Our Greatest Goalies of all time! At Football Mania Live we have been busy working on our ‘Greatest Goalies Ever’ exhibit and as a result have been looking at lots of statistics, data, polls and opinions as well as researching and reviewing the careers of some of the biggest stars of football that play in the most specialised position in the sport who’s main role is to stop the opposing team from scoring.
It has been an almost impossible task comparing these legends, heroes and icons of the sport as they have each played for different leagues, had amazing international careers and some have even played in different sporting eras but their impeccable records, awards, accolades and achievements speak for themselves.
There are many more ‘goalkeeper greats’ we could include but have narrowed our focus by selecting one keeper from each of the major European footballing nations that had significant club and international careers representing their respective countries. There is one notable upset with no representation from France, instead we have the big Dane in our top 5! Here we have ranked our Top 10 goal keepers of all time with a detailed account of each of our Top 5 Greatest Goalies Ever!... 1. Gianluigi Buffon - Italy Italian professional footballer who now captains and plays as goalkeeper for the Serie B club Parma where he started his professional career back in 1995 where he made his Serie A debut.
Buffon is widely regarded as one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time, he is one of the few players to have racked up over 1,100 professional career appearances. Buffon played for some of the biggest clubs in the world – Parma (1995-2001), Juventus (2001-2018), Paris Saint Germain (2018-2019) Juventus (2019-2021) and then his return to Parma in 2021.
Buffon signed for Juventus in 2001 for the world record fee for a goalkeeper of 52m Euros. He won Serie A titles in both of his first two seasons going on to win a record 9 x Serie A titles with Juventus as well as 4 x Coppa Italia’s and 5 x Supercoppa Italiana’s. Buffon was the first goalkeeper to win the Serie A Goalkeeper of the year a record 12 times! More accolades and awards were to come winning the inaugural ‘The Best FIFA Goalkeeper’ award.
After 17 years with Juventus, Buffon signed with PSG in 2018 at the age of 40 where he won the Trophee des Champions and the Ligue 1 title before returning back to Juventus. In June 2021 Buffon moved back to his boyhood club Parma.
Buffon’s International career saw him become the most capped player in the history of the Italy National Team and the 7th most capped player of all time! He has featured in a record 5 FIFA World Cup Tournaments (1998, 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014) and was the starting goalkeeper that won the 2006 World Cup Tournament and being awarded the Golden Glove.
Buffon also represented Italy in 4 European Championships and 2 FIFA Confederation Cups.
Pele named Buffon in the FIFA 100 list of the worlds greatest living players in 2004 and among many other accolades and awards the IFFHS named Buffon the Best Goalkeeper of the 21st Century! 2. Iker Casillas - Spain Spanish former professional footballer who played as goalkeeper and now works as a football commentator. Dubbed ‘San Iker’ (Saint Iker) for his ability to produce spectacular saves Casillas is widely considered to be one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time. Known for his athleticism, quick reactions and outstanding shot-stopping ability – he spent the majority of his career at Real Madrid (1999-2015). Casillas is one of the few players to achieve over 1000 professional career appearances and holds the record for the most clean sheets in the UEFA Champions League as well as Spain’s National Team.
Having started his career with Real Madrid Youth he gained promotion to the main team in 1999 where he became the youngest goalkeeper to play in the final of the Champions League and to win the title at just 19 years and 4 days of age.
With Real Madrid Casillas won all major club titles including 5 la Liga titles, 4 Supercopa de Espana titles, 2 Copa del Rey titles, 3 UEFA Champions Leagues, 2 UEFA Super Cups and 2 Intercontinental Cups AND the FIFA Worlds Cup in 2010!
Casillas joined FC Porto in 2015 where he won the Primeira Liga and the Supertaca Candido de Olivieira title. He made 116 appearances for Porto before retiring from football in February 2020.
