Those who can’t do, teach. Those who can’t teach, teach gym. And those who can’t teach gym, become goalkeepers.
That’s how the saying goes…right?
Regardless, some of those people who become goalkeepers actually end up being pretty good at it. Some captain their nation to World Cup triumphs, some save penalties in Champions League finals, and most have longer careers than outfield players.
So, without much further ado, here are the very best of the very best goalkeepers of all time.
25. David Seaman
In the final few years of his career he did have a rather unfortunate haircut, and he always had an unfortunate surname, but despite all of this he was a bloody good goalkeeper.
Arsenal’s number one in the ‘one nil to the Arsenal’ days and the most trophy-laden period of Arsene Wenger’s tenure, Seaman was ever-dependable in goal for the Gunners – rarely putting a foot wrong in his 23-year career at Highbury.
He was also a more than capable replacement for Peter Shilton at international level. The highlight of his time as England’s number one was undoubtedly his penalty shootout heroics at Euro ’96, and his lowlight was undoubtedly that thing that happened against Brazil at the 2002 World Cup.
Fun fact: Seaman keeps his ponytail in a drawer in his house now, instead of on the back of his head…it’s probably better left in the drawer.
Actor who would play him in a movie: Steven Seagal.
24. Victor Valdes
Victor Valdes isn’t the first player you think of when you think of Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona side.
Because Valdes was an integral member of the Barcelona sides that changed football at the turn of the decade, and was the prototypical Pep Guardiola goalkeeper. Valdes was basically what Ederson is at Manchester City: great with the ball at his feet and imperious when called upon to bail his team out.
Fun fact: He really likes windsurfing.
Actor who would play him in a movie: Vin Diesel.
23. Jan Oblak
One of just three goalkeepers still playing today, and the only one in his prime – spoilers – Jan Oblak is, by quite a distance, the best goalkeeper in the world.
– Save percentage since 2014: 80.2%.
– 99 clean sheets in 180 La Liga appearances for Atleti.
Actor who would play him in a movie: Armie Hammer.
22. Claudio Taffarel
Warning! the following sentence will annoy Manchester City and Liverpool fans:
Claudio Taffarel is the best Brazilian goalkeeper of the modern era.
See – I told you it would.
Look, in 10 years time Alisson may be considered to have been the better goalkeeper (Ederson won’t, get a grip City fans), but at this very moment in time Taffarel is the best Brazilian goalkeeper of the modern era.
And he is for a pretty simple reason: he was a key member of a World Cup winning Brazil side.
I’m glad you asked. Taffarel saved two of Italy’s penalties in the World Cup final penalty shootout to set up Roberto Baggio for his glorious failure.
Fun fact: Taffarel has adopted 15 children with his wife.
Actor who would play him in a move: John C. Reilly.
21. Harald Schumacher
Harald Schumacher is remembered as somewhat of a supervillain of 1980s football because of that time he nearly beheaded Patrick Battison. Oh, and the whole involvement in the doping scandal.
But instead of focusing on his Thanos level villainy, here’s a few good things about Schumacher and why he’s considered to be the 21st best goalkeeper of all time:
– Two-time German Footballer of the Year.
– World Cup Silver Ball award in 1986.
– 1980 European Championships winner.
– Two-time Turkish footballer of the year.
– Same surname as Michael Schumacher.
Fun fact: Won a ‘least popular person in France’ poll in the 1980s.
Actor who would play him in a movie: Gary Busey.
20. Rinat Dasayev
Known as the ‘Iron Curtain’, it’s fair to say that Rinat Dasayev has the best nickname on this list.
Dasayev more than lived up to that amazing nickname during his playing career. Known for his fairly ridiculous long-throw and his insistence in saving every shot with one hand, Dasayev would rack up 91 caps for the Soviet Union in their ‘golden’ side of the 80s, and roundly be considered the best goalkeeper in the world at that time.
Fun fact: Currently works as goalkeeping consultant at Spartak Moscow…no we don’t know what that entails either.
Actor who would play him in a movie: Vladimir Sokoloff.
While Claudio Taffarel is the best Brazilian goalkeeper of the modern era, Gylmar dos Santos Neves is the best Brazilian goalkeeper of all time. Period.
Known as ‘Pele’s Goalkeeper’, Gilmar was Brazil’s calming influence in between the sticks for in their 1958 and 1962 World Cup-winning campaigns.
Fun fact: Saved two penalties in friendly meeting with England at Wembley in 1956.
Actor who would play him in a movie: James Stewart.
18. Andoni Zubizarreta
Andoni Zubizarreta isn’t the type of you goalkeeper you find save compilations of on YouTube. He wasn’t your Jordan Pickford ‘oh look I made this really simple save look unbelievably difficult’ type goalkeeper.
