Considered by many to be the greatest goalkeeper of all time, Gordon Banks will forever be remembered for his save from Pele's header during the 1970 World Cup Finals. Yet those who saw Banks play knew he was capable of repeating such a feat on a cold December afternoon when all that was at stake was two points. He wasn't just great - he was consistently on top of his game and a Banks mistake was very rare indeed.
Yet but for a quirk of fate, he may neve have turned professional in the first place. Having been dropped by Sheffield Schoolboys, Banks had left full-time education in 1952 and had drifted out of the game. However, one afternoon he went along to watch local amateur side Millspaugh in action and was asked to play in goal after being spotted in the crowd because their regular keeper failed to turn up for the game. His performances for the club led to him being spotted and signed by Chesterfield, setting him on the path of World Cup glory.
First capped at the age of 25, he 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's records. The goalkeeper still holds the England record of seven clean sheets in a row, which was finally ended by Eusebio's late penalty in the semi-finals of the 1966 World Cup, and played in 23 consecutive internationals without defeat between 1964-67. And of course, he is still the only English goalkeeper ever to win a World Cup Winners medal.
However, Gordon Banks's success on the international stage was not mirrored domestically. After winning the League Cup with Leicester City in 1964, he seemed destined to miss out on further Cup glory until finally winning the League Cup with Stoke City in 1972, having twice been a losing FA Cup and a League Cup Finalist with the Foxes 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.
A genuine legend of the game.
Famed for always wearing a distinctive all-black strip when playing (although initially, his kit was a very dark blue), Lev Yashin is one of the few keepers who could genuinely challenge Gordon Banks for the title of greatest goalkeeper of all-time.
He made an unprecedented contribution to the game, going on to inspire future generations of goalkeepers, and challenged many of the traditional attitudes towards goalkeeping that were prevalent 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, he had no qualms in doing so.
A great athlete - he first found fame playing ice hockey and won the Soviet title in 1953! - Yashin displayed great courage between the sticks and possessed stunning reflexes and a flexibility that made him almost flawless. He was also credited with revolutionising the role of the goalkeeper, acting as an extra defender when required and by starting dangerous counter-attacks with his positioning and quick throws, rather than simply launching the ball down field.
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, attending a fourth in 1970 as one of the back-up keepers in Mexico. In 1956 he was a member of the Soviet team that won Olympic Gold in Melbourne and four years later he won the inaugural European Championship title with the USSR, picking up a runners-up medal four years later. Domestically, he only ever played for one club - Dynamo Moscow - where he won five league championships and three Cup titles, although legend has it that he conceded a soft goal scored straight from a clearance by his opposite number on his debut in a friendly in 1950.
In 1963 Lev Yahsin was voted European Footballer of the Year and remains the only goalkeeper to have ever won the honour. He was awarded 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.
One of the great, driven players, Peter Shilton set out to become the best goalkeeper of all time. Legend has it that on being told he might not make the grade because he wasn't tall enough, Shilton went home and began a training regime that involved spending hours at a time hanging from the stairs in attempt to add inches to his frame. He wanted it that badly.
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 for the Third Place play-off vs. Italy 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. He went 499 - some say 500 - minutes without conceding a goal, overtaken only by Italy's Walter Zenga.
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.
Domestically, he won the League title with Nottingham Forest in 1978 and also enjoyed a couple of League Cup triumphs. He won two European Cups during his spell at the City Ground 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.
But for England managers Don Revie, who only picked him three times, and Ron Greenwood, who employed an oddball rotation when it came to selecting either him or his great rival Ray Clemence, who knows how many caps Shilton could have won. One of the true greats.
Born in Bremen, Germany, Bert Trautmann overcame prejudice and open hostility - from both opposition supporters and his own - to become an unlikely folk hero in post-war Manchester. His route to Maine Road was even more unlikely.
His early life was spent growing up in a world of hyperinflation and the Hitler Youth. He was enlisted into the Wehrmacht at the outbreak of the Second World War and had an eventful campaign to say the least. Having initially been a paratrooper, he was court martialled after a practical joke behind the lines went wrong and ended up serving a three-month prison sentence. Eventually promoted to the rank of Feldwebel (sergeant), he fought on the Eastern Front, faced the Allies at Normandy and Arnhem, was buried under rubble in a cellar for three days and won five medals, including the Iron Cross (First Class). He was captured by the Russians and escaped, then captured by the Free French and escaped, also captured by the Americans and escaped before finally being captured by the British - who greeted him with the immortal line "Hello Fritz, fancy a cup of tea?"!
