After the success of our “25 Greatest Players I’ve Seen” article, I was contacted on Twitter and asked to do a goalkeeper equivalent. Now I will admit this is a bit more difficult, goalkeepers are very much a specialist position, and I have never played in goal or indeed ever understood why anybody would want to. They are indeed a rare bunch.
Again the same rules as last time apply, I am only listing goalkeepers from my lifetime as I simply cannot compare Lev Yashin to Iker Casillas or Peter Shilton to David Seaman. I was only around to witness Casillas and Seamans careers. I have watched youtube clips and seen old matches but its not the same as living through these time periods, and for that reason the list will be players I’ve seen in my lifetime.
I have also shortened the list from 25 to 20 as I found this a lot more difficult than my outfield player one (which can be found here http://wp.me/p3gSvX-Q )
So here it is the top 20 goalkeepers of my lifetime. In reverse order, please comment below with your thoughts and share and retweet this on Twitter @euroleaguenews
20. Andy Goram Scotland & Rangers, Hibernian, Manchester United, Queen Of The South (various others)
This may surprise a few people, but only people who never actually watched Goram play, having grew up watching him for Rangers and Scotland I can safely say he is one of the finest shot stoppers in the world. The legendary Celtic player then manager Tommy Burns famously said “you can put it on my gravestone Andy Goram broke my heart.” Goram won a multitude of trophies at Ibrox and when Sir Alex Ferguson needed an emergency goalkeeper late into Gorams career, he duly responded playing two games for his boyhood heroes.
19. Santiago Canizares Spain & Real Madrid, Celta Vigo & Valencia
Canizares is a four time winner of Spain’s Zamora Trophy (awarded to Spain’s best GK of the year) He has also won many team trophies including 5 league titles, 4 cops del rays and the champions league. He represented Spain 46 times and was in line to be first choice at the 2002 world cup – until he dropped an aftershave bottle on his foot, ruling him out of the competition.
18. Neville Southall Wales & Everton (and various others)
Again this may be a controverial choice, considering I have left out stars of European football like Dida, Hart, Kopke, Julio Cesar etc, but I grew up watching Match Of The Day every Saturday night and my abiding memory is of countless Southall saves. Unrivaled as a shot stopper, he played for Wales 92 times and won two league titles at Everton, alongside 2 FA Cups and a UEFA Cup Winners Cup in a fabulous career that spanned from 1980-2002.
17. Francesco Toldo Italy, Fiorentina & Inter Milan.
Toldo was perhaps unlucky in that his career coincided with Buffons, but we must not forget how good Toldo was. Serie A and IFFHS Goalkeeper of the year in 2000 when he could justifiably claim to be the worlds best. He won 5 league and 5 cups in Italy and picked up 28 caps for his country.
16. Angelo Peruzzi Italy, Roma, Inter Milan, Juventus & Lazio
He literally won the lot, 3 Serie A titles, 2 Coppa Italias, 1 UEFA Cup, 1 Champions League, 1 Intercontenental Cup and he was even a member of Italy’s world cup winning squad in 2006. Peruzzi won the Serie A goalkeeper of the year award 3 Times.
15. Shay Given Republic of Ireland, Aston Villa, Newcastle United & Manchester City
Given is, even now, an exceptionally underrated goalkeeper. He made 125 appearances for Ireland. He may not of won many trophies but he will be remembered as one of the best goalkeepers to play in the UK. He did win the 2011 FA Cup and was twice named in the PFA Team of the year.
14. Claudio Taffarel Brazil, Parma & Galatasaray (various others)
A truly tremendous keeper, I will never forget being at Ibrox for a champions league game between Rangers and Galatasaray, Rangers dominated the game but Taffarel pulled off several world class saves, that night I saw first hand how good he was. A world cup winner in 1994, he also won the UEFA Cup Winners Cup and UEFA Cup in his storied career.
13. Manuel Neuer Germany, Schalke & Bayern Munich.
If I do this list again in ten years time, there is a good chance Neuer will be much further up the list. Only 26 years old, Neuer is a giant of the current game, known for his fantastic distribution, his shot stopping and superb reflexes. Neuer already has 36 caps for Germany and has played in a champions league final. I suspect he will add much more trophies in his bright future.
12. Jose Luis Chilavert Paraguay, San Lorenzo, Real Zaragoza, Velez Sarsfield & Strasbourg
Goalkeeper and set piece expert, he scored a truly phenomenal 62 goals in his remarkable career. Away from his goalscoring exploits, and what is often forgotten amongst his exploits is that he was a truly exceptional keeper. Winning the IFFHS Worlds Best Goalkeeper a sensational three times, He also won Copa Libertadores and the Intercontinental Cup in 1994, two years later he was named as South American Footballer of the Year, a fantastic achievement for a goalkeeper.
