Arguably the most important position on the team, football would be a very different game if we didn’t have keepers around to defend the goals. In many instances, the success or failure of a game comes down entirely to how well the goalkeeper managed to do their job. But who are the best of all time? Here, we take a look at eight different goalies who distinguished themselves on the pitch.
Hailed as one of the greatest players of his generation, the Ulsterman had a good run with both Spurs and Arsenal and managed to take home multiple trophies. He also set the world record for most appearances playing for Northern Ireland, with 119 appearances. Undoubtedly his finest moment came in 1967, which saw him block the ball, punt it downfield, and straight into the opposing side’s goal.
“The Black Spider” is a somewhat fearsome-sounding nickname but refers to Yashin’s goalscoring ability – he was so skilled he was said to have six arms. Notoriously loyal to his club Dynamo Moscow and beloved by the people of Russia, he was well-known for having several strange rituals, such as playing in his lucky cap and touching the ball before a match. He won the Ballon d’Or in 1963, the only goalkeeper ever to do so.
Capped by England 75 times, fans agree on Seaman being one of the best British
goalkeepers ever. He played for England for fifteen consecutive years between 1988 and 2003 – a record at the time – and was named the best goalkeeper during Euro 96. Despite being a southpaw he still used his right arm and foot to play with – that’s discipline right there.
Named “the Great Dane” for his great size and golden locks, Schmeichel became notorious for his masterful ability to block shots, perfecting the art of the sweeper goalie and his signature “star jump”. Incredibly, he managed to score nine goals throughout his career. He took home 15 trophies but some might say an even loftier honour was having a dog on Coronation Street named after him.
Often named the best keeper in Europe, Buffon has captained both Juventus and Italy and was a runner-up for the Ballon d’Or in 2006. Identified by many as possibly the greatest goalkeeper, he’s bagged innumerable trophies and plaudits and once set the record for a transfer fee. He once stated his willingness to continue playing until the age of 80, but officially retired last year at the age of 40. Halfway isn’t bad.
Many identify Zubizarreta (often referred to as the much more easily-pronounceable “Zubi”) as the greatest goalkeeper Spain has ever had, following a career in which he made appearances in 966 matches. Known for being a supremely calm and composed, he made a name for himself due to his adeptness at blocking many short-range shots.
He’s been called the best goalkeeper of the 80s and often appears on lists of greatest British players. After leaving Wales in 1997, where had he played for fifteen years, he went onto a fantastic run with Everton, making 592 appearances between 1981-98 and was voted in 2004 as the club’s all-time cult hero.
Shilton is well-known among football fans as a long-runner. After training with Leicester City from his early teens he was picked up by Leicester in a match against Everton at the age of 16, where his potential was quickly noticed. He’s had a distinguished career since then and has made more appearances for England than any other player: even at the age of 40 was still playing for them in 1990 as their first pick for goalkeeper. He finally retired in 1997 at the age of 48.