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Top Ten Greatest Goalkeepers

By Edited Jun 11, 2015 1 4


Number 10 Neville Southall

After spending some time with a couple small Welsh clubs his career took off when he started at Bury. There is a standing joke that when he started out with Bury, he was banned from training with the rest of the squad because they were getting a bit despondent that he was ruining their shooting practice by saving everything thrown at him. But that was Neville Southall all over - even in training he never gave less than 100%.


As with all 'naturals' he was soon spotted by Everton after only playing 39 games for Bury. This meant that within two years he had gone from working as a dustman in Llandudno to playing First division football. For the next sixteen years he would remain as Evertons first-choice keeper, experiencing all their highs and lows.
The honours began to build up thick and fast, Everton were experiencing a real revival under Howard Kendall and won the League, FA Cup and the Cup Winners' Cup. Indeed, Southall was voted Player of the Year in 1985 .


Although successful on the domestic front, the big Welshman enjoyed little success on the international scene and although he was an established World Class player, he never played in a major tournament. The closest he got was in 1993, when Wales narrowly missed out on World Cup qualification. Nevertheless, he racked up 91 caps - a national record.  Neville Southall played over 700 times for Everton - a club record - and was the first player to make 200 appearances in the Premiership.




Number 9  David Seaman There is no doubt that during his time David Seaman was one of the best goalkeepers in the history of the English game, mentioned in the same breath as Peter Shilton and Gordon Banks. During Euro 96, he was in the form of his life as England narrowly missed out on another triumph on home soil and he achieved national hero status when he saved Gary McAllister's penalty against Scotland.
He began his career at Leeds United and steadily made made his name with spells with Peterborough United and Birmingham City before transferring to Queen's Park Rangers. It was while he was with Rangers that he began to attract attention and in 1988 he made his England début against Saudi Arabia. Injury kept him out of the World Cup in 1990 but in the summer of the same year he was snapped up by George Graham and began a thirteen years of fame with Arsenal. Playing a vital role for Arsenals defence, he would eventually play over 500 games for the North London club, adding a number of winners medals to his collection along the way, before eventually joining Manchester City on a free transfer.
He was his country's first-choice goalkeeper for nearly eight years and played in four successive major tournaments. He made over 60 caps for his country and was still considered the country's best keeper at the ripe old age of 40. Eventually he was displaced, but more through injury than loss of form.



Number 8 Peter Bonetti

Bonetti was always going to be something special. A stylish keeper, who was easily the most spectacular goalie of his day, he made his début for Chelsea at the age of 18 and starred in the Blues' impressive cup runs in the late 60s, winning the FA Cup, League Cup and Cup Winners' Cup. Nicknamed The Cat, he played for Chelsea 729 times between 1959 and 1979 - a record at the time - and once managed to keep 21 clean sheets in a single season.
Many compared his style of keeping to the continental goalies of day and he certainly had an element of flamboyance in his game. He was good in the air and had a certain agility which allowed him to change direction in mid-flight.
His international stats also make impressive reading too. Prior to the game against West Germany in Leon, Bonetti had six wins out of six to his name, keeping five clean sheets and conceding just one goal. He made over 700 appearances for Chelsea and picked up seven England caps.




Number 7 Joe Corrigan

People often forget just how good Joe Corrigan was in goal. Sure, they remember the name, they may have even seen him play once or twice but he always be remembered as England's third choice goalkeeper. And for that, you have to blame a certain Ray Clemence and Peter Shilton.
With two such outstanding goalkeepers competing for the one jersey it was always going to be hard to get a look-in on the international scene. Had he be born elsewhere, he would probably have been an automatic first choice but Joe was as English as they come, and to be honest, he fared better than most other keepers unfortunate enough to playing around that time. He may have only won nine caps but it was a lot more than the likes of Phil Parkes, Jim Montgomery and Bryan King ever won, despite their obvious talents.


