The Best Goalkeepers of All Time    

Every decade we have had some stellar keepers. It is difficult to single one out. But we will do it. There will always be that one guy that will stand out from the rest. 

Goalkeepers have always been one of the most important players in a team. It’s just unfair to them that they get sidelined in most of the important awards. Lev Yashin is the only prestigious award these keepers can win in all likelihood because footballer of the year awards whether it’s the Ballon d’Or or the UEFA Men’s Player of the Year award, usually go to the outfield players


Gianluigi Buffon  

Gigi Buffon, the creme de la creme. What a keeper. Buffon has had a fulfilling career. Gigi has made over 1100 professional career appearances. He also holds the record for having the most Serie A appearances by a player.   

Buffon signed for Juventus from Parma for €52 million. 

Imagine the faith Juve had in him. It all paid off handsomely. From season 1, he was a huge hit. In total, Buffon won 10 League titles with Juventus. His stellar performances made Juventus a juggernaut.

It’s not the honors though that Buffon is so revered in Turin. It’s his loyalty to the club. Juventus were relegated to Serie B after the Calciopoli Scandal in 2006 and despite the majority of the star players abandoning the ship and leaving Juve, Buffon stayed and helped the club to gain promotion and then established them as a powerhouse once again. Now at Parma, Buffon has finally decided to hang up his boots after this year at the grand old age of 45. 

At International level, Buffon won the World Cup with Italy in 2006. Winning the greatest trophy a football player could ever win put Buffon on the list of the greatest of all time. 

Iker Casillas

Arguably the greatest shot-stopper the football world has ever seen? He is definitely up there.  

Iker Casillas Fernández is regarded as one of the best goalkeepers in history, and his stunning reflex saves have given him the moniker “San Iker” (Saint Iker). His athleticism and good reaction timing made him the most skilled football shot-stopper in the world. 

Casillas made a name for himself very early into his Real Madrid career, having won the Champions League twice in three years. He also managed to win the La Liga 5 times.  

If you ever wanted to see how good Casillas was as a shot-stopper, watch the game against Liverpool at Anfield in 2007. Despite a 4-0 loss, Casillas made some blinding saves to keep the scoreline respectable. He was also named Madrid’s Man of the Match. An incredible player with incredible quality.

Casillas left Madrid for Porto where he played over 150 games for the club before eventually retiring in 2020. 

Casillas appeared in 167 games for Spain, where he won the football World Cup in 2010 and the European Championship twice in 2008 & 2012.    

Presently the Real Madrid legend is working as a deputy to the Real Madrid Foundation CEO. 

Manuel Neuer 

We saw two of the greatest goalkeepers of all time in the 21st century above. Manu Neuer IS the greatest goalkeeper of all time in the 21st century. It is not an exaggeration, it is a fact. If you are making a goalkeeper from scratch, then you are making a Neuer for your team. 

A goalkeeper so perfect that it is tough to make out what his actual weaknesses are. Neuer has it all. Safe pair of hands, best sweeper in the game, has great distribution from the back, is a leader in the team, and is an excellent shot-stopper.  

Neuer began his career at Schalke and he was pretty much a world-class goalkeeper from day one there. Looking back you could say he single-handedly kept Schalke relevant in the mid-to-late 2000s. Despite winning only a DFB Pokal with Schalke he was already on his to greatness. 

Joining Bayern Munich in 2011 was the turning point in Neuer’s career. He went from world-class to a bonafide great and a living legend of the game here. He kept winning and winning and winning at Bayern. He also kept performing at the highest level every single season. 

Manu is one of the few goalkeepers to ever step on the podium of the Ballon d’Or as a goalkeeper when he came third in 2014. Neuer has won the double, treble, and sextuple at Bayern all while putting on a masterclass for a goalkeeper every season. A true great. 

Neuer broke another German great Oliver Kahn’s record of 204 clean sheets in the Bundesliga in 2021 when he surpassed it to get to 205 clean sheets. 

At International level, Neuer has represented Germany 117 times and has played in record 4 World Cups, winning one in 2014. He has also appeared for Germany in multiple European Championships as well.    