Instead, Zubizarreta made everything look simple. He made every save look simple. He made six La Liga titles. He made a European Cup triumph look simple. He made playing four World Cups look simple.
No thrills, no spills, just an all-round great goalkeeper.
Fun fact: He holds La Liga’s appearance record.
Actor who would play him in a movie: Mark Rylance.
17. Jose Chilavert
From a goalkeeper with no YouTube highlights, to one with a highlight compilation titled:
‘José Luis Chilavert, El Bulldog [Best Saves & Goals]’.
Jose Chilavert, unlike
Actor who would play him in a movie: Randy Quaid.
16. Petr Cech
Ok, it’s time to list off some records Petr Cech holds:
– Most clean sheets in Premier League history.
– Most Premier League Golden Glove awards.
– Most clean sheets in a single Premier League season.
– Highest save percentage of the 2010s in the UEFA Champions League.
Of course he’s on this list.
Fun fact: In 2005, I named the protagonist in a short story ‘Petr’ in an English assignment. My teacher added an ‘e’ to make it Peter throughout. Yes, she thought I was an idiot.
Actor who would play him in a movie: Jason Segal.
15. Neville Southall
Younger readers will be surprised to see one of Twitter’s most prolific users on this list, but way back in the 1980s Neville Southall was one of the most uncompromising goalkeepers in England.
During his near decade long spell at Everton, Southall was exceptional, helping his side to two First Division title and two FA Cups. Yes, younger readers, Everton were actually good once upon a time too.
Fun fact: He once tweeted this – “
Actor who would play him in a movie: Pete Postlethwaite.
14. Pat Jennings
There’s only one way to explain just how good Pat Jennings was:
He won four major trophies with Tottenham Hotspur.
The club’s only won five more since he left in 1977.
Fun fact: His son, Pat Jennings Jr., was also a goalkeeper (a pretty bad one to be honest) and he deputised for David Forde in goal for Derry City in the 2006 League Cup final win over Shelbourne at the Brandywell. I was there. It was one of the best games I’ve ever been to.
Actor who would play him in a movie: Liam Neeson.
13. Oliver Kahn
As a seven-year-old watching the 2002 FIFA World Cup I was absolutely terrified of Oliver Kahn. He screamed constantly, he was built like a heavyweight boxer, and was basically unbeatable in goal.
It was at that World Cup that he cemented his place in every ‘best goalkeepers of all time’ list that will ever be written, as he became the only goalkeeper in history to win the Golden Ball award.
Fun fact: He doesn’t like Jens Lehmann.
Actor who would play him in a movie: Dolph Lundgren.
12. Walter Zenga
Walter Zenga is by no means the most complete goalkeeper on this list – he wasn’t the greatest at saving penalties, he struggled when coming out to deal with corners, etc. – but he is undoubtedly the best ‘on the line’ goalkeeper ever.
When directly between the posts, Zenga just did not concede goals. He was too quick, too agile, too explosive, too powerful, too bloody good.
Fun fact: Zenga’s most recent wedding was streamed live to 10,000 viewers on his YouTube channel.
Actor who would play him in a movie: M
11. Edwin van der Sar
Edwin van der Sar once went 1,311 minutes without conceding a single goal – a world league football record.
That’s why he’s 11th on this list.
Fun fact: He really can’t dance.
Actor who would play him in a movie: John Turturro.
10. Peter Shilton
Peter Shilton played the first professional game of his career in 1965, and the last in 1997. Which is fairly astonishing.
And what’s even more astonishing is that throughout the bulk of that 30 year career he was the best goalkeeper in England.
At the peak of his powers in the late 70s, Shilton lifted the European Cup with Nottingham Forest (yes, Nottingham Forest) in two consecutive seasons. That’s also astonishing.
Fun fact: He really hates Diego Maradona.
Actor who would play him in a movie: Michael Caine.
9. Manuel Neuer
There’s been plenty of goalkeepers who have been good with the ball at their feet ‘for a goalkeeper’, but there’s only ever been one Manuel Neuer. A goalkeeper so good with the ball that Pep Guardiola had to be talked out of playing him in midfielder (seriously).
Put simply, Neuer has been so good in the ‘sweeper keeper’ role that he’s changed all expectations of goalkeepers, and all perceptions of goalkeepers.
A bonafide game changer.
Fun fact: His favourite band is U2.
Actor who would play him in a movie: August Diehl
8. Michel Preud’homme
‘How the hell do you say that name?’
Yes, that’s what I thought the first time I saw his name too.