He eventually ended up at POW Camp 50 at Ashton-in-Makerfield where he saw out the last days of the war and enjoyed the odd football match. 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 his performances in the Lancashire Combination League first attracted the attentions of Manchester City.
Trautmann moved to City in 1949 but, unsurprisingly, the talented young keeper was not an instant crowd favourite. There was outrage from City fans and people throughout the country concerning the signing of a German player. There were threats of boycotts and letters of disapproval all arising from Trautmann's arrival at City. But he overcame these odds to become a legend at the Maine Road club and earn the respect of the football community.
He quickly established himself as one of the best goalkeepers in the country and would make 545 appearances in total for Man City. By 1952, his reputation was such that Schalke 04 sought to bring him back home to West Germany by offering City £1,000 for his services, but the club turned down the offer, believing Trautmann to be worth "twenty times more". He went to play in the 1955 FA Cup Final, becoming the first German to do so, but City lost 3-1 to Newcastle United. However, the following year Trautmann cemented his place in folklore when he broke his neck in a challenge with Birmingham City's Peter Murphy 15 minutes from time. He continued to play on, despite being in visible discomfort, and three days later it was discovered that he had dislocated five vertebrae, one of which was cracked in two. His efforts that season earned him the league's Player of the Year award, the first goalkeeper to win the award.
Trautmann was rewarded for his long and dedicated service to City with a testimonial, which saw a record 60,000 people attend and after his playing days were over he tried his hand at management with Stockport County before fulfilling a role as an overseas coach for the same German FA that had refused to pick him for their national side because he had the audacity to become a professional footballer (professionalism was still outlawed in Germany during the 1950s).
Born Josef-Dieter Maier, "Sepp" Maier began his footballing career at his local club, TSV Haar, but moved to Bayern Munich before he played he a senior game. He would stay in Munich for nineteen successful years, barely missing a game during this period, and between 1966 and 1977 he played almost 400 consecutive games.
In 1966 he went to the World Cup finals in England as back-up to first choice Hans Tilkowski and despite failing to make an appearance as the Germans reached the final, he went on to establish himself as West Germany's first choice keeper four years later and played a major part as the Germans reached the semi-finals, only to lose to Italy in extra time.
Two years later he picked up his first international honour when West Germany won the European Championships and in 1974 he had his finest hour when West Germany hosted and won the World Cup, beating Holland in a tight final. He also enjoyed considerable success at club level during this period and was part of the Bayern Munich side that won three straight European Cups plus a World Club Cup and the UEFA Cup Winners Cup in 1968. Domestically, Maier won both the Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal four times but surprisingly failed to pick up another medal after 1976.
Nicknamed "Die Katze von Anzing (the cat from Anzing), Maier was a favourite with the Munich crowd and often played in distinctive long, black shorts. But his popularity stretched further afield and he won the German Player of the Year award three times to add to the Golden Glove he won after West Germany's victory in '74.
By the time the 1978 World Cup finals came around, Helmut Schön's side were no longer the force they once were and were eliminated in the second phase. This was to be Maier's last big tournament as a car accident in 1979 ended his career at the age of 35. Having won almost a century of caps for his country and 13 major trophies with Bayern Munich, he later joined the coaching staff both at Bayern and the German national team before retiring from the game.
In an era when being a goalkeeper was a far more hazardous occupation than it is now, Kelsey stood out amongst the crowd. A former steelworker from Wales, the Wales international had the necessary physique and bravery to hold his own against the likes of Nat Lofthouse and other centre forwards who thought nothing of barging a goalkeeper into the back of the net.
He joined Arsenal in the late Forties after being spotted playing for Winch Wen in his native Wales by former Gunner Les Morris and remained with the club for the rest of his career. He was famed for having a pair of hands "the size of dinner plates" and for rubbing chewing gum into his palms before each match to the help the ball stick - it must of helped because his handling was second to none. Although Kelsey was of a more rugged build than most, there was more to his game than brawn. His positional sense was ahead of its time and he commanded his area like no other. He was also prepared to venture beyond his penalty box to clear up any potential threat from the opposition - something that was unheard of at the time.