11. Walter Zenga Italy, Inter Milan & Sampdoria
Arguably the finest goalie in the world from 1989 to 1991 reflected by the fact he won the IFFHS Best Goalkeeper three years running, he also won Serie A, UEFA Goalkeeper of the Year, 2 UEFA Cups and the Serie A Footballer of the Year in this three year spell. Zenga picked up 58 caps for Italy and was well liked for his larger than life personality along with his awesome goalkeeping abilities.
10. Petr Cech Czech Republic, Chelsea, Rennes & Sparta Prague
98 Caps for his national team, Champions league winning goalkeeper, premier league winner x3, FA Cup winner x4, Czech Player of the Year x6, UEFA Best Goalkeeper x2…..the list goes on and on. Cechs honours list is really something to behold. A tremendous feat for a man who suffered a terrible head injury in a Premier League match versus Reading in 2006. He recovered and has gone from strength to strength as Chelseas number one.
9. Victor Valdes Spain & Barcelona
You almost have to feel slightly sorry for Valdes, he would most likely be Spains number one at nearly any other point in history, he plays for what many have called the greatest team ever and as a result he rarely gets the recognition his ability deserves.He really is a great keeper, he has won a record 5 Zamora Trophies as Spains top goalkeeper, his club and country honours list dont need spelling out, he has every medal in the game! And yet still i feel sorry for him!!!
8. Fabien Barthez France, Manchester United, Marseille, Monaco & Nantes
Often criticised, Barthez remains an enigma, a truly great goalkeeper, although he is often seen as a laughing stock in some quarters, its true at times with Manchester United he didn’t cover himself in glory. But it should be remembered that he was a top quality keeper, he was a world and european champion with France. He also won four league titles, 2 in France and 2 in England. His crowning achievement in the club game was the 1993 champions league win with Marseille.
7. David Seaman England, Arsenal, Birmingham City & QPR
England’s finest goalkeeper since the legendary Peter Shilton, Seaman won 3 league titles with Arsenal, 4 FA Cups & a UEFA Cup Winners Cup. He represented England 75 times. A great number one, Seaman was synonymous with both Arsenal and England for almost a decade. Just don’t mention Nayim or Ronaldinho!
6. Andoni Zubizarreta Spain, Athletic Bilbao, Barcelona & Valencia
Zubi’ represented Spain in an incredible 7 major tournaments, winning 126 international caps. At club level he won the European Cup in 1992 and the cup winners cup in 1989. He also won an impressive 6 Spanish league championships. Surprisingly he only won one Zamora trophy in 1987.
5. Edwin Van Der Sar The Netherlands, Manchester United, Fulham, Ajax & Juventus.
For years Sir Alex Ferguson tried desperately to replace Peter Schmeichel, the only surprise is he didn’t sign Van Der Sar sooner. He won 130 caps for Holland. His 1311 minutes without conceding a goal remains a worldwide league record. He won 8 league titles (4 Hol, 4 Eng), 2 champions leagues, a UEFA Cup and countless other trophies. He will surely go down as The Netherlands greatest ever goalie.
4. Peter Schmeichel Denmark & Manchester United
The Great Dane, was a dominant figure at Old Trafford, his presence alone would often scare opponents. A great all round keeper, Schmeichel won the European Championships with Denmark in 1992 and won every major trophy during Man United’s golden era in the nineties. He was a key member of the famous treble winning team.
3. Oliver Kahn Germany & Bayern Munich
The German with the ice cold stare that would surely put even the steeliest of opponents off. Kahn was a truly phenomenal GK. He won 4 UEFA Club Goalkeeper of the year awards, the Golden Ball at the world cup in 02′, and 2 German footballer of the year awards. He also won the champions league and UEFA cup along with 8 league titles in a glittering career.
2. Iker Casillas Spain & Real Madrid
“Saint Iker” as he is known around Madrid. He is part of a very small group of players who have won all the major club and international honours. He is Spain’s all time most capped player and he has played more champions league games than any other goalkeeper. He has been named in the UEFA team of the year a record 6 times, and has won both the IFFHS and FIFPro Goalkeeper of the year awards 5 times each. His shot stopping, agility and reflexes are among his considerable talents.
1. Gianluigi Buffon Italy, Parma & Juventus
Shot stopping, leadership, agility, crosses, distribution whatever you want your goalkeeper to have, this man has got. He has won the Serie A goalkeeper of the year award a record 9 times, and was awarded the Yashin Award in 2006. The pinnacle of his career came in 06′ when he won the world cup with Italy. He remains the only goalkeeper to ever win the UEFA Club Player of the Year.
I hope you have enjoyed this list, please leave your comments below or tweet us @euroleaguenews
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