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10 Best Goalkeepers of All Time

Updated: Jun 25

10 Best Goalkeepers of All Time
10 Best Goalkeepers of All Time

While many debate who is the best goalkeeper of all time, it boils down to achievements, consistency, longevity, and impact on the game. The role of a goalkeeper is unique and demanding, requiring exceptional mental strength. Unlike outfield players, goalkeepers are often heavily criticised for even a single mistake and sometimes banished from the spotlight.

Yet, they are the last line of defence and the unsung heroes, who secure victories with crucial saves. Over the decades, many goalkeepers have stood out for atypical skills, leadership, and match-winning performances. Here, we explore the careers of the 10 best goalkeepers of all-time.

Below Are The Best Soccer Goalkeepers of All Time

10. Gordon Banks

Kicking off our list in the tenth spot is Gordon Banks. Banks revered for his exceptional goalkeeping skills, cemented his place in football history with his unbelievable saves and agile prowess. Despite facing adversity later in his career, including losing vision in one eye, Banks's legacy as an iconic figure in English football remains undisputed.

His heroic performances, notably in the 1966 World Cup and the iconic save against Pelé in 1970, continue to inspire generations of goalkeepers and fans alike, solidifying his status as one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time.

9. Edwin van der Sar

Edwin van der Sar enjoyed a long and successful career, playing for top clubs like Ajax, Juventus, Fulham, and Manchester United. The Dutch goalkeeper was known for his composure, excellent shot-stopping abilities, and distribution skills.

Van der Sar won multiple league titles and Champions League trophies, most notably with Man United. Sir Alex Ferguson, the former United manager, regarded Van der Sar as the best goalkeeper to play for the club since Peter Schmeichel. His ability to perform at the highest level well into his late 30s and early 40s was a testament to his professionalism and dedication.

8. Peter Schmeichel

Peter Schmeichel is often regarded as one of the best goalkeepers of all time, especially in Premier League history. The Danish shot-stopper was a key player for Manchester United during the 1990s, helping the team secure five Premier League titles, three FA Cups, and the UEFA Champions League in 1999. Schmeichel was known for his imposing presence, astounding instincts, and leadership on the field. He also played a crucial role in Denmark's surprise victory at the 1992 European Championship.

7. Oliver Kahn

Starting as a field player at age six before becoming a goalkeeper, Oliver Kahn's fiery temperament and extraordinary goalkeeping finesse made him one of the most formidable goalkeepers of his time. Kahn aka 'The Titan' spent most of his career at Bayern Munich, securing eight Bundesliga titles, six DFB-Pokals, the UEFA Cup in 1996, the UEFA Champions League, and the Intercontinental Cup in 2001.

He was also a key player for the German national team, leading them to the 2002 World Cup final and winning the Golden Ball as the tournament's best player. He registered 86 caps for Germany, including 49 as captain. Kahn's leadership, shot-stopping abilities, and mental toughness were top-notch.

6. Sepp Maier

Sepp Maier, affectionately known as "Die Katze von Anzing" ("the cat from Anzing"), is a legendary figure in the world of goalkeeping and one of the best soccer goalkeepers of all time in German football history. Spending his professional career at Bayern Munich, Maier made a remarkable 709 appearances over seventeen seasons, a record that still stands.

His agility, reflexes, and consistency helped Bayern Munich secure four Bundesliga titles, three German cups, and three consecutive European Cups in the 1970s.

Maier earned 95 caps for West Germany on the international stage, playing a crucial role in their 1972 European Championship victory and 1974 World Cup triumph. His humour and distinctive playing style endeared him to fans, and his post-playing career saw him mentor future greats like Oliver Kahn.

5. Dino Zoff

Dino Zoff's career longevity and consistency set him apart as one of the best soccer goalkeepers of all time. He is the oldest player to win a World Cup, captaining Italy to victory in 1982 at age 40. Zoff spent much of his club career at Juventus, winning six Serie A titles and a UEFA Cup. Known for his calm demeanour, peculiar shot-stopping, and leadership qualities, Zoff's influence in and out of the sport was immense.

4. Iker Casillas

Iker Casillas, renowned for his incredible swiftness and consistent performances, solidifies his place as our fourth-best goalkeeper of all time. Beginning his career at Real Madrid, he became the youngest goalkeeper to play in a Champions League final at 19, winning multiple La Liga and Champions League titles. His heroics in the 2002 Champions League final did not go unnoticed.

San Iker was also instrumental in Spain's golden era, winning two European Championships (2008, and 2012) and the 2010 World Cup, where he also won the Golden Glove was a testament to his excellence. Casillas' career includes over 100 international clean sheets, five IFFHS Best Goalkeeper awards, and significant contributions to Real Madrid and Porto. With over 1000 professional appearances, his impact on football is profound, making him one of the best goalkeepers in history.

3. Gianluigi Buffon

Gianluigi Buffon's career was nothing short of extraordinary. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest goalkeepers in football history due to his longevity, consistency, and outstanding performances. Buffon spent most of his career at Juventus, winning numerous Serie A titles and reaching the Champions League final multiple times. He was also Italy's number-one goalkeeper during their 2006 World Cup triumph. Buffon's athleticism, leadership, and shot-stopping abilities have set a high standard for future generations.

2. Manuel Neuer

Manuel Neuer revolutionised the role of the modern goalkeeper with his "sweeper-keeper" style of play. He has been a pivotal figure for Bayern Munich and the German national team. Neuer's ability to play with his feet, exceptional reflexes, and commanding presence in the box has made him one of the most influential goalkeepers of his generation. He played a crucial role in Germany's 2014 World Cup victory and has won eleven Bundesliga titles, a Champions League medal, and several accolades with Bayern Munich.

Neuer has been awarded the Best European Goalkeeper and the IFFHS World's Best Goalkeeper five times each, sharing the latter honour with Gianluigi Buffon and Iker Casillas. He holds numerous Bundesliga records, including the most career clean sheets (over 222) and the most clean sheets in a single season (21 in 2015–16).

1. Lev Yashin

At the zenith of our list is Lev Yashin, also known as the "Black Spider," regarded as the greatest goalkeeper of all time. Born in Moscow, Yashin spent his entire career at Dynamo Moscow from 1950 to 1970. He remains the only goalkeeper to have won the Ballon d'Or, achieving this honour in 1963.

Yashin was renowned for his exceptional agility, net-minding excellence, and command of the penalty area. He earned 78 caps for the Soviet Union and played in three World Cups, leaving a lasting mark on the game. Yashin saved over 150 penalty kicks in his professional career, more than any other goalkeeper in history. Selected as the goalkeeper for the 2002 FIFA World Cup Dream Team, he cemented his legacy as the best goalkeeper in the world of all time.

While the ten goalkeepers left their prints in football history, notable figures such as Pat Jennings, Lev Ivanovich, José Luis Chilavert, Gianluca Pagliuca, and Petr Cech, while distinguished in their own right, were regrettably not included our the list above of the 10 greatest goalkeepers in history.

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