Number 6 Ray Clemence In 2001, a poll conducted by Total Football placed the former Liverpool and England goalkeeper on top spot, beating the likes of Pat Jennings, Gordon Banks and Peter Shilton. That says a lot His natural athleticism and agility combined with his shot-stopping prowess made him one of the best of his generation and when he was at the top of his game, there truly was no one better, such as when he made save after save to earn England a goalless draw in Rio in 1977.


It was the keen eye of legendary Bill Shankley who spotted his obvious talent and paid £18,000 to take him to Liverpool. Within two years he was the choice keeper for the team and went on to play 665 first team games, keeping an incredible 335 clean sheets along the way.
At club level, he won everything there was to win including three European Cups, five League Championships, two UEFA Cups and two FA Cups and he ended up with a haul of 13 domestic medals, becoming one of the country's most decorated players in the process. His international career, however, was less auspicious. But in all fairness this was down to the fact that he was having to compete with the likes of Peter Shilton and Joe Corrigan, Clemence won 61 England caps in total.




Number 5 Pat Jennings Some say the perfect traits for a goalkeeper were to be found in Pat Jennings. Unorthodox, unflappable, respectable and polite. Despite never receiving any formal kind of coaching - or even because of it - he became one of the greatest goalkeepers the game has ever seen. One of his greatest assets were the size of his hands. They helped him pull off spectacular one-handed saves which didn't see possible and he had the habit of breaking the hearts of many a centre forward by clawing the ball out of the air single-handedly and holding onto it. He was the first to use his feet to good effect and underlined the strength of his kicking by scoring from a goal kick during the 1967 Charity Shield match against Manchester United.

At Tottenham Hotspur  he enjoyed the most successful spell of his career, winning the FA Cup, two League Cups and the UEFA Cup in quick succession. However, believing he was past his best, Spurs foolishly sold him to local rivals Arsenal for £40,000 in 1977, where he enjoyed further success and played on for another eight seasons. He appeared in three more FA Cup Finals and a Cup Winners Cup Final before capping his career with an appearance at the World Cup Finals, where he played in the Northern Ireland side that unexpectedly beat host nation Spain to progress to the Quarter Final. Such was his stance in the game that he came out of retirement to play in the 1986 finals in Mexico, winning his record 119th cap on his 41st birthday against Brazil.



Number 4  Bert Trautmann Had to put old Bert in here, his was quite a story. Born in Bremen, Germany, Bert Trautmann enlisted into the Wehrmacht at the outbreak of the Second World War and by 1945 he had been court martialled for sabotage (he was a paratrooper), captured by the Russians and escaped; captured by the Free French and escaped; captured by the Americans and escaped before finally being captured by the British. He eventually ended up at POW Camp. Originally a centre forward, he went in goal when injury prevented him from competing outfield. His natural talent was quickly recognised and he ended up at St. Helen's Town - where he first attracted the attentions of Manchester City. But he overcame these odds to become a legend at the Maine Road club and earn the respect of the football community.
He made 545 appearances in total for the blues and his reputation was further enhanced when he broke his neck during the 1956 FA Cup final but continued to play in goal (his broken neck was discovered three days later when he went for a check up). His efforts earned him the league's Player of the Year award and a place in FA Cup folklore.



Number 3 Lev Yashin I'm not really up with foreign goalkeepers or teams come to that, however, Yashin is someone I do remember. He was one of the few goalkeepers who could genuinely challenge Gordon Banks for the title of greatest goalkeeper of all-time.
He made a great contribution to the game and challenged many of the traditional attitudes towards goalkeeping that were prevalent within the game at the time. The big Russian was one of the first goalkeepers to command his entire penalty area and one of the first to do away with catching the ball - if punching or kicking was easier or more effective, Yashin had no qualms in doing so.
First choice goalkeeper for the Soviet Union from 1954 to 1967, he won 78 caps in total and appeared in the final stages of three World Cups. In 1956 he was a member of the Soviet team that won Olympic Gold in Melbourne and in 1960 he won the European Championships. Domestically, he only ever played for one club - Dynamo Moscow - where he won five league championships and three Cup titles.
In 1963 Lev Yahsin was voted European Footballer of the Year and remains the only goalkeeper to have ever won. He was award the Order of Lenin in 1967 before retiring at the age of 41 in 1971 having kept an unprecedented 270 clean sheets (he is also rumoured to have saved over 150 penalties). He passed away in 1990.




