The five best goalkeepers of all time
It’s becoming ever more difficult to compare players from different eras. The goalkeeper spot is perhaps the toughest of the lot to cross examine. Why? Well, simply put, what was required of keepers back in the ‘good old days’ isn’t the case now with footwork being one of the key requirements of the modern game. That said, I’ve still decided to take a look at the five best goalkeepers of all time. There will be a few different eras included too.
And the best goalkeepers of all time are…
Number 5. Peter Schmeichel
Kicking off our top five is the great Dane, Schmeichel. Schmeichel is best remembered for his eight year spell with Manchester United. During that time he won an impressive 10 major honours with the club on his way to establishing himself as the greatest goalie in the history of the Premier League.
He was famed for his wide spread frame that is perhaps one of the most daunting things for a striker to see when running through on goal whilst he wasn’t afraid to voice his opinions to his teammates. Schmeichel was so good in fact that he’s still seen as a legend by the Reds fanbase despite joining Manchester City later on in his career.
Number 4. Gordon Banks
He might be best known for that save to deny the great Pele but the former England number one was much more than a ‘one save man’. That thought is backed up with six back to back FIFA Goalkeeper of the Year awards. The start of that run? 1966, which just so happens to coincide with the year he kept goal throughout England’s solitary World Cup winning campaign where he made the team of the tournament.
Two league cup wins eight years apart for Leicester and Stoke City respectively are his only honours at a domestic level but his status as a hero for pretty much every club he represented is enough of a legacy by anyone’s measure.
Number 3. Manuel Neuer
Manuel Neuer is the only member of our top five to still be holding a number one spot today. Depending how much longer he goes on, he may well oust our number two pick. For now though, the first true ‘sweeper keeper’ will have to settle for third spot. The Bayern Munich stopper is almost single-handedly responsible for revolutionising the role of the goalkeeper with his skills on the ball up there with most elite level outfield players.
That’s not to say he’s shabby on the more traditional side of keeping either. His reflexes and shot stopping ability measures up to the best of them. He’s spent the entirety of his career in Germany with Schalke and, since 2011, Bayern. 14 major trophies – 13 of which were won with the Bavarians – in addition to two World Cup wins means his trophy cabinet must be nearly as impressive as the player himself.
Number 2. Gianluigi Buffon
Depending on your generation, it’s quite possible you’ll be surprised that Buffon isn’t topping this list. Coming second is no mean feat though and it’s a place the Italian great deserves. Buffon made his move into senior football in 1994 and, at age 42, he’s remarkably still going having returned to Juventus last summer after a one year spell with PSG his only taste of football away from his homeland.
The former Parma keeper has lifted major silverware with every team he’s represented; a Ligue 1 title in France, a Coppa Italia and UEFA Cup with Parma and a host of honours with Juve. His crowning achievement though is the 2006 World Cup triumph where Buffon conceded just two goals – an own goal and a Zinedine Zidane spot kick in the final. Truly one of the best.
Number 1. Lev Yashin
There are few from Yashin’s era who would disagree that the Soviet is worthy of top spot on our list. The ‘black spider’ as he was known was the first keeper to break away from the mould of ‘table football goalies’; most in Yashin’s era of the fifties and sixties would stay quietly rooted to their line. Not Yashin. He would bark at his defenders, come for crosses and dive at attackers feet. He was a real goalkeeper.
Yashin’s career was phenomenal too. He spent the entirety of it with Dynamo Moscow. He won eight domestic trophies and on the international scene he lifted an Olympic Gold medal and a European Championship. Of course, there is also the fact he’s the only keeper to win the Ballon d’Or. Case closed.
There you have it, the five best goalkeepers of all time.