Top ten players of all time: Goalkeepers

Posted by - April 25, 2011 - Lists

The start of a mini series

This week (partly because I am away on a walk with a lot of evening hotel time) OTP will be creating our top ten footballers of all time in each position. Today we start with the greatest goalkeepers (with defenders, midfielders, forwards and managers to follow).

As ever, it is undoubted that you will disagree with my selections and order, so feel free to abuse me at will (Where is Buffon? etc):

10) Pat Jennings
Jennings is the record caps holder for Northern Ireland, making 119 caps, and no player has united Spurs and Arsenal fans more. Jennings also holds the impressive honour of making over 1000 top level appearances.

During his career Jennings won three domestic trophies at Spurs and one at Arsenal, and also the UEFA Cup in 1972. On an international level, Jennings made his debut in the same game as George Best made his first appearance, and went on to play for his country over an incredible 23 years.

Individual honours:
Football Writers’ Footballer of the Year 1973
PFA Players’ Player of the Year 1976

9) Oliver Kahn
Making over 850 games in his career, Kahn will be mostly known for his dominating presence, and a Bruce Banna face that made him look like the grumpiest man alive.

Kahn holds the impressive honour of being the only goalkeeper to win the World Cup Golden Ball (best player) award, and also was awarded with the man of the match award in the Champions League final 2001.

Kahn’s success can be described as such: in his domestic career he won 23 trophies.

Individual honours:
German Footballer of the Year: 2000, 2001
UEFA Club Football Awards – Best Goalkeeper: 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002
Best Bundesliga Keeper: 1994, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002
Best European Goalkeeper: 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002
FIFA World Cup Golden Ball: 2002

8 ) Rinat Dasaev
The only possible entry in the list that may not be instantly recognisable, Dasaev doesn’t get the praise that he deserves due to the lack of coverage of Russian football during the eighties, the Iron Curtain period.

Dasaev eventually gained foreign recognition after he guided his national side to the final of Euro 88 (where he was beaten by Van Basten’s wonder volley), and earned a move to Sevilla.

Best Soviet goalkeeper: 1980, 1982, 1983, 1985, 1987, 1988
Soviet Footballer of the Year: 1982
World’s Best Goalkeeper of the Year: 1988

7) Edwin Van der Sar
In terms of longevity, Van der Sar should be higher up our list: he has played 941 games, all at the top level of football. He also holds the record for Champions League clean sheets (50), which is all the more impressive as he spent four years watching it on telly in the evenings after training with Fulham (a strange move in retrospect).

Awarded Man of the Match in the 2008 Champions League final, this winners medal came thirteen years after his first.

Still considered to be one of the top five (three?) keepers in the world, even at the age of 41.

Individual honours:
PFA Premier League Team of the Year: 2006–07, 2008–09
Best European Goalkeeper: 1995, 2008, 2009, 2010
Dutch Football Goalkeeper of the Year: 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997

6) Iker Casillas
It is a genuinely mental that Casillas is still in his twenties. He has the same amount of caps for his country as Jennings did in his whole career, and has potentially more than 5 years left before he is replaced by a younger model.

Domestically the Spaniard has made 564 games, and won 12 trophies. So that’s just the 683 games before 30 then. Jesus.

Individual honours:
FIFA World Cup Golden Glove: 2010
FIFA World Cup All-Star Team: 2010
LFP best goalkeeper: 2008–09
FIFA/FIFPro World’s best goalkeeper 2008, 2009, 2010
UEFA Team of the Year: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010
FIFA World XI: 2008, 2009, 2010

5) Gordon Banks
The only English entrant in our list (sorry to Shilton, Seaman and Scott Carson), it is unfortunate that we only remember Banks for one save (although what a save it was).

Surprisingly, although Banks was an incredible shotstopper, he made only 73 caps for England, and won just two League Cups at domestic level, choosing to stay loyal to Leicester City and Stoke City. Ended his career by playing in the US, South Africa and Ireland.

Although coming to the end of his career in 1972 he suffered a car crash in which he lost the sight in his right eye.

Individual honours:
Awarded OBE: 1970

4) Peter Schmeichel
The great Dane, and the greatest goalkeeper in Premier League history. Petr Cech, Edwin Van der Sar and Pepe Reina are pretenders to the throne, but Schmeichel is number one.

Legendary at making himself appear big in one on one situations, his domestic career at Manchester United is littered with breathtaking saves, and was a bedrock of the most successful side in Premier League history. You can win anything with kids if Schmeichel is in goal.

So successful at Old Trafford that he is forgiven for moving to City.

Individual honours:
UEFA Goalkeeper of the Year: 1992, 1993, 1997, 1998
Save of the Decade (vs. Newcastle, 21 December 1997)
PFA England League Team of the Century (1907 to 2007): 2007
UEFA Club Football Awards: 1997–98

3) Sepp Maier
Part of the all conquering Bayern Munich side that won three European Cups in a row, Maier played for Bayern for his whole career. He was also picked for four different World Cup squads, for a country that in that time played in two finals and a semi final, gaining a winners medal in 1974.

The best statistic about his career is that he played in 442 league games consecutively, over a period of 14 years.

Individual honours:
German Footballer of the Year: 1975, 1977, 1978

2) Dino Zoff
Named in 2003 as the greatest Italian player of the last fifty years, Zoff was able to continue at the highest level right until the end of his career. The perfect example was this was being able to captain his country to World Cup in 1982 at the age of 40, 22 years after his career began. He is still the oldest player to win the World Cup.

His consistency is highlighted by the fact that he went 1142 minutes without conceded an international goal, a period stretching almost three years.

Individual honours:
Italy’s Golden Player

1) Lev Yashin
It is an unbelievable achievement that Yashin has such a high reputation within common thought, given that he was born in 1929 and played all of his career in Russia.

Yashin played 812 career games, and made over 150 penalty saves, amassing an amazing 270 clean sheets. Yashin was the leader of a Soviet team that reached three World Cups.

Finally, Yashin is also the only goalkeeper to win European Footballer of the Year, and deserves massive credit for the following tip for saving penalties:

“to have a smoke to calm your nerves, then toss back a strong drink to tone your muscles.”

Individual honours:
FIFA World Keeper of the Century
European Footballer of the Year: 1963
Order of Lenin

  • Massimo Taibi

    I think it can sometimes be too easy to dismiss recent players as being the greatest as players from the past will always be looked at with rose tinted glasses (to a degree) or hardly viewed at all (Yashin and Pele).

    Schmeichel was immense, he wasn’t just the greatest keeper of all time, he revolutionised goalkeeping. The star jump blocks, his long throws, no other keeper did these things. His perfomances in the 92 Euros against Holland and Germany were unbelievable too, he pretty much won Denmark that trophy.

    My favourite save of his which I still haven’t since since it was on MOTD the day he did it was a shot by David Howes (I think) away to Spurs. The ball was going in the top corner and Peter lept and held the ball with one hand, landed with the ball still in his one hand, incredible.

  • Justin

    Some good names in there. Sepp Maier helped revolutionise goalkeeping, and more than played his part in winning all the important trophies. But he never played on anything less than star-laden, powerhouse teams, and as a goalkeeper, he wasn’t nearly as good as Neville Southall – without whom there really cannot be a top 10 list – Ray Clemence, Hans Van Breukelen, Jean-Marie Pfaff, or Peter Shilton. Dino Zoff, too, has been treated a bit more kindly by history than his actual ability warranted.

  • Boohoo

    Kahn made a hash of what should have been his greatest game, the 2002 World Cup Final.

  • Jekyll

    I wonder if you even saw Lev Yashin ever play football?