Unfortunately for Kelsey, he played at a time when Arsenal were rather a nondescript outfit and his only domestic honour was the League Championship in 1953. He excelled on the international stage, though, and won 41 caps for Wales - a British record for a goalkeeper at the time. He also played in the 1958 World Cup finals, where he helped his side reach the quarter-finals before going out to the eventual winners Brazil in a close fought contest. In addition to this, he represented Great Britain in an exhibition match against the rest of Europe in 1955 and was selected to play for London in the Inter Cities Fairs Cup - the forerunner of the UEFA Cup - a year later.
His career was cut short however by a back injury sustained in an international against Brazil in 1962. Despite a couple of attempts at a comeback, he was forced to hang up his gloves but he remained at Highbury, were he continued to work for Arsenal Football Club behind the scenes as their commercial manager in later years. He died in 1992.
Legend has it, that when Neville Southall 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%.
A former hod-carrier and dustman in Llandudno, Southall began life as a centre half. He was good enough to have trials with Crewe Alexandra and Bolton Wanderers but never made the grade. Instead, he went between the posts for Llandudno Swifts and quickly moved up the football ladder. After brief spells with Conway United and Bangor City, he joined non-league Winsford where he was spotted by Bury, who paid £6000 for his services.
After just 39 games for the Shakers, Southall was snapped up by Everton, completing an amazing transformation - in just less than two years, he had gone from working on a building site to playing First Division football. For the next sixteen years he would remain the Toffees' first-choice keeper, experiencing all their highs and lows.
The honours came thick and fast during those early days. Everton were experiencing something of a revival under Howard Kendall and within the space of three won the League, FA Cup and the Cup Winners' Cup. Indeed, Southall was voted Player of the Year in 1985 when the Blues won the championship but the Heysel disaster cut short Everton's dominance as the team broke up. And while others went on to enjoy big money moves to the continent, Southall stayed behind, clocking up the appearances.
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.
Southall played over 700 times for Everton - a club record - and was the first player to make 200 appearances in the Premiership. As he matured with age, many expected him to retire gracefully, but Big Nev confounded the critics and just kept on going, adding a second FA Cup winners medal to his collection in 1995. But time soon caught up with Southall. After loan spells with Southend United and Stoke City, plus a spell with Torquay United, he finally retired before making a comeback for Bradford City at the ripe old age of 42 in the Premiership!
Leigh Richmond Roose didn't have to be a goalkeeper. The boy from North Wales was a qualified doctor of bacteriology and was rich enough to once hire his own train to get him to an away game on time. But by the time he died - killed during the First World at the Somme - he created a football legend that survives to this day (examples of which can be found across this site).
During a game he could usually be found leaning casually against the goalpost without a care in the world, as if he was waiting for a bus. Rumour has it that he would occasionally fall asleep if left alone too long. When teammates complained, he tried to stave off sleep by talking to the crowd. He also had a wicked sense of humour and was not adversed to playing the odd practical joke on his colleagues. He once turned up for a game with his hands covered in bandages and insisted he was fit enough to play. Sure enough, once the bandages were off, he gave an assured display between the sticks, proving that there was nothing wrong with his hands in the first place. But it was his handling skills that led to the FA changing the rules of the game. Until Roose came along, goalies had been allowed to handle the ball outside the eighteen-yard box. The Welsh custodian interpreted these rules somewhat differently to other goalkeepers and would regularly carry the ball to the other end of the field.
Roose's jersey was also a subject of mythology. He swore that he could only keep goal in one particular top made by one particular person in one particular way. Having kept goal for seventeen years for a number of clubs, including Aston Villa and Celtic, and played twenty-four times for Wales, his shirt must have been either very worn or incredibly smelly by the end of his career, especially as he insisted on wearing the same undershirt that was never washed it case brought him bad luck.
When he wasn't leaning against the goalposts or testing the sanity of his club colleagues, Roose could be a pretty athletic keeper. Contemporary records show that his 'daring gymnastics in goal' made him 'a hero to every boy in the land'. He was one of the first goalkeeping greats to emerge from the game and his record speaks for itself. He also had an unusual sporting approach to the game. On his debut for Celtic in 1910, he ran up the pitch to shake hands with the scorer of the opposition's third goal. History doesn't record what his team-mates thought of this gentlemanly gesture.
