InProfile: Johnny Saltmer

Saltmer NFU.JPGFor many footballers, being released at the end of the season can be one of the worst feelings as a professional. However, for young goalkeeper Johnny Saltmer, he’s relishing the challenge. Being released by boyhood club Hull City, at the end of the 2017/18 season, the goalkeeper has taken to the challenge to find a new club, at the highest possible level, following a run of terrible injuries.

The nineteen year old was forced to become a goalkeeper by the one person who made him get interested in sport, his older brother. “My interest came from my older brother,” Saltmer confirmed. “We used to have a garage side with concrete on and him and his mates needed someone to go in goal and with me being the youngest, I went in and just booted balls at me all day, so I’ve always been a goalkeeper from a young age.” When asked on whether he chose to be in goal or he was forced, Saltmer joked: “Probably forced, but over the ages it grew on me and I started getting better so I think I picked the right choice as I don’t think I could play outfield!”

With his interest growing, Saltmer started at amateur club West Hull & Willerby, who was coached at the time, by Hull City legend Nick Barmby. “Nick Barmby was the manager with a bloke called Andy Fox and by the time I was eight, I signed for Hull (City) and then you had to leave your Sunday League teams at Under 10’s and then I was with Hull until I was nineteen, so I’ve been there like for eleven years.”

Saltmer didn’t take it for granted though. After becoming a first-year scholar for the 2015/16 season, the academy reached the U21 Premier League Final for the first time in the club’s history. Even though the two-legged final ended in penalty heatbreak for City, by the hands of West Ham, Saltmer only took that experience on board with his rival Rory Watson. “It was unbelievable, because with just being on the bench, I think I was in my first year in YT, so I was sixteen/seventeen and to say that the experience can only do me the world of good and obviously having Rory Watson is a great keeper to learn off and is doing well at Scunthorpe.”JS Signing City(Saltmer signing professional terms with City in 2015. Photo: hulltigersacademy.org )

Following a loan deal to North Ferriby United for Watson, Saltmer battled then-new signing Will Mannion for the No.1 jersey and played a run of games before a cruel injury took it out of his hands. But what is interesting is the story of how the injury happened. “It was a bit of a funny story really,” explained Saltmer. “Playing for the Under 23’s, against Sheff Wednesday, and a ball came through and I’ve come out to make a save, like a block save, arms out and the balls hit my arm and the kid kicked my arm and I just felt something snap in my elbow and then the referee pulled it up and said it was a penalty! So there was a penalty kick given before I’d even have to make the save and it was horrible. I was in so much pain and I carried on, but I knew something was wrong. I then rested it for a week, as there was another game and thought it’d be ok, but went for a scan and found out I ruptured my UCL.”

What made the injury even more gutting for the goalkeeper was after performing well against Manchester City, in the Premier League Cup, and making regular appearances for the Under 23’s, it stopped Saltmer playing games for a long time and soon made him surplus to requirements. “It was all good for me. Then this happened (injury) and I got ruled out for initially six months. Then I came back, trained with the first team and then did it again, not as high scale, and it ruled me out for at least twelve months. Then after I got back, played a couple of games and then just didn’t feature in Hull’s plans anymore.”

After a lengthy injury spell, Saltmer needed games and was given the opportunity to play on loan, at the back end of last season, at Cleethorpes Town. “It was difficult, it’s a tough league. To be honest, I didn’t do too great, but I hadn’t played for twelve months so I needed a couple of games to get back into and didn’t really have it so it was a good experience though.”JS CT Shot(Saltmer in action for Cleethorpes Town. Photo: pitchero.com)

After his release from City, Saltmer has been involved with a number of trials, both in league and non-league football. “I went to Colchester, did really well there, but they wanted a 6ft 5in goalkeeper and obviously I’m not 6ft 5! Went to Solihull with Tim Flowers, so it was a great experience there, but they didn’t have the budget for a goalkeeper there and at the minute (of the interview) I’m training with Grimsby which is real good for me training with a professional team day in day out.”

Working with Grimsby Town will have its perks for Saltmer, learning under experienced stalwart James McKeown, who ahs made over 300 apperances for the Mariners. “Maca’s unbelievable since day one; since I came in and he’s made me feel welcome and it’s also good having a familiar face with Harry Cardwell. It’s great to see how a senior pro trains everyday so it can only do me the world of good.”

JS Ferriby(Saltmer in action for North Ferriby United. Photo: @MarkLeighton13)

Saltmer has also been getting match fitness under his belt, playing minutes at North Ferriby United, with his old City mate helping him out with that arrangement. “It happened from Charlie Dunkerely,” said Saltmer. “He messaged the gaffer (Chris Bolder) and Robbo (Paul Robson) got in touch with me and invited me down to training and play some games so I can’t thank them enough really.”

Now playing with a support strap, Saltmer has one goal in mind for the future, wherever he goes. “Hopefully just playing week in week out at a football league side, playing every day as the number one and that’d be great for me just playing football, because I love it and play as much as I can so that’d be perfect.”Johnny Saltmer Interview PhotoSaltmer spoke to me after the Ferriby v Hull City match. Listen to the full interview with Johnny below:

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