The footballing world is mainly focused on the strikers or who scores the winning goal for their teams. But people forget that behind every successful team there is a man between the sticks, who defends and saves all opponent’s shots.
Being a Goalkeeper in arguably the most underrated position in football, they don’t get praises for their hard efforts, they are often overlooked in the team.
It is one of the toughest jobs on the field that requires concentration, composure, stretch and the ability to pull off saves at any given moment in a game. Goalkeepers need to be alert all the time during game and their split-second mistakes can turn the game in other teams’ favor. So today, we have a list of the ten most successful goalkeepers of all time.
Edwin van der Sar (Netherlands):
Edwin van der Sar was born on 29 October 1970. He is a Dutch football executive and former professional player who is currently the chief executive of AFC Ajax. He was one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League history.
During his time at AFC Ajax, Sar was as a star professional football player for the Dutch side. He was one of the first group members of Ajax players to win the UEFA Champions League in 1995. Van der Sar was a the part of the club’s first golden generation.
In 1999, Van der Sar left Ajax and joined Juventus where he spent two and won, the 1999 UEFA Intertoto Cup. He left Juventus in 2001, for a move to England where he joined Premier League club Fulham Fc where he spent four seasons.
His performance caught the eye of then Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson. In 2005 Van der Sar signed for Manchester United for a reported fee of 2 million. He helped Manchester United in winning their ninth Premier League title and his first. Van der Sar was a force to reckon with between the two posts, during his time he helped the Red Devils to win four Premier League titles and the UEFA Champions League in 2008. He Premier League Golden Glove in the 2008–09.
Former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson even considers him to be the best goalkeeper to have played for the club since Peter Schmeichel.
Throughout his exceptional footballing career Edwin Van der Sar won 26 major titles with Ajax and Manchester United including four Dutch league titles, three Dutch super cup, one UEFA Cup and league cup three times. Van der Sar also won the Premier League four times and the UEFA champions League with Manchester United, with the FIFA club World Cup and UEFA SuperCup. He’s considered as one of the most successful goalkeepers of al time.
Van der Sar also holds the record by not allowing any goals in the 2008-09 league season for 1,311 minutes. Sar is also the record for the oldest player to ever win the Premier League, he achieved the feat in 2011 at the age of 40 years and 205 days.
Petr Cech (Czech Republic):
Petr Cech was born on 20 May 1982. He is a Czech former professional footballer who played as a goalkeeper.
Cech started his professional career at Chmel Blsany in 1999, where he played for two seasons before moving to Sparta Prague in 2001, where he spent only one season making 27 appearances.
In 2002, Cech join Ligue 1 side Rennes for 5.5 millions. Cech started performing well which earned him a move to Premier League club Chelsea FC for a then club-record transfer for a goalkeeper a for tranfer fee of 7 millions in 2004.
Petr Cech spent 11 years with the Blues and registered 494 senior appearances, making him the club’s highest overseas appearance maker, and sixth of all-time. During his time he helped Chelsea in winning four Premier League titles, four FA Cups, one UEFA Champions league and UEFA Europa league title as well. Cech also holds Chelsea’s all time record for the most clean sheets, with 228. Due to his impressive goalkeeping performances and skills, Petr Cech is one of the most successful goalkeepers of all time.
Cech departed from Chelsea and joined city rivals Arsenal in 2015 for 10 million, where he won another FA Cup before retiring in 2019. Petr Cech is considered as one the greatest goalkeeper of all time.
Petr Cech won the Premier League Golden Glove four times in 2004, 2009, 2013, and 2015. He was also inducted in the PFA Team of the Year in 2004–05 and 2013–14 Premier League.
Petr Cech won Czech Footballer of the Year nine times. He won the Czech Republic Golden Ball award twelve times from 2005 to 2018.
He was also named IFFHS World’s Best Goalkeeper in 2005 and the Best European Goalkeeper four times. Cech won the Premier League Player of the Month award in March 2007. He won the Chelsea Player of the Year in 2010-11. Cech was also included in UEFA Team of the Year in 2005.
Gordon Banks (England):
Gordon Banks was born on 30 December 1937. He was an former English professional footballer who played as a goalkeeper. He played in England’s every match in the 1966 World Cup which they won. Banks remains the only English goalkeeper to win the World Cup.
Gordon Banks started his professional career with Chesterfield in March 1953. He played for the youth team in the 1956 FA Youth Cup final. He made his first team debut in November 1958, and was sold to Leicester City for $7,000 in July 1959. He played in four cup finals for the club, winning the League Cup in 1964 and finishing on as finalists in 1965. Despite this success, and his FIFA World Cup win in 1966.