In many ways he was the spiritual ancestor of Bruce Grobbelaar, brilliant but erratic, with the capacity to make you wonder if was actually watching the game. And like that other famously flamboyant Welsh goalie, Neville Southall, he was proof that you didn't have to be miserable to be a keeper! But his most impressive contribution to the evolution of the game was to be one of the few players who've actually managed to get the laws of the game changed.
If ever there was a goalkeeper that could be described as atypical of the breed, it was Pat Jennings. Unorthodox, unflappable, respectable and polite, Jennings commanded his penalty box with an air of nonchalance and calmness that would shame Peter Schmeichel into retirement. Yet despite never receiving any formal kind of coaching - or even because of it - he become one of the greatest goalkeepers the game has ever seen.
Born in Newry, Northern Ireland, Jennings grew up playing Gaelic Football before signing for his local side as a teenager. He first caught the eye playing in a Youth Tournament at Wembley at the age of 17 and was signed by Watford shortly afterwards. His subsequent performances for the Hornets earned him International recognition and a transfer to Tottenham Hotspur in 1964.
There he arguably 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 Finals.
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.
One of the reasons he was so successful was down to the size of his hands - which were as big as a pair of satellite dishes (or thereabouts). His 'Lurgan shovels', as manager Billy Bingham liked to call them, 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.
But it wasn't just about his hands - it was his whole approach to the game. A late starter, his lack of formal training meant he avoided the bad habits and strict codes of conducts of his predecessors, and he broke the mould by willingly using other parts of his body to keep the ball out of the net. 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.
History has been kind to Ray Clemence. Some would say too kind but in 2001, a poll conducted by Total Football placed the former Liverpool and England shot-stopper on top spot, beating the likes of Pat Jennings, Gordon Banks and Peter Shilton. Okay, there's no doubting the guy was a great talent, but he wasn't that good!
That doesn't mean Clemence wasn't a quality goalkeeper. Far from it - 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.
Born in Skegness, Big Clem started out at his home club where he made up the short-fall in his earnings by working as a deck chair attendant in the summer. After a trial with Notts County, he joined Scunthorpe United where he was spotted by Bill Shankly. Shankly knew a bargain when he saw one and paid £18,000 to take him to Liverpool. After a couple of years in the reserves, he displaced Tommy Lawrence as first choice keeper in 1970 and went on to play 665 first team games for the Reds, 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.
While Clemence was winning everything with Liverpool in Europe, England were having a woeful time of it on the international stage. They failed to qualify for the 1974 World Cup Finals in dramatic fashion then didn't even get a chance to turn up at the 1978 Finals after an horrendous start to their qualifying campaign.
However, despite having to compete with the likes of Peter Shilton and Joe Corrigan, Clemence won 61 England caps in total and was the first goalkeeper to captain his country since Frank Swift. Yet he never really achieved much beyond that. Although he went to Spain for the World Cup in 1982, he was no longer first choice and watched the action from the bench. He had better luck in the 1980 European Championships but England once again failed to rise to the occasion and went out in the opening group stages.
Clemence may finally be remembered as the man who deprived Peter Shilton of another few dozen caps, which is unfair but perhaps not completely so. He could have gone to Mexico in 1986, but prematurely decided to retire from the England scene when Bobby Robson took over - a decision that seems even more hasty now in light of Shilton's subsequent achievements and the fact he played in the FA Cup Final a year later with Tottenham Hotspur. But Clem was never ready to be second best, a trait he shared with his rival for all those years and one to be respected.
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 been 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.
He began his career with Manchester City in 1968 yet struggled to establish himself as the club's first choice keeper and was even loaned out to Shrewsbury Town at one point. But he overcame this confidence crisis to blossom into a keeper to rank alongside those other City legends, Frank Swift and Bert Trautmann, and was part of the squad that won the League Championship, UEFA Cup and League Cup.
