The 10 Best Goalkeepers in Planet Football
A flawless strike from beyond midfield is often greatly lauded, but a stunning save is as show-stopping as any far-fetched goal and is instrumental to the success or failure of the game. The goalkeeper is regarded as the team’s last line of defense. His job is to keep the ball out of the net, which is no easy task. It requires minimal time response, the best reflexes, domination of the penalty area, and excellent ball distribution afterward. The goalies who’ve made our list are among the best of all time, as proven by their many accolades and the championships they’ve helped their teams achieve.
10. Gianluigi Buffon
This Italian all-time legend is the “Superman” to many of his fans. And although he still has many years down the line, his miraculous saves and superb reading of the game have already earned him a place amongst the greatest. This modern era net-minder started at Parma and at age 19, he became a replacement for Gianluca Pagliuca in Italy’s 1998 World Cup playoffs. He has since been named as Serie A Goalkeeper of the Year seven times. He was awarded as International Federation of Football History & Statistics (IFFHS) Best Goalkeeper a record of four times and is the first keeper to win the Golden Foot Award. He is also the only goalie to be named as UEFA Club Footballer of the Year and he came in second to Fabio Cannavaro in the 2006 Ballon d’Or . He has the most appearances in the history of the Italy national team and he played a vital role in their 2006 World Cup triumph in which he kept five clean sheets and 453-minute scoreless run. His last season with Juventus also saw the team’s record-breaking seventh straight Scudetto under his leadership.
9. Manuel Neuer
This undisputed German No. 1 is known for his unique sweeping and distribution skills, thus being described by many as sweeper-keeper. He often rushes off his line to greet opposing forwards with his abilities and distributes the ball from the back. He is the current captain for Bayern Munich and the Germany national team. He was the best goalkeeper at the 2010 World Cup and he won the IFFHS World’s Best Goalkeeper Award for four successive years between 2013 and 2016. He also finished third in the 2014 Ballon d’Or after a competent showing in the FIFA World Cup where Germany won. Despite recent injuries, the Bundesliga superstar has made the cut for Joachim Löw’s 27-man squad in the upcoming 2018 World Cup in Russia; a proof of just how the football scene reveres his shot-stopping skills.
8. Oliver Kahn
Oliver Rolf Kahn was “The Titan” in the post during his years for Bayern Munich and the Germany national team. His aggressive style and massive presence between the sticks spawned eight Bundesliga titles, the UEFA Cup, the Intercontinental Cup, and the 2001 Champions League win over Valencia. He has UEFA Best European Goalkeeper Awards, IFFHS World’s Best Goalkeeper awards, and German Footballer of the Year trophies under his belt. His strength, discipline, and leadership were clearly in display in his 780 club appearances and 86 international caps. In the 2002 World Cup, he won the Golden Ball Best Player of the Tournament award, the only goalkeeper in the history of football to ever attain such feat.
7. Iker Casillas
At a young age of 18, this prodigious talent broke into the Los Blancos’ starting lineup and has since shown dominance in his goalkeeping role. He was the youngest goalkeeper to play in and win the Champions League title in 2000. He is regarded as San Iker or Saint Iker for his incredible athleticism, wonderful reflexes, and jaw-dropping saves. He received IFFHS World’s Best Goalkeeper Award for five years (2008-2012) and is a regular for both club and country. He has won five La Liga championships, three Champions League crowns, four Supercopas, a Copa del Rey, a UEFA Super Cup, and the International Cup. He was named captain of Spain’s national team for their first national title in 44 years at the Euro 2008. He also led the team to win their first ever World Cup victory in 2010 and was the first Spaniard to lift the trophy. He was given the Golden Glove award for his international performance. He belongs to the elite group of players who have won every major club and championship titles. He placed second in both the IFFHS Best Goalkeeper of the past decade and quarter-century awards in 2010 behind Gianluigi Buffon. Casillas recently signed a new one-year deal with current team Porto after their Primeira Liga title win, stating that he always intended to stay.
6. Edwin van der Sar
Versatile keeper Edwin van der Sar is widely considered by critics and players as one of the best goalkeepers of all time. He had an impressive career with four clubs: Ajax, Juventus, Fulham, and Manchester United. He handled crosses from off his line, had positional sense, and often launched supreme long ball counter-attacks combined with accurate ball distribution. He was most competent with the ball at his feet. He set a world league record for most amount of time without conceding a goal at 1,311 minutes in his 2008-2009 season at United. He was named man of the match during the Champions League final in 2008 and he’s one of a few players to win the title for two different teams (Ajax, 1995. Manchester United, 2008). He retired as the most capped Dutch player with 130 appearances for Netherlands and he’s the oldest player ever to win the Premier League at 40 years old.
