6 Greatest Soccer Goalkeepers of All Time
There was never a fantastic football club that won a lot of trophies without having some great players. While the spotlight is always focused on strikers and creative midfielders, no team worth of praise can’t be imagined without having a proper goalkeeper – a true number one. Being a complete team from the man between goalposts to the finisher upfront is what makes champions. And it all starts with the goalie. In recent years you saw what it meant for Liverpool to switch from Loris Karius to Alisson.
A dreadful defeat in the hands of Real Madrid was replaced with a comfortable win over Tottenham Hotspur in just one year span. Even if it sometimes looks like they’re just standing there around the penalty box, the great goalkeepers can decide games on their own. While many of them will be remembered in history, let’s talk about the six greatest soccer goalkeepers of all time.
1. Gianluigi Buffon
The famous Gigi started his career at Parma back in 1995 when Seria A was the world’s premium soccer league. The early days are far behind him, and in the midtime, he has become the legend of Italian powerhouse Juventus and the world soccer alike. His career lasts for almost three decades in which he managed to make over 1100 appearances for both club and country. He’s a record maker in terms of appearances as no player made more appearances in Serie A than him and also for the national team.
It was evident from the start that he’s destined for the top, as at a young age, he managed to win UEFA Cup and the Coppa Italia with Parma. With Juventus, he has numerous league titles, cup titles, and also on French title with PSG to his name. His most significant success to date was the 2006 World Cup he won with Italy. Truly one of the greats.
2. Peter Schmeichel
A blonde devil in the Red Devils uniform. This Danish giant made a name for himself with Manchester United. Under Sir Alex Ferguson, this goalkeeper spent eight successful years with Man Utd. Before and after his time with United, Schmeichel had successful stints with Brondby, Sporting Lisbon, Aston Villa, and Manchester City. As we said, most of his success came with United, where he won the 1999 Champions League, five Premier League titles, and three FA Cups. On the international level, he represented Denmark with 129 caps.
In 1992 he won the European Championship with the national team. For the clubs we listed above, he accumulated over 700 appearances. During his tenure in the Premier League, he managed to keep the clean sheet in 42% of all games he played. During his 24 years long career, he gained a reputation as a fierce fighter and is considered the best GK of all times by many fans and pundits.
3. Gordon Banks
Banks is by far the best goalie the Three Lions ever had, and most people rank him top three of all time. For club and country, he has over 700 games. He played for the national team for over one decade. The one trophy that everyone associates with this goalkeeper is the 1966 World Cup. He was the backbone of the winning team and only conceded three goals in the entire tournament. His club career wasn’t as glamorous as he never won a championship but has two league cups, one with Leicester and the other with Stoke.
He was named FIFA goalkeeper of the year six times during his career.No other goalkeeper managed this. Who knows what else he would manage if a car accident hasn’t shortened his career at the top level.
4. Oliver Kahn
With over 800 apps for both club and country, Oliver Kahn has his name written in history. The career of this German goalie spanned for 21 years, 14 of which he spent with Bavarian giants Bayern Munich. His career is one for the ages with eight league titles, six domestic cups, and a UEFA Cup, all crowned with the 2001 Champions League. On the international level, he won the 1996 EURO, while in 2002 he was runner-up in the World Cup.
Despite the final loss in the hands of Ronaldo and Brazil, he was the one to take home the Golden Ball. He remains the only goalkeeper to this day to manage this feat. His leadership skills and strength make him very similar to one Dane we mentioned above.
5. Iker Casillas
A goalkeeper that is called a saint? Yes, Saint Iker, as he’s known in Madrid. This goalie managed to win it all both on the club and the international level. The best part is that he managed to do it all before turning 32. This is what happens when you start young. He was only sixteen when he was given his first-team debut. What followed are La Liga titles, Champions League crowns, Copa de Rey, Supercopa, Uefa Super Cup, and the Intercontinental Cup, all with Real Madrid. With Spain, Iker managed to win both Euro’s and the World Cup, lifting the first one on two occasions.
Casillas is the one one who managed to win it all, and he did it in less than two decades. A truly remarkable career. He spent his late years with Porto in Portugal when his career was abruptly interrupted by heart issues. Luckily he has nothing more to prove, as he’ll remain remembered as one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time.
6. Lev Yashin
While he was playing in a different era, many people believe that he’s the undisputed king among goalkeepers. During his twenty-year career, Yashin played in his homeland for Dynamo Moscow. With his boyhood club, he managed to win five league titles and three domestic cups. The biggest successes of his career came on the international level with the Soviet Union. The Black Spider won the 1960 European Championships and the 1956 Olympic Games with the Red Army. His nickname came as the consequence of his athleticism and reflexes. He was so good between the goalposts that he even played hockey for a while. To this day, he remains the only goalkeeper to even win Ballon d’Or.