In his International career Casillas earned 167 international Caps and has the second most appearances for the Spain National Team making him the joint 10th most capped player of all time. In 2008 he captained his team leading them to the European Championship title that year and went on to lead Spain to their first World Cup win in 2010 where he kept a record 5 clean sheets. 3. Manuel Neuer - Germany German professional footballer plays as goalkeeper and captains both his club – Bayern Munich and the German national team. Widely regarded as one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time and described as the a ‘sweeper keeper’ due to his style of play and speed when rushing off his line anticipating opponents and going out of the box.
He was named best goalkeeper of the decade from 2011 – 2020 by the IFFHS.
Neuer started his club career at Schalke 04 before being signed by Bundesliga giant Bayern Munich in 2011 where he has won 28 trophies including 10 Bundesliga titles and 2 UEFA Champions League Titles in 2013 and 2020 both, incredibly, as part of ‘trebles’.
In 2014 Neuer came a close third for the Ballon d’Or award behind Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. He has been awarded the UEFA Goalkeeper of the year and the IFFHS World’s Best Goalkeeper five times each.
Neuer was called up for his National Team as Germany’s number one goalkeeper for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. 4 years later Neuer won the 2014 FIFA World Cup with Germany as well as being awarded the Golden Glove for being the best goalkeeper in the tournament.
Neuer has been showered with accolades and awards throughout his career in recognition of his ability, performance and achievements which include German Footballer of the Year 2011 and 2014, IFFHS World’s best Goalkeeper in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and again in 2020. He was voted best European goalkeeper 5 times in 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2020 and more recently Best FIFA Men’s Goalkeeper 2020! 4. Peter Schmeichel - Denmark The Danish ex-professional footballer is arguably considered the greatest goalkeeper of the English Premier League and regarded by many as one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time. During 8 seasons at Manchester United (1991-1999) he captained the club to victory in the 1999 UEFA Champions League Final to complete the Treble. He also won the UEFA European Championship in 1992 with his Country Denmark which he represented from 1987-2001.
Unusually for a goalkeeper he has scored 11 goals during his career including 1 for his national team.
Schmeichel is the most capped player for the Denmark national team boasting 129 appearances in total. In addition to Euro ’92 he also played for his country in the 1998 FIFA World Cup and three further European Championships and captained his national team 30 times.
Schmeichel’s career lasted from 1981 until 2003 and yielded 24 trophies. He was voted the IFFHS World’s Best Goalkeeper in 1992 and 1993 and ranked among the top 10 goalkeepers of the 20th century.
Schmeichel was inducted in to the English Football Hall of Fame in March 2004 and was named as one of the 125 greatest living footballers at the FIFA 100 celebrations. More recently he has been included in the Premier League Hall of Fame in 2022. 5. Gordon Banks – England Ex professional footballer who is widely regarded as one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time. Banks made 679 appearances during his 20 year professional career and won 73 cap for England including the remarkable record of starting every game of the nation’s 1966 World Cup victory.
Banks started his career for Chesterfield in 1958 before being signed by Leicester City in 1959 where he stayed until 1967 during which time he played in four cup finals for the club including winning the League Cup in 1964. Banks moved to Stoke City in 1967.
Banks again featured in the 1970 World Cup and made one of the greatest saves of all time to prevent a Pele goal. Banks, at full stretch, tipped a header from Pele over the bar.
Banks won the 1972 League Cup with Stoke City – the clubs only major honour and was named FWA Footballer of the Year the same year.
Banks was named FIFA Goalkeeper of the Year on six occasions (1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1979 and 1971). The IFFHS named Banks the second-best goalkeeper of the 20th Century after Russian Lev Yashin.
Banks was awarded the OBE in 1970 and was later inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in 2002. When we extend our list to make the Top 10 goal keepers of all time it looks like this; 6. Sepp Maier – German 7. Petr Cech - Czechoslovakia 8. Peter Shilton – England 9. Edwin Van Der Sar – Netherlands 10. Pat Jennings – Northern Ireland
Sorry, still no representation from France!