5. Sepp Maier
The “Cat from Anzing” was a certified winning machine during his years in Bayern Munich and the national team. His agility, flexibility, and outstanding reflexes made him an all-around world-class goalkeeper. The German native’s goalkeeping exploits have won his team three consecutive European Cups, four Bundesliga championships, four German Cups, and the 1974 FIFA World Cup. This one-club man is one of the most decorated players of his generation having won every single trophy there is to win in his career.
4. Gordon Banks
English pride Gordon Banks has been named as FIFA Goalkeeper of the Year six times in a row and is the only English goalkeeper ever to win a World Cup in 1966 where he just conceded two goals for the entire tournament. He is renowned for arguably the best save in football history where he managed to block Pele’s close range header during the 1970’s World Cup finals. Recalling that acrobatic stop, Banks said he has leaped over to reach as far as he could and he considers himself lucky that the ball bounced behind the goal. A car accident may have had cut his stellar career short but he was still voted in the IFFHS poll as the second best goalkeeper of the 20th century.
3. Dino Zoff
Dino’s style of play favors effectivity and efficiency over flamboyance but he was adept at delivering spectacular and decisive saves. He is known for his composure under pressure and proficient positioning and handling of the ball. He has achieved great success with Juventus and his country’s team, winning the 1968 European Championship on home soil, six Serie A titles, two Italian Cups, one UEFA Cup, and 112 Italy caps. He was the captain of Azzurri in their 1982 World Cup glory in Spain where he was also awarded as the best goalkeeper of the tournament. It was the crowning moment of his sensational career. He is the oldest player to win the World Cup at 40 and he is just the second captain and keeper to lift the World Cup trophy. To this day, he holds the record for most minutes in international football without conceding a goal at 1142 minutes. He was named by IFFHS as the third greatest goalkeeper of the 20th century.
2. Peter Schmeichel
This Great Dane has already been inducted to the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire and the English Football Hall of Fame for his legendary contributions to football. He was an intimidating presence in the penalty area and was regarded as a nightmare for attackers. His starfish saves and sweeping stint made for a remarkable defense and he had the ability to come out on top when faced with one on one situations with an opposing player. He also used long accurate throws to launch counter-attacks to incisive effect. He has won five league titles and was IFFHS World’s Best Goalkeeper in 1992 and 1993. He helped the Red Devils Manchester United and Sir Alex Ferguson to win the UEFA Champions League, the Premier League title, and the FA Cup all in the same season; an unprecedented treble. They’re the first side in English football to accomplish this major coup. He also inspired underdogs Denmark to win the 1992 European Championships and he is their most capped player with 128 games. He also scored 11 goals in his career, an unusual undertaking for a goalkeeper.
1. Lev Yashin
Russian Lev Ivanovich Yashin is widely recognized as the greatest goalkeeper in the history of football. He was dubbed as the “Black Panther” for his iconic all-black uniform and as the “Black Spider” due to his fast reflexes and marvelous ability to save shots as if he had six more arms. He changed the landscape of the game for goalkeepers around the world. He crushed the old notion that netkeepers should be rooted in line. He is known for racing off his goal to close down onrushing forwards and often punched the ball for short throw-outs. Beloved for his showmanship, the great Yashin wowed crowds with his athleticism. Gordon Banks once referred to him as the real super goalkeeper who had excellent positional play and a model for goalkeeping for the next years. Yashin played for Dynamo Moscow for his entire career and had 74 caps for USSR. He helped Russia to Olympic Gold and according to FIFA, he saved over 150 penalties more than any other goalkeeper. The Golden Glove award awarded to the best goalkeeper at the World Cup was previously known as the “Lev Yashin Award” from 1994 to 2006. He remains to be the only goalkeeper to win the Ballon d’Or and the only keeper to be named as European Footballer of the Year and the Best Footballer in the World. He is IFFHS Goalkeeper of the Century and he was also awarded the Order of Lenin. A bronze statue is erected at the Dynamo stadium in honor of this illustrious player.
Who will follow in the footsteps of these celebrated goalkeeping legends? Will we see another brilliant save that will be played over and over again in the years to come in the much anticipated World Cup? Eastbridge sports bet broker has match previews lined up for the competitions. Stay tuned!
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