A giant of a man, he never looked much of an athlete but his 6ft 4ins, 15 stone frame belied a remarkable agility and amazingly quick reflexes. He could dominate games and turn matches, and despite being on the losing side, he was named Man of the Match in the 1981 FA Cup Final replay. He never let his country down neither - big Joe was only ever on the losing side once - and it could be argued that in Corrigan, Shilton and Clemence, England boasted the best trio of goalkeepers ever to appear in a World Cup squad when they lined up for the 1982 finals.
Having played 592 games in 16 seasons, his career at Maine Road came to an untimely and rather messy end when he was sold to the American side Seattle Sounders for a paltry £30,000. Manchester City were going through one of their legendary bouts of madness at the time and manager John Benson, who would be shown the door himself shortly after, decided Corrigan was surplus to retirements. He eventually returned to England and Brighton & Hove Albion before retiring to the more serene life of a goalkeeping coach with Liverpool. City, meanwhile, were to spend much of the 1980s yoyo-ing between the First and Second Division as they struggled to find a replacement for the keeper they had written off only seasons before.
In an era when the England team was selected by an anonymous panel, Ted Ditchburn won a paltry six caps in an international career that spanned eight years. He should have won more. A lot more.
Remarkably, he was capped before and after contemporaries Bert Williams and Gil Merrick, both of whom were selected over twenty times each. Yet despite their shortcomings - Merrick conceded an amazing thirty goals in his last ten games while Williams played in an England side that lost far too many games - Ditchburn often found himself in the international wilderness. The probable reason being that he was far too unorthodox for the selectors liking.
Ted was the goalkeeper's goalkeeper. He stood out amongst the crowd during the 1950s thanks to his physique and fitness, which were the result of serving in the army as a PT instructor. But it wasn't just for his saves that he was so celebrated - Ditchburn was a tactical innovator. In a time when keepers would punt the ball down field as far as possible whenever they go the ball, big Ted opted to roll it out to one of his full-backs, inventing the patient build up in the process.
It doesn't sound particularly revolutionary now, but Ditchburn's plays laid the foundations for manager Arthur Rowe's famous 'push and run' strategy, which moved the emphasis away from route one and towards short, controlled passes. Ditchburn was naturally modest about the whole affair, blaming his "awful kicking" as the real reason behind the switch, but the move paid dividends as Spurs won the Second and First Division titles back-to-back in 1949/50 and 1950/51.
He originally made his debut for Tottenham in 1940 during a wartime league match but had to wait six years for his "official" debut. Despite having lost a large chunk of his career to the War, Ditchburn went on play over 400 games for the White Hart Lane side before retiring after breaking his finger in a game against Chelsea in 1958.
In today's hyped-up football world, the words 'great' and 'legend' are often overused to describe one-footed journeymen who may have popped up to score a vital goal for their club before being transferred to another for more millions than anyone cares to mention. But when it comes to Peter Schmeichel, such tributes are richly deserved for a goalkeeper of truly awesome talent.
Schmeichel may arguably be the greatest goalkeeper the game has ever seen. He certainly was the nosiest. A giant of a man, he appeared to fill the goal when at full stretch and his gigantic frame and enormous physical presence belied a subtle agility which enabled him to produce some remarkable saves, not least against Rapid Vienna in 1996 when he somehow clawed Rene Wagner's header away from the goal-line during a Champions League tie.
What made Schmeichel unique was his style of goalkeeping. His unorthodox approach was a distance cousin of the style of goalkeeping that made Pat Jennings famous and in many ways re-wrote the textbook. He'd used every part of his anatomy to keep the ball out of his net and his quick vision and expert distribution could quickly turn a defensive position into an attack. What's more, he stamped his authority and commanded his area like no goalkeeper before or since and would often give his defence merry hell if the opposition got so much as a weak header on target.
But this approach did wonders for Sir Alex Ferguson's Manchester United and while people were quick to applaud the talents and influence of Eric Cantona, Schmeichel's influence on turning United's fortunes around cannot be underestimated.
If that wasn't enough, there was also an attacking side to his game that racked up an impressive thirteen career goals - including one at international level - and his forays into the opposition's penalty area could lead to all sorts of confusion and indirectly led to Teddy Sheringham's late equaliser against Bayern Munich in the 1999 European Cup Final.