Banks was dropped by Leicester and eventually was sold to Stoke City for 50,000 in April 1967. After, joining Stoke City from Leicester Banks made a good relationship with the manager Tony Weddington and the two quickly bonded well. During this time, Banks moved to Madeley, Staffordshire. He replaced John Farmer as the club’s number one goalkeeper. Throughout his reign at Stoke City, Banks remained a reliable pillar for the club.
In 1972, Banks had an major accident while driving and mostly lost his sight of seeing and sadly retired from world football.
Banks won the FIFA Goalkeeper of the Year six consecutive times from 1966 to 1971. He was also inducted in the FIFA World Cup All-Star Team 1966. The English Goalkeeper earned his place in the English Football Hall of Fame in 2002. Gordon Banks also won the FWA Footballer of the Year in 1976.
Peter Schmeichel (Denmark):
Peter Bolesław Schmeichel was born 18 November 1963, he is a Danish former professional footballer who played as a goalkeeper.
Schmeichel started his professional career with a Danish club Gladsaxe-Hero in 1981. Later he played for many other clubs like Hvidovre, Brøndby, and Sporting CP. But his major breakthrough came with Manchester United when they signed him in 1991. It was Sir Alex Ferguson who saw something special in the Danish goalkeeper and signed him for 505,000, It was known the “bargain of the century” in 2000s.
With Manchester United Schmeichel won five Premier League titles In the 1992–93 season, Schmeichel kept 22 clean sheets and helped United win the Premier League championship, for the first time in 26 years. In 1995, Manchester United again won the Premier League title and the FA Cup.
Schmeichel ended his Manchester United career on a highest peak, when he won the Treble, winning the Premier League title, FA Cup and UEFA Champions League in 1999. He was considered as one of the Premier League’s best goalkeepers.
Moreover, Schmeichel also won the UEFA Euro 1992 with Denmark. He was known for his big physique and built with a staggering height of 6’3 inches. Additionally, Peter Schmeichel is the most capped player for the Denmark national team with a total of 129 appearances from 1987 to 2001.
During his reign with Manchester United Schmeichel won the Goalkeeper of the Year three times. He also won the IFFHS World’s Best Goalkeeper 1992, 1993
He was included in the PFA Team of the Year in the 1992–93 Premier Leagu. He became Premier League Player of the Season in 1995–96. Schmeichel also won the UEFA Club Goalkeeper of the Year 1997–98. He was inducted in the English Football Hall of Fame 2003. Recently, Schmeichel was inducted in the Premier League Hall of Fame in 2022.
Manuel Neuer (Germany):
Manuel Peter Neuer known as Manuel Neuer born on 27 March 1986, he’s a German professional footballer who plays as a goalkeeper and captains both Bundesliga club Bayern Munich and the Germany national team. He is regarded as one of the greatest goalkeepers in the football history.
Manuel Neuer, started his career at Schalke 04 where he won the DFB-Pokal and DFL-Ligapokal. The German footballer is known as “sweeper keeper” for his unorthodox goalkeeping style.
In 2011, He signed for Bayern Munich where he has enjoyed quite a success over the past decade. With Bayern Munich, Neuer won 27 major titlese, including two UEFA Champions League. He also won ten consecutive Bundesliga titles, the DFB Pokal German cup six times, DFL Super Cup six times and two FIFA Club World Cup.
With the German football national team, Manuel Neuer won the 2014 World Cup.
The 35-year-old is one of the greatest goalkeepers in the world and he was the best German footballer in the 2010.
Neuer won the IFFHS World’s Best Goalkeeper five times. He also won the IFFHS World’s Best Goalkeeper of the Decade 2011–2020. Manuel Neuer won the Best European Goalkeeper five times.
Dino Zoff (Italy):
Dino Zoff was born on 28 February 1942, he is an Italian former professional footballer who played as a goalkeeper. He is the oldest ever winner of the World Cup, he earned the feat as being the captain of the Italian national team in 1982, at the age of 40 year and 4 months. Dino also won the best goalkeeper of the tournament award.
Dino Zoff was known as one of the most successful goalkeepers of all time. He had an impressive career, he delivered some of the most phenomenal performances in several ocassions in the most popular football leagues around the world.
Dino Zoff won the Serie A title six times with Juventus along with two Italian Cups and the UEFA Cup in 1976–77.
With the Italian National team he won the FIFA World Cup in 1982 and the UEFA European Championship in 1968.
Zoff was known as one of th greatest goalkeepers of all time. Being named the third greatest goalkeeper of the 20th century by the IFFHS only behind Lev Yashin and Gordon Banks. He holds the record for the longest playing time without allowing any goal in international tournaments for 1,142 minutes, between 1972 and 1974. The Italian Football Federation selected Zoff as the best player of the last 50 years.
