Who was the heaviest goalkeeper in the history of representative football?

According to Guinness World Records, the heaviest goalkeeper in the history of representative was William ‘Fatty’ Foulke, who was, quite literally, a ‘towering’ figure in English football during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Standing at a height of 6’2″, 6’3″ or 6’4″, depending on which estimate you believe, and weighing in anywhere between 15 and 26 st. during his playing days, Foulke was surprisingly athletic and agile for a man of his size.

Born in Dawley, Shropshire on April 12, 1874, Foulke signed for Sheffield United, with whom he would spend most of his playing days, as a 19-year-old. He helped the Blades to the Football League First Division title in the 1897/98 season and played in three FA Cup Finals at the Crystal Palace Stadium in South London; Sheffield United beat Derby County 4-1 in 1899, drew 1-1 with Tottenham Hotspur in 1901, but lost 3-1 in the replay at Burden Park, Bolton and drew 1-1 with Southampton in 1902, before winning 2-1 in the replay at the same venue. Foulke also played once for England, keeping a clean sheet in a leisurely 4-0 win over Wales at Bramall Lane, Sheffield in the Home International Championship on March 29, 1897.

In 1905, Foulke left Sheffield United and signed for the newly-founded Chelsea Football Club, in West London, for £50. He became the Blues’ captain but, while he retained much of his box office appeal, his goalkeeping ability was in decline and he left after just one season to join Bradford City, where he spent the rest of his career. Foulke died of cirrhosis on May 1, 1916, aged just 42.

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