That European title was probably the pinnacle of the Great Dane's career and capped an impressive career with the Old Trafford side that saw him walk away with five Premier League titles, three FA Cup and one Champions League winners' medals to add to the European Championship medal he won with Denmark in 1992.
A true great, the likes of which we may never see again.
Despite making over 700 appearances for Chelsea and picking up seven England caps, Peter Bonetti will always be harshly remembered for one bad game.
Having not played a match for two months, Bonetti was called on to deputise for Gordon Banks, who had been taken ill after drinking a dodgy bottle of beer, in the World Cup Quarter-Final against West Germany and put in a strangely uncertain display which saw the Germans come from 2-0 down to win 3-2. Bonetti was never picked for England again and his reputation has suffered thanks to that performance. But that one game belies the fact that Peter Bonetti was a high-class keeper who would have won more caps but for Banks.
Bonetti was always going to be something special. A stylish keeper, who was easily the most spectacular goalie of his day, he made his debut for Chelsea at the age of 18 after his mother wrote to then manager Ted Drake, requesting that he give her son a trial. He kept a clean sheet and went on to star in the Blues' impressive cup runs in the late 60s, winning the FA Cup, League Cup and Cup Winners' Cup, turning in a brilliant display in the replay win over Real Madrid. 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, and produced a match-winning display against Portugal at Wembley. Such was his reputation that Pele once went on record as saying "The three greatest goalkeepers I have ever seen are Gordon Banks, Lev Yashin and Peter Bonetti."
And who are we to argue with that?
When people look back on David Seaman's career in ten years time, they won't automatically remember the good times - the Championships, FA Cups and European success with Arsenal or the near misses with England. Instead they'll recall the two occasions that he was beaten from long range and the stupid ponytail that he decided to grow before Euro 2000. But that, as they say, is football.
At his peak, 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.
Seaman's rise to the top was progressive rather than overnight. He began his career at Leeds United but was considered surplus to requirements and had spells with Peterborough United and Birmingham City before transferring to Queen's Park Rangers. It was while he was at Loftus Road that he began to attract attention and in 1988 he made his England debut 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 love affair with Arsenal that was last thirteen years.
Seaman's commanding presence and organisational skills were vital to The Gunners' back-line and he became part of the back-bone of the side that went on to lift the League Championship, FA and League Cups before going on to enjoy European success in the Cup Winners' Cup. 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.
Having seen off the challenges of Alex Manninger and Richard Wright at Arsenal, Seaman went on to make the England jersey his own as well. 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.
In the end, his career was neatly book-ended by the aforementioned long-range efforts from Nayim in the 1995 Cup Winners' Cup Final and Ronaldinho in the 2002 World Cup Finals. Nayim's effort seemed to give him the strength and resolve to reach the very peak of the game and in 1996, there were few goalkeepers better than Seaman on the world stage. However, despite his performances against Sweden, Argentina and Demark, people will always remember Ronaldinho's free-kick for Brazil and the finger of blame was - unfairly - pointed at the goalkeeper as England limped out of a World Cup they could've won.
A shoulder injury eventually ended his career in 2003, but by then David Seaman had earned his corn and done enough to be considered a true great, despite that silly ponytail...
Goalkeepers are odd creatures - some of them start off with a bang, others seem to go out with a bang. Ronnie Simpson, on the other hand, decided to do both, in a career that lasted nearly 25 years.
Son of the former Rangers centre-half Jimmy, Ronnie made his first class debut at the age of 14 when he turned out for Queen's Park in the summer of 1945 and stayed with the Glasgow side until the summer of 1950 when he signed professional forms with Third Lanark. By the time he reached twenty, he had played over 100 times for The Spiders and represented both Scotland and Great Britain at amateur level, making an appearance in the Olympic games along the way.
His performances with Third Lanark earned him a £8,750 (big money back then!) move to Newcastle United in February, 1951, and it was at St. James' Park that Simpson became a star. Having dislodged veteran Jack Fairbrother from the starting line-up, he took his place alongside the likes of Jackie Milburn and Joe Harvey and was part of the Newcastle side that won the FA Cup in 1952 and 1955, becoming the first goalkeeper to win two FA Cup winners medals since Dick Pym in the 1920s. And he was still only 24.
Despite enjoying success with Newcastle, Simpson failed to impress Scotland's international selectors and the only recognition he received during this period was in the form of two "B" caps against England, four years apart.
