In the world of football, goalkeepers are often the unsung heroes. While strikers and midfielders grab the headlines with their goals and assists, goalkeepers quietly go about their business, making crucial saves and keeping their teams in the game. In this blog, we will embark on the challenging task of ranking the 17 best goalkeepers of all time, taking into account their skill, longevity, and impact on the sport.
17. Keylor Navas
Costa Rican goalkeeper Keylor Navas has been an integral part of Real Madrid’s recent Champions League successes. His incredible reflexes and big-game performances make him a standout goalkeeper. Navas is also known for his humble and hardworking attitude.
16. Jan Oblak
Slovenian goalkeeper Jan Oblak is one of the best in the world today. His performances for Atletico Madrid have earned him a reputation as a reliable and consistent shot-stopper. Oblak’s excellent reflexes, positioning, and ability to make saves in one-on-one situations make him a standout goalkeeper.
15. Hugo Lloris
The French captain and Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper has consistently been one of the top goalkeepers in the world for over a decade. His shot-stopping and leadership have been crucial for club and country. Lloris is a complete goalkeeper with excellent shot-stopping, command of the area, and distribution skills.
14. José Luis Chilavert
Chilavert, from Paraguay, was not only an excellent shot-stopper but also known for his incredible free-kick prowess. He helped raise the profile of goalkeepers as playmakers. Chilavert was a controversial figure but was undoubtedly one of the most talented goalkeepers of his generation.
13. Jean-Marie Pfaff
Belgium’s Jean-Marie Pfaff was a key figure in the 1980s, representing clubs like Bayern Munich. He won the UEFA European Championship in 1980 and remains one of Belgium’s best. Pfaff was known for his athleticism, reflexes, and commanding presence in the penalty area.
12. Pat Jennings
The Northern Irish goalkeeper enjoyed a stellar career at clubs like Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal. His longevity and consistent performances earned him a place among the greats. Jennings was known for his shot-stopping ability, command of the area, and distribution skills.
11. Manuel Neuer
Manuel Neuer revolutionized the goalkeeper position with his “sweeper-keeper” style. He played a pivotal role in Germany’s 2014 World Cup victory and has been instrumental for Bayern Munich. Neuer is known for his excellent ball-playing skills and his ability to read the game.
10. Petr Čech
Čech made his mark at Chelsea and later Arsenal in the Premier League. His shot-stopping ability and consistency helped his teams achieve domestic and international success. Čech was also known for his bravery and willingness to come off his line to challenge attackers.
9. Sepp Maier
Maier was a crucial figure in Bayern Munich’s golden era in the 1970s. He won three consecutive European Cups and established himself as one of Germany’s all-time greats. Maier was known for his agility, reflexes, and commanding presence in the penalty area.
8. Edwin van der Sar
Van der Sar enjoyed an outstanding career at clubs like Ajax, Fulham, and Manchester United. He holds the record for the longest consecutive minutes without conceding a goal in the Premier League. Van der Sar was a calm and collected goalkeeper with excellent shot-stopping and distribution skills.
7. Peter Schmeichel
Danish goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel played a pivotal role in Manchester United’s success in the 1990s, imposing his presence and incredible shot-stopping ability to become one of the Premier League’s best. Schmeichel’s leadership qualities also made him a key figure in United’s dressing room.
6. Oliver Kahn
Oliver Kahn, nicknamed “The Titan,” was a fierce competitor known for his exceptional reflexes and leadership. He guided Germany to the 2002 World Cup final and had a successful club career with Bayern Munich. Kahn was a world-class shot-stopper and also organized his defense.
5. Iker Casillas
Iker Casillas is a product of the Real Madrid youth academy and became a club and international legend. He captained Spain to their first-ever World Cup victory in 2010 and won multiple Champions League titles with Real Madrid. Casillas possessed excellent shot-stopping, command of the area, and distribution skills, making him a complete goalkeeper.
4. Gordon Banks
Gordon Banks’ outstanding performances throughout his career, culminating in his incredible save against Pelé in the 1970 World Cup, cemented his legacy as a crucial part of England’s 1966 World Cup-winning team. His agility, reflexes, and cat-like reactions made him one of the most feared goalkeepers of his era.
3. Gianluigi Buffon
Gianluigi Buffon’s longevity and consistency in the top-tier of football make him a modern legend. The Italian goalkeeper has amassed numerous domestic titles and international caps throughout his illustrious career. Buffon is an excellent shot-stopper, aerialist, and distributor, as evidenced by his many successes on the field.
2. Dino Zoff
Dino Zoff’s remarkable career saw him lift the 1982 FIFA World Cup with Italy at the age of 40, making him the oldest World Cup-winning captain. Zoff was a master of positioning and had an uncanny ability to read the game. He was also a vocal leader and commanded his defense with authority.
1. Lev Yashin
Lev Yashin, nicknamed the “Black Spider,” revolutionized the goalkeeper position with his incredible shot-stopping abilities, commanding presence in the penalty area, and willingness to come out of his area to sweep up the ball and initiate attacks. The Soviet Union legend won the Ballon d’Or in 1963, a testament to his greatness.
Ranking the best goalkeepers of all time is a challenging task, as it involves comparing players from different eras and assessing their impact on the game. These 17 goalkeepers have left an indelible mark on the most popular sport with their remarkable skills, leadership qualities, and ability to make crucial saves in high-pressure situations. While the order of this list may be subject to debate, one thing is certain: these goalkeepers have all earned their place among the legends of football.