Lev Yashin

How can you have a list of goalkeepers and not include the Black Spider in it? Lev Yashin is the only goalkeeper in history to win the prestigious Ballon d’Or in 1963. Yashin spent all of his domestic playing career at Dynamo Moscow. 

Lev Yashin is 2nd on the list for most appearances for Dynamo Moscow as he represented the Soviet Union side 326 times. He won 5 league titles and 3 Soviet Cups with them and even represented the Dynamo Ice Hockey team when he was unable to break into the team early in his career, Not only that he won the USSR ice hockey cup in 1953 as well!  

But it was the Black Spider’s international career that made him the legend of the game. Yashin appeared in 3 World Cups for the Soviet Union. His best campaign for the national side was in his last campaign in 1966 in England when the Soviet Union finished in 4th position. 

Yashin added another feather to his cap when he went on to lift the inaugural European Championship in 1960, he was also a runner-up with the Soviet Union in the 1964 edition. His international pedigree remained unmatched for quite a few years. 

Lev Yashin’s great performances both domestically and internationally earned him the Ballon d’Or trophy in 1963. He was also nominated two times, in 1961 and 1962. 

Oliver Kahn  

Before there was Neuer, there was Oliver Kahn. A dominant goalkeeper. If looks could define greatness then Kahn had that. He was not only a world-class goalkeeper but he looked menacing as well.  

We don’t think we have ever seen the West German smile. Ever. But all jokes aside he was as complete a goalkeeper as you could come across. Great reflexes, was a great leader, a great shot-stopper, and a commanding presence in the goal. 

Kahn won 8 Bundesliga titles and 6 DFB Pokal with Bayern Munich. He also went on to make 429 appearances for Bayern Munich. Oliver Kahn also managed to win 1 Champions League and 1 UEFA Cup with Bayern. Vol-kahn-o(Volcano) as he was fondly called by the fans is one of the most successful German players of all time.

Oliver Kahn was part of the German National squad that won the 1996 European Championship. Kahn starred for Germany in the 2002 World Cup in Korea and Japan. He conceded only three goals in the tournament with 2 coming in the final. 

Kahn was so influential during the tournament that he won the Lev Yashin Goalkeeper of the Tournament as well as the Golden Ball for the Player of the Tournament. He remains the only goalkeeper to win the Golden Ball in World Cup history. 

Petr Cech 

I mean conceding just 15 league goals in arguably the toughest league in the World should get some recognition, doesn’t it? Petr Cech changed the game for goalkeepers in the Premier League after he signed for Chelsea in 2004.   

The Czech International joined the Chelsea revolution in 2004 and he was part of the defence that kept 24 clean sheets in a single season, a record that still stands today. Cech went on to win back-to-back golden gloves after he kept another 22 clean sheets the following year. 

Cech even managed to overcome a potential career-ending injury to go on to win another two league titles at Chelsea. He also won 4 FA Cups and 3 League Cups with them. The Czech was also heavily influential for Chelsea winning their first European Cup in 2011. 

Cech was a sensational shot-stopper with great reflexes and his tall, agile frame helped him move quickly in the box. He is already regarded as one of the greatest ever players to play in the Premier League. Cech also managed to play for cross-city rivals Arsenal but with relatively less success. 

Petr Cech made 124 appearances for the Czech Republic. His greatest tournament for the national side was his first tournament with them – the 2004 European Championship. The Czech Republic made it all the way to the semis of the tournament and lost to the eventual winner Greece. Cech was named Goalkeeper of the tournament and also made the Team of the Tournament.  

Peter Schmeichel

The Great Dane is easily the fiercest goalkeeper on our list. An absolute genius between the post and an absolute maniac as well. But that is what makes him one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time. 

Schmeichel also has a good track record of scoring goals too! He is no Rogerio Ceni but 11 career goals as a goalkeeper is pretty darn good. 

Peter Schmeichel’s arrival at Manchester United coincided with United’s most successful period ever. He had a trophy-laden career at Manchester United with the most memorable season being the treble-winning season in 1999.  

Peter Schmeichel was a heavily influential player for Denmark as well. He was one of the key reasons Denmark won the 1992 European Championship as the underdogs. He saved a Marco van Basten penalty in the semi-final shootout against the Netherlands and then kept a clean sheet in the final against Germany to lift the trophy. 

