Diego?-A Penny for his Thoughts
Peruvian International Lima-born keeper, Diego Alonso Penny Valdez signed a three-year deal at Turf Moor for an undisclosed fee in June 2008 following a successful work permit appeal. The 24 year old signed from Coronel Bolognesi, a club in the Peru Primera Division.
The 6ft 5 stopper looked to be just what we were after following numerous fatal keeper errors by both Brian Jensen and Gabor Kiraly during the previous season. All Clarets fans thought he would be our automatic choice even though at the time we hadn`t even seen him play. This also appeared to be Coyle`s reasoning too with the announcement he would get the Number One jersey.
We also knew we wouldn`t want to keep all three keepers as we awaited news concerning the future of Gabor Kiraly and Brian Jensen. It was eventually revealed that Brian Jensen was the winner after being given a new contract, whilst poor Gabor would be told that any club interested in him could take him at the right price. Kiraly`s fate was sealed, relegated to third-choice goalkeeper; there was no chance he would feature unless there was an unlikely injury and/or suspension to both Jensen and Penny at the same time.
Kiraly though understood to be a high wage earner remained on the books with little interest it seemed from other clubs. It was only in January this year that there appeared to be some interest with a couple of Scottish clubs, Hibs and Hearts understood to be considering taking the man with the strange trouser habits north of the border. In the end, Kiraly would not be replacing his grey slacks with a kilt, signing instead for German side Bayer Leverkusen on loan until the end of the season. Wonder if he now wears lederhosen?
So one down and two to go! By the time Kiraly had finally left in January there was only one keeper who was automatic choice and that was Brian Jensen. Quite frankly he has been in awesome form all season and rarely made a mistake. Jensen has a habit of seeing off contenders for his throne between the sticks. Coyne, Pollitt and Kiraly have all tried but failed to knock the Beast off his pedestal and now the big question is will Penny be going the same way?
You have to feel sorry for Diego, a stranger to a new country he has had to contend with a huge cultural shock having to get familiar with a couple of new languages (Scottish & Lancastrian) and our peculiar customs like eating Hovis, wearing flat caps and walking Whippets on cobbled streets(according to the BBC anyway!). He might at least have been able to have had some comfort in this strange world had he been allowed to play between the sticks in the first team, at least that would be something he was familiar with.
Things though have not turned out that well for Penny in his first season and maybe the writing was on the wall after it took some time to sort out all the paperwork so he could meet up with his team mates in the pre-season tour of the US. Once he finally arrived and made a few appearances in our pre-season matches, it looked like we would be seeing more of him as the season got underway. He was given his full debut at the start of the season in our first match away to Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough. The bad news? We got thumped 4-1 although none of the goals were really the keeper`s fault! This was all rather harsh on Penny as he was dropped for the next match in the Carling Cup against Bury and was not number one choice in our next league match at home against Ipswich. In fact it didn`t get any better, and with only seven games left to play this season (maybe more if we reach play-offs), he still has not played again for the Clarets having bench-warmed a total of 50 games this season so far.
Perhaps he has just been unlucky in the sense that Jensen is in top form and has been all season. Also touch wood the Beast has not been sent-off or injured and therefore there has simply not been any opportunity for Penny to make any inroads.
More importantly what is Diego Penny thinking at the moment in his first season in the UK and what plans does Coyle have for his long-term future? I dont think anybody knows, except Diego and Owen and we can only speculate. It seems strange that you hardly hear anything about the situation from either Penny or the gaffer and it is difficult to know if the keeper has just accepted things or whether he is unhappy and unsettled. There were a few rumours flying about he was a little bit homesick and finding it difficult to settle but that`s just gossip. He will of course be keeping himself fit and is playing in the reserves but if he was called upon to play in say one of the next crucial seven games if Jensen was suspended or injured would he cope well or would he be a liability in the light of his lack of action in the first team?
I don`t think I have ever known a player in a season hardly talked about or mentioned as much as Penny and as Editor of Vital Burnley, I haven`t once had chance to put up his photo in an article this season, even Kiraly has had more mention. I thought I would therefore do an article on the forgotten man. I am afraid though the photograph is somewhat outdated now after noticing in the warm-up against Ipswich in midweek that Penny has had drastic hair surgery!
Oh well, I hope everything is OK with the big guy and that he does eventually get his chance to shine for the Clarets. His name is an Editor`s dream as you can see from the title of this article. I just hope I never have to write an article entitled 'Penny Dreadful` although I do hope I get chance eventually to use at least some of my literary talent (Cough! Splutter)
Good luck Diego!