A STRONG relationship between a goalkeeper and defender is crucial to keeping things tight at the back.

Angus Gunn and Jan Bednarek take that to the next level, though.

Bednarek’s dog, Candy, happens to be the playmate of Gunn’s French Bulldog, Elvis.

Whilst their owners take to the pitch on a Saturday afternoon, the animals can be spotted playing their own game in a Winchester park.

However, had he not been caught off guard by his girlfriend, there would be no Elvis in the Gunn household.

He explained: “I was playing PlayStation one day, and my girlfriend Phoebe said, ‘Shall we get a dog?’.

“I just said, ‘Yeah’, but I wasn’t really listening to her and then I was thinking, ‘Did I just say yes to that?’.

“We then went and got the dog on the same day. I didn’t have time to think about what I was doing.

“When I play PlayStation, she just tries to annoy me and then she said it, so we just went and got one straight away.

“They [Candy and Elvis] have met – they are like best friends.

“We haven’t been out together, but there is a woman who lives near us that takes them out and she always comes back and says those two have been causing mischief.

Daily Echo: Defender Jan Bednarek and his dog Candy. Photo: InstagramDefender Jan Bednarek and his dog Candy. Photo: Instagram

“It must be something about our dogs that makes her life a bit harder.”

Despite the obvious thought being that his dog is named after Elvis Presley, Gunn admitted that isn’t the case.

“We were watching Our Girl, the show with Michelle Keegan in, and I think the guy on there was called Elvis, so that was in our heads and it sounded pretty cool,” continued Gunn.

“Whenever I post on Instagram, I always tag Elvis Presley it.”

When Gunn agreed to join Saints last summer, it meant moving his life down south. Having been based in the north of England, the goalkeeper upped sticks with his girlfriend and Elvis.

And had it not been for those two being with him, Gunn revealed that it would have been a lot more difficult for him to settle in at the club.

Although, by the sounds of it, there isn’t much time for relaxing when Elvis is about.

Gunn added: “Moving away from up north to come down here with my girlfriend and Elvis meant I could take my mind off things.

“I just go home and relax, he annoys you a little bit but it’s like your family really.

“You love him like a kid, so it’s one of those that is preparing me for that sort of lifestyle. It’s definitely good to take your mind off football and relax.

“It’s a massive importance in my life.”

Upon joining Saints last year, it seemed as though Gunn would immediately replace Alex McCarthy as the club’s number one.

But it didn’t work out like that.

The 23-year-old was used by former boss Mark Hughes in the Carabao Cup and had to wait until January to be handed his Premier League debut by current chief Ralph Hasenhuttl.

Daily Echo: Angus Gunn during his Premier League debut against ChelseaAngus Gunn during his Premier League debut against Chelsea

Hasenhuttl made it clear when he came through the door that everyone is going to be given a fair crack at the whip and Gunn didn’t disappoint when called upon.

Saints’ keeper knew he had one chance to show what he was capable of, which happened to be against Chelsea.

He played out of his skin and went on to make a record number of saves and received all the plaudits from the goalless draw.

Despite this performance, Gunn had to wait until February to be given another opportunity in the Premier League – this time he had to keep out Arsenal’s dazzling strikers.

The former Norwich shot-stopper was helpless in a 2-0 defeat at the Emirates Stadium, but since that game, he has managed to keep hold of the number one jersey.

And even though it took longer than he would have liked, Gunn revealed he wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

“It didn’t start too well, as I wasn’t playing many games,” admitted Gunn.

“When I signed, I knew it was going to be a fight because I wasn’t assured of anything and I didn’t want it like that.

“I wanted to fight for my place and that’s what happened.

“When anyone leaves it’s disappointing, but it gives you a new chance to impress someone else and when the new manager came in, that’s what I tried to do.

Daily Echo: Saints boss Ralph HasenhuttlSaints boss Ralph Hasenhuttl

“I felt I did pretty well in the cup games when I got the chance, but I knew I was going to have to be patient.

“I knew that when I got my chance, I had to take it.  Looking back now, I think I did as well as I possibly could.

“His [Hasenhuttl’s] philosophy of football means that we press very high and that we are always on the front foot and if the goalkeeper isn’t a part of that it makes it more difficult for the defenders in front.

“That’s a part of my game and part of my game that he likes, so I’m just trying to improve on that.”

Although goalkeeping is at the centre of Gunn’s family, with his dad Bryan being a former Norwich and Scotland shot-stopper, the Saints player’s career didn’t start in between the sticks.

Instead of preventing teams from scoring, the 23-year-old wanted to be the one finding the back of the net.

This led to him spending five years as a midfielder, only for genetics to play its part and see him develop into a keeper.

Despite the fact his dad was playing professionally in that position, Gunn explained that he had nothing to do with him following in his footsteps.

He revealed: “When I was younger, from about three to eight, I was a midfielder trying to have a bit of fun and score goals.

“I sort of gradually went back to be a goalkeeper, which was pretty natural for me, it was a gradual change.

“Because I was so young, I didn’t really think about my dad playing too deeply.

Daily Echo: Bryan Gunn playing for Norwich against Manchester United in 1994Bryan Gunn playing for Norwich against Manchester United in 1994

“As I grew up in the academy as a goalkeeper at Norwich, it was something that people were talking about.

“I didn’t really look too much into that because I just wanted to focus on myself and what I wanted to do in the game and how I wanted to improve.

“I hear and see stuff that people say, but I try to ignore it.”

Gunn also revealed that his father only offers him support and not criticism after having a tough time in goal.

“He comes to all the games, but he doesn’t critique me or get involved too much,” the Saints man continued.

“He is there as my dad and not as an ex-pro or anything like that. He is there to support me as a son which is good because he doesn’t put me under any pressure or anything. He keeps it casual.”

Gunn was recently named in the England-Under21s squad for this month’s Euro 2019 tournament.

He was a member of the side that went to the competition in 2017 but didn’t manage to make an appearance during the competition.

With the tournament getting underway next week, Gunn’s England U21s will have to navigate their way out of a group that includes France, Croatia and Romania.

Although that’s at the forefront of his mind, there is the small matter of the Premier League fixtures being announced tomorrow at 9am.

And there is one team the Saints goalkeeper is keen to face.

Gunn’s former side, Norwich, sealed promotion into the top-flight which, he admits, will be the first game he looks out for when the matches are released.

Norwich boss Daniel Farke guided the Canaries to the top of the Championship on a limited budget.

Daily Echo: Norwich City boss Daniel FarkeNorwich City boss Daniel Farke

They pipped Sheffield United to first place by just five points, which is an achievement Gunn hailed.

“Their season has been unbelievable, and I think the manager has done great,” said Gunn.

“They haven’t even bought it [promotion] because they’ve spent under £5 million on the team, so it’s unbelievable.

“It will be a great boost for them and it will be interesting to go back there and it’s going to be an experience I will enjoy.

“You obviously look at the big games and when you go away to the big teams, but I’ll definitely be looking for that game.

“Going home and seeing some familiar faces will be a really nice feeling.”