Schmeichel’s style of play was very intense. His large frame and great shot-stopping ability were a great asset as well as his leadership qualities. He often got into heated arguments with his own teammates. Schmeichel was a winner and he did not take kindly to mistakes which is why he continuously butted heads with his own teammates and opposition. 

Dino Zoff

Legendary. Longevity. Class act. Dino Zoff is the greatest Italian goalkeeper of all time, sorry Gig Buffoni but facts are facts! Zoff is the only Italian player to win both the World Cup and the European Championship. He achieved both these things 14 years apart! 

Although Zoff started his career at Udinese and then moved to Mantvoa and later to Napoli, it is at Juventus where he attained most of his domestic success. Zoff won 6 Serie A titles, 2 Coppa Italia, and 1 UEFA Cup.  

Zoff won both the World Cup and European Championship with Italy. He is the oldest player ever to win the World Cup at 40 years and 133 days. Dino Zoff won the Goalkeeper of the Tournament at both the World Cup and the European Championship.   

In 1973, Dino Zoff came second only to another legendary player Johan Cruyff in the race for the Ballon d’Or.  

Zoff was known for his exceptional positioning and leadership as a goalkeeper. 

Thibaut Courtois 

A serial winner at every club he has been to. A living legend. Courtois is one of the finest goalkeepers of the 21st century. 

Courtois started his career at Genk where he established himself as the no.1 early in his career. He won the league title with Genk before moving to Chelsea, but as Cech was still the undisputed no.1 there, he moved on loan to Atletico for three years. 

Courtois won the La Liga, Copa del Rey, and Europa League, and also reached the final of the Champions League with Atletico. His form prompted Chelsea to bring him back to Stamford Bridge and make him their no.1. He won two league titles and an EFL Cup with Chelsea. 

Courtois then moved to Real Madrid where he is still plying his trade. He has won 2 La Liga titles with them but his legendary career peaked when he won the Man of the Match performance in the 2021 Champions League final against Liverpool. Without him, Liverpool would have easily won the final but Courtois made one stunning save after another to hand the title to Real Madrid. 

Courtois currently has 102 caps for Belgium with his best performance coming in the 2018 World Cup when Belgium with its golden generation finished third. The only underwhelming achievement of his career. 

Gordon Banks

That save against Pele in the 1970 World Cup. Banks had a legendary international career and he won the World Cup with England in 1966 at Wembley, but Banks will forever be known for his legendary save to deny Pele. The ball was in! But then it was not. Banks plucked the ball out with great reflexes. Such a great moment.

Gordon Banks is one of those rare players who had a better international career than domestic. He started his career at Chesterfield, then moved to Leicester City and then to Stoke City. Despite several good personal seasons, Banks barely won anything at club level. He has only two League Cups to show for his efforts.  

Gordon Banks was ranked the 2nd best goalkeeper of the 20th Century by IFFHS, only behind the great Lev Yashin. Banks was never a flashy goalkeeper but his positioning and calm demeanor at the back stabilized the defence. His quick reflexes were his greatest trait.  

Alisson Becker

Why not? Alisson is one of the key reasons for Liverpool’s revival in recent years. He has been one of the most influential signings in the 21st Century that a club has ever made. He is the reason Liverpool broke their 30-year barren spell without a league title. 

What a keeper. He is probably the best in the business currently when it comes to positioning. We talked about Gordon Banks’ positioning, Alisson is right up there with him. He never has to make spectacular saves to look good, he is always there in great positions to sweep up the danger. 

Alisson is the most complete goalkeeper there is today. He has great reflexes, he is great at sweeping, great at claiming crosses, and great at reading the game ahead of him. But he is clutch as anything as well. The Liverpool and Brazil no.1 scored a goal that got Liverpool a top-4 position and he has assisted a goal every season for Liverpool bar one season. Complete package.  

Alisson has won the lot with Liverpool. He has 1 League title, 1 Champions League, 1 FA Cup, 1 League Cup, 1 UEFA Super Cup, and 1 Club World Cup. He has won every trophy available to win at club level. Alisson also starred for Brazil as they won the 2019 Copa America.