Number 2 Peter Shilton Shilton will always be remembered as one of the greats. England's most capped player with 125 caps to his name, Shilton helped himself to a number of England goalkeeping records during his remarkable career - most matches, sixty-six clean sheets, captain fifteen times and second only in terms of age and length of career to Stanley Matthews. He's also England oldest ever captain, leading the team out at the age of 40 in 1990. He played in the final stages of the World Cup 17 times - a British record - and kept 10 clean sheets, also a record.


One of the few records he missed out on was Gordon Banks' record of seven consecutive matches without conceding a goal - but he came mightily close, twice reaching six games in a row. And of course, he is still the only English goalkeeper ever to win a World Cup Winners medal.

Domestically, he won the League title with Nottingham Forest plus a couple of League Cup triumphs. He also won two European Cups and was voted Man of the Match in the second of these when he single handedly kept Kevin Keegan's SV Hamburg at bay in 1980. He also made over 1000 league appearances, achieving his personal millennium milestone when he turned out for Third Division Leyton Orient in 1998. He played for nine clubs in total - Leicester City, Stoke City, Nottingham Forest, Southampton, Derby County, Plymouth Argyle, Wimbledon, Bolton Wanderers and Leyton Orient before finally hanging up his boots.



Number 1  Gordon Banks

Whenever your asked to name a really great goalkeeper, who comes to mind – Gordon Banks He never seemed to make spectacular saves – because he read the game so well, he didn't have to. He made it look so easy. And of course I have to mention that total amazing save from Pele's header during the 1970 World Cup Finals.


First capped at the age of 25, Banks was the first England goalkeeper to play more than 33 times and the first to keep more than ten clean sheets. During his career he established a number of records at international level for England that remained until Peter Shilton came onto the scene.
But Shilton was unable to capture all of Banks' records. Banks still holds the England record of seven clean sheets in a row. Banks' success on the international stage was not mirrored domestically. He seemed destined to finish on losing side in Wembley Cup finals until finally winning the League Cup with Stoke City in 1972. He twice played on the losing side of the FA Cup Final with Leicester City during the 1960s.
He didn't have much luck with injury either. He missed a vital World Cup Quarter Final against West Germany in 1970 when he was struck down by a bad bottle of beer of all things the night before and his career was brought to an untimely end after he lost an eye in a road accident. He turned to coaching before temporarily resurrecting his career in the North American Soccer League.





Nov 8, 2012 8:10pm
what is this... Except Russian no other goalkeeper who played outside England was good?

How good english goalkeepers are we can see in last 20 years! Where is Dino Zoff??? Peter Smeichel? Buffon? Beara?

Don't write about something you don't know anything about!
Feb 27, 2013 10:35am
I agree...definitely a bit bias towards the English game. Great keepers but tons of others to list in my opinion. Casillas, Kahn, Tony Meola (jk)
Dec 12, 2012 10:00am
O dear.
I seem to have upset someone. Unfortunately you come across as a typical British football holigan. If your precious team looses, or someone writes something that you don't agree with, you get very agressive and lash out. You may not agree with what I say but that does not give you some god given right to say I'm wrong. Welcome to the real world where everybody is entitled to give their own opinion.
Feb 27, 2013 7:36pm
Edwin van der Saar was better goalkeeper (and bet has more trophies than any listed above) than any other on the list... Regarding comments about hooligans, please don't embarrass yourself... And stop writing about something you don't know anything about...
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