton liked what they saw of me as a left-back and the scout asked me if I’d like to sign for the Toffees.

“I told them he didn’t need to bother with the forms — because I was already on their books as their Academy goalie!”

It is a well known football quirk that most goalkeepers love to play outfield whenever they get the chance in training. So does the former Brentford, QPR and Swansea full-back ever pester Robins and ask to go between the sticks in training?

He confessed: “Definitely not! I was a big kid to be fair but I haven’t grown since I was about 13 — my goalkeeping days are long gone!

“To be fair we’ve got three top  keepers at the club so I won’t be making a comeback anytime soon.”

That means Bidwell will be in his usual left-back berth at Molineux as Coventry try to make it to Wembley for the semi-finals.

He says he cannot believe some  people see the Midlands side’s FA Cup run as a distraction from their main goal of qualifying for the Championship play-offs.

He said: “To get to Wembley would be massive. Personally, I love the FA Cup and the chance to play against different sides.

“We’ve played Oxford and Maidstone who were below us in the pyramid — now we face Wolves.

“It’s great to experience something different and this run has been great for the fans.

“When you’re successful the fixtures can pile up but we’re all relishing the challenge. It’s a big game, a Midlands derby, and it will be live on TV — it’s going to be a great occasion.

“This is the furthest I’ve been in 13 years of trying.

“I love playing in the FA Cup and I can’t understand why anyone else wouldn’t.”

Bidwell was a promising goalkeeper as a youngster

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Bidwell was a promising goalkeeper as a youngsterCredit: Getty
Bidwell was already on Everton's books as a goalkeeper when they tried to sign him as a full-back

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Bidwell was already on Everton’s books as a goalkeeper when they tried to sign him as a full-backCredit: Rex



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Everton tried to sign me but I was already on their books – now I’m making my way in the EFL in a different position

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