Oliver Kahn (Germany):
Oliver Rolf Kahn was born in 15 June 1969. He is a German football executive and former professional player who played as a goalkeeper. He’s reagarded as one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time.
Kahn started his career in the Karlsruher SC Junior team in 1975. Twelve years later, Kahn made his debut match in the professional squad. In 1994, he joined Bayern Munich for a fee of 4.6 million, where he played until the end of his career till 2008. with eight titles in Bundesliga, six German Cups, six League cups, one UEFA Cup and one UEFA Champions League title.
His became the German Footballer of the Year twice due to his skills and determination. At the 2002 FIFA World Cup, Kahn became the only goalkeeper in the tournament’s history to win the Golden Ball. He won the IFFHS Best Goalkeeper three times, and the Best Bundesliga Goalkeeper seven times. Kahn is one of Germany’s most acclaimed footballers.
Iker Casillas (Spain):
Iker Casillas Fernández was born on 20 May 1981. He is a former Spanish professional footballer who played as a goalkeeper. He was popularly known as “Saint Iker” for his spectacular saves in the goal. Casillas is widely considered to be one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time.
Casillas started his career from the Read Madrid academy, Castilla. He spent more than 25 years at Real Madrid, during which Casillas played over 1000 professional matches in his career. He was also captain of Los Blancos, and guided his team in winning many major titles including the UEFA champions League in 2014.
During his time with Real Madrid he won 18 major titles including five La Liga titles and the Copa del Rey twice, along with Supercopa de España four times. He won three UEFA Champions Leagues and the UEFA Super Cup twice. Casillas also wn the FIFA Club World Cup in 2014. He also won the Intercontinental Cup in 1998 and 2002.
Soon Casillas became Spain’s first choice goalkeeper, and with the Spanish National football team Casillas won the 2010 FIFA World Cup. He holds the record for the most number of clean sheets in a world cup tournament for which he won the prestigious Yasin Award. He was named the best goalkeeper of the 2010 World Cup. Iker featured in the European Championships with Spain, winning it in 2008 and 2012.
Casillas won the La Liga Zamora Trophy in 2007–08 season for his extraordinary saves and keeping the most cleansheets. He also won the La Liga Best Goalkeeper in 2009 and 2012. Iker Casillas won the IFFHS World’s Best Goalkeeper award five times.
Lev Yashin (Soviet Union):
Lev Ivanovich Yashin Rus known as Lev Yashin was born on 22 October 1929. He was nicknamed as the Black Panther, he was a Soviet professional footballer and was regarded as the greatest goalkeeper in the history of the sport. He was known for his athleticism, positioning, bravery, imposing presence in goal, and acrobatic reflexes.
Yashin was one of the tallest goalkeepers of all time. His command over the entire defense earned Yashin his reputation for revolutionizing the position.
Throughout his career, he kept over 270 clean sheets and won two gold medals at the 1956 and 1960 Olympic football tournaments. Yashin remains the only goalkeeper to receive the Ballon d’Or, he received the award in 1963.
Yashin appeared in four World Cup tournaments from 1958 to 1970, and in 2002 he was chosen in the FIFA Dream Team of the history of World Cups. Yashin holds the of saving the most penalty kicks in professional football. There’s no doubt the he is one of the most successful goalkeepers of all time.
Lev Yashin won the European Goalkeeper of the Year 9 times. He was inducted in the UEFA European Championship Team of the Tournament in 1960 and 1964.
Yashin won the USSR Goalkeeper of the year three times. He aslo won 1963 Ballon d’Or.
Gianluigi Buffon (Italy):
Gianluigi Buffon born 28 January 1978. He is an Italian professional footballer who captains and plays as a goalkeeper for the Serie B club Parma. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time. Many people consider him to be great goalkeeper, and some even consider him the best of all time. Besides, he remained one of the highest-paid athletes throughout his entire career.
Buffon started his career with Serie B side Parma in 1995, he stayed there till 2001 and during his spell the football goalkeeper won the Coppa Italian cup along with UEFA Super Cup in 1998. Buffon also won the Supper Copa italia in 1999 season. Later in 2001, Buffon joined the Italian Giants Juventus. During his illustrious career with Juventus he won Serie A title ten times and the Coppa Italia Cup six time. He also won the Supercoppa Italiana six times.
In he is professional career, Buffon made over 1,100 appearances, he’s one of the few players to achieve this milestone. During the 2015–16 season, Buffon held the record for the most consecutive minutes without allowing a goal in Serie A between March and November 2015-16 season, Buffon played 974 consecutive minutes without conceding a goal. Buffon was one the greatest Italian Shot stopper, every striker feard Buffon.
With the Italian national team Gianluigi Buffon won the FIFA World Cup in 2006, where he kept five clean sheets. Buffon featured in four European Championships, winning the bronze medal in 2013.
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