Pronounced ‘Prood-hom’, Michel
Actor who would play him in a movie: Jean-Claude Van Damme.
7. Iker Casillas
Yes, Iker Casillas captained his country to World Cup triumph.
Yes, Iker Casillas is the best goalkeeper in his country’s history.
Yes, Iker Casillas won absolutely everything at Real Madrid.
But the main reason Iker Casillas is so high on this list is because of that time a Sporting Gijon fan threw an object at him that he dodged and casually caught with one hand.
Actor who would play him in a movie: Antonio Banderas.
6. Sepp Maier
Right, let’s run through everything that Sepp ‘The Cat’ Maier won during his playing career with both Bayern Munich and West Germany:
– Four Bundesliga titles.
– Four DFB-Pokals.
– Three European Cups.
– One Cup Winners’ Cup.
– One Intercontinental Cup.
– One FIFA World Cup.
– One European Championships.
– Three German Footballer of the Year awards.
Of course he’s this high on this list!
Fun fact: He was actually hilarious.
Actor who would play him in a movie: Gene Wilder.
5. Gordon Banks
Into the top five now, and onto the goalkeeper who made the single greatest save in the history of mankind.
‘WHAT A SAVE! GORDON BANKS!’
You know the one.
Here’s Banks describing the save in his own words: “Jairzinho lifts it to the centre of the goal, I race from my near post to the centre of my goal. Never ever, did I stand on my line in normal play, I always stood two or three yards in front of it for one reason: if I had to reach back for the ball it would be over the line.
“First of all, I’ve got to wait for him [Pele] to head it. Now once he’s punched it, I know it’s going just inside the right hand post. Here’s where the hardest part of the save was. If I had’ve dived straight across I wasn’t going to get, because it was going to bounce about a yard just in front of my dive. So now, I know that I’ve got to get across there quickly and at the same time anticipate how high the ball is going to bounce up off the hard surface and then reach back and get my hand to it – which I did do.
“But it hits the top of my hand and goes up, and honest to God I thought it was a goal…then I seen the ball bouncing behind the goal. And I said to myself: ‘Banksy, you lucky sh*t'”.
Fun fact: Banks made a generous donation to
Actor who would play him in a movie: Tom Courtenay.
4. Dino Zoff
The original Gianluigi Buffon, Dino Zoff has in many ways been surpassed by his heir, but that’s not to say he wasn’t an astonishing goalkeeper in his own right. Because bah gawd he was.
Most fondly remembered as the 40-year-old captain of Italy’s 1982 World Cup winning side, Zoff was one of the most consistent goalkeepers of all time.
Always a fantastic competitor, an immense leader, and one the great football men in Italian history.
Fun fact: Once went two full years without conceding a goal at international level.
Actor who would play him in a movie: Gregory Peck.
3. Peter Schmeichel
One of my earliest football memories is watching a VHS title ‘Peter Schmeichel: Definitely the Best Goalkeeper in the World’, and since then I’ve been pretty sure of the fact that the ‘Great Dane’ was the best goalkeeper of the 1990s by an absolute mile.
Forwards were terrified of him, his teammates respected him, and when Manchester United needed him to pull them out of a hole he would with fantastic save, after fantastic save, after fantastic save.
Without Schmeichel, it’s hard to imagine that Man Utd would have dominated English football throughout the 90s.
Fun fact: Signed his first professional football contract at 23.
Actor who would play him in a movie: Kevin Costner.
2. Lev Yashin
The only player on this list to have won the Ballon d’Or, Lev Yashin is widely as the greatest goalkeeper of all time…but not by us. He is second on this list though, which is still pretty damn impressive.
The man who saved over 150 penalties throughout his professional career, kept over 270 clean sheets and won FIFA’s Goalkeeper of the Century award is one of the most important footballers of all time because, well, he pretty much invented goalkeeping.
Fun fact: He worked as a locksmith before becoming a professional footballer.
Actor who would play him in a movie: Marlon Brando.
1. Gianluigi Buffon
Here he is: the GOAT of GOAT goalkeepers.
The greatest goalkeeper of all time.
And Gigi is 90min’s greatest goalkeeper of all time because no goalkeeper has been as good for as long, well, ever.
His peak came at the 2006 World Cup where he conceding just two goals on route to Italy’s fourth triumph, and at his absolute lowest ebb, he was still one of the three best in the world.
Still playing at the age of 42 and not really looking past it quite yet, Buffon is a remarkable athlete, a remarkable leader, a remarkable winner.
The best of the very best.
Fun fact: He has his own wine business which sells a wine called “Buffon
Actor who would play him in a move: Robert Downey, Jr.