Why this Ex-Goalkeeper's Pinky Should Make You Consider Finger Protection

May 21, 2024

Robert Green, a former English professional goalkeeper is famous for a few things. He’s known for his 2010 FIFA World Cup and UEFA Euro 2012 appearances, his mental resilience, and having a seriously crooked pinky. We’re not exaggerating that last point. 

He spent his 20 year career making absurd saves, but also, injuring, dislocating and fracturing his pinky finger over and over again. And that’s why it’s now permanently bent outward. 

His story illustrates why soccer goalie gloves with finger protection can benefit goalkeepers. This is especially true for younger players. 

Here’s a deeper look at why finger protection shouldn’t be an afterthought. 

How Rob Green (and Other Keepers) Get a Bent Fingers

For reference, we’ll put a picture of Rob Green’s finger below. And we want to warn you—what you’re about to see isn’t pretty. So brace yourself.

Here it is.


We weren’t kidding about how bent it was. 

The finger joint bulges out and even looks rotated, while the finger itself points diagonally. This deformity didn’t happen overnight—it was due to years of accumulating injuries. As Green says: “It slowly started to die and then it gave up essentially.”

And it appears that he didn’t notice it immediately either. 

'It was when I was diving to my right and it started sticking in the ground as I was diving I thought, "yeah perhaps I might need to get it seen to," Green said. 

To understand what happened to Rob, we need to examine what happens to fingers as they catch or block a fast-moving soccer ball. 

The Mechanisms and Physics of Finger Injuries in Goalkeepers 

When goalkeepers catch or block a high-speed ball, they often overstretch or even tear the ligaments and tendons that stabilze their finger joints. That results in the fingers bending too far back—a classic finger hyperextension. 

This motion is accentuated when the ball is producing significant force or strikes the finger at an awkward angle. Assuming it doesn’t happen too often, a hyperextended finger—as painful as it is—can heal on its own. But the more often it happens, the weaker these tissues can get. 

Now, imagine the force of an attacker sniping a 430 gram ball at a speed of 80 mph (129 km/h). We’ll spare you calculations, but that works out to 1538 Newtons of absolute force—the equivalent of low speed car crash at 20-25 mph. Human fingers can  sustain fractures, when confronted with an absolute force of 1485 Netwons. 

Of course, goalkeepers don’t have “average fingers”, thanks to regular conditioning and training. Nevertheless, blocking fast-travelling balls can take a toll on finger joints, especially for younger keepers who have growing bones.  

To sum this all up, imagine repeatedly falling on your fingers, or getting hyperextensions for years on end. If not given a chance to heal, they can sustain permanent deformities. Not all goalkeepers will end up with a bendy pinky like Rob Green, but it can happen. 

Where Does Soccer Goalie Glove With Finger Protection Fit in?

Here’s what Rob Green, his pinky and the research above should teach about finger protection—it’s not a bad idea to use it. We understand the gripes some of you have with finger protection

Yes, fingerspines can restrict mobility a bit, and make it harder for inexperienced keepers to get a good feel for the ball (and improve their ball control). And for some players, the addition of fingerspines can make gloves feel tight and slightly less comfortable. 

But finger protection has its place, especially for injury-prone keepers, those who are recovering from existing injuries, and young keepers in general. Fingerspines hold the the fingers in place, preventing them from bending too much when blocking or catching the ball. 

Even if you don’t use them every match, wearing them from time to time can reduce the risk of a finger injury, or the wear and tear that shotblocking can bring. The less often you get hyperextensions, sprains, and other finger injuries, the less likely you’ll get a pinky jutting sideways like Rob Green’s. 

Fingerspines don’t have to suck (or be stuck)

You don’t have to get two separate pairs of soccer goalie gloves—one with and one without finger protection. You can get gloves that have removable spines, allowing you to leave them in and remove them when necessary. 

Here at Storelli, we carry various lines of goalie gloves that have removable fingerspines, giving players the option to keep them in or out. They include the likes of:

More recently, we launched a line of kid-friendly gloves—the Challenger Youth series—which features kid-centric designs. They have fingerspines, which are ideal for protecting young hands from damage. However, the fingerspines in these gloves aren’t removable. 

Lessons Learned From a Finger that Turned

Fingerspines are easy to remove, but as for deformities? Not so much. The name of the game should be keeping a healthy finger straight, rather than trying to straigthen a bent finger. 

We want to reiterate the fact that injuries like Rob Green’s are exceedingly rare. But his example shows what can happen when the body succumbs to constant soccer injuries without the intervention of protective gear.  

For the record, Rob Green did wear a finger brace for the last 10 years of his career—a smart move in our opinion. But we wonder what would have happened if he started wearing fingerspines earlier. Would his finger stay straight? We can’t say for sure. But we can tell you to use example as a cautionary tale. 

Looking for soccer goalie gloves with finger protection to prevent injuries? Browse through our selection of goalie gloves to find your ideal fit!
Carrito de compra Close