After ten years and nearly 300 first-team appearances, Simpson moved back north of the border, joining Hibs shortly before his 30th birthday. The likeable goalkeeper had fallen out of favour at St. James' Park and had been languishing in the reserves. His career seemed to be coming to a close, but he found a new lease of life at Easter Road and played a key role in Hibernian's march to the semi-finals of the 1961 Fairs (UEFA) Cup competition while Newcastle were relegated.
In 1964, Simpson's career took another turn. Hibs manager Jock Stein decided that the goalkeeper was surplus to requirements and just when it seemed like it was time to hang up his gloves, Celtic came in with an offer of £4,000. He joined the Parkhead side as cover for John Fallon and many saw the move as one final pay-day.
Simpson managed a couple of appearances for The Hoops before Stein became manager. Things didn't look too bright for the goalkeeper but when the Stein's hand was forced, Simpson got his chance and neither ever looked back. He went on to play a total of 188 times for the club and managed to keep 91 clean sheets, collecting four championship medals, one Cup and three League Cup medals along the way. But his greatest prize came in 1967, when he was part of the historic Lisbon Lions side that won the European Cup against Inter Milan.
Simpson also finally got the international recognition he deserved and finally made his debut against England at the tender age of 36 as Scotland beat the reigning World Champions 3-2 at Wembley. He went on to win five caps in total and was named Player of the Year by the Scottish Football Writers Association in 1967 before retiring in 1970.
Despite playing in two World Cup Finals and winning the European Championships with West Germany - not mention a very successful club career, Harald Schumacher will always be remembered for one thing: his "tackle" on Frenchman Patrick Battiston.
Schumacher's assault - hip first - left Battison unconscious on the floor, minus a few teeth, and out of the game while the German goalkeeper escaped without so much as a booking before playing a major role in the subsequent penalty shoot-out that decided the game. A French national newspaper conducted a poll shortly afterwards to find the most hated man in France, and Schumacher managed to beat even Adolf Hitler (who finished second) into first place.
However, despite that tackle and underneath the porn star appearance, Schumacher was one of the best goalkeepers of his generation. The last line of defence of one of the strongest international teams ever to grace the field of play, he was twice voted German Footballer of the year and only Hans-Peter Briegel denied him an unprecedented hattrick of wins in the mid-1980s.
Schumacher spent almost his entire career with one club - 1.FC Koln - and played a record 422 times for the Bundesliga club between 1972-1987. He also had brief spells with Schalke, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund but he will always be associated with "Der FC" in his native Germany, where he won the League title, Cup and UEFA Cup.
A strong-willed, athletic goalkeeper - if a bit eccentric, the former German number one played 76 times for his country, making his debut in 1979 against Iceland as a substitute for Sepp Maier, but his style and approach to the game - he often went through yoga routines before big games - were not popular with everyone. He had to fight off several challenges for the goalkeeper spot during his international career, including SV Hamburg's Uli Stein, who was eventually sent home from the 1986 World Cup Finals in frustration having been unable to dislodge Schumacher, who went on to finish second behind Diego Maradona in FIFA's Golden Ball vote to find the Player of the Tournament.
Schumacher went into management after hanging up his gloves and is still active in the German game today. However, over twenty years later, the clip of him charging into Battiston (who, incidentally, held no grudges and invited the goalkeeper to his wedding!) is still being aired on football shows up-and-down the country. A much underrated keeper, who, unfortunately, will never command the respect - especially in the UK - that his talents deserve.
Arguably Argentina's greatest ever goalkeeper, Ubaldo Fillol didn't really look like a footballer. Indeed, his long, shaggy hair and penchant for baggy shorts would not have looked out of place on a Californian surfing beach. But in a 21-year-career, that included spells in Spain and Brazil as well as that World Cup win with Argentina in 1978, the charismatic keeper established himself as one of the best of the modern game.
Born in San Miguel del Monte in 1950, "El Pato" (The Duck) made his professional debut in 1969 with Quilmes and although he had to wait another two season before finally establishing himself as their Number One, his early performances caught the eye of Racing Club, who signed him in 1972. In his first season with his new club, Fillol saved six penalties - an Argentinean record at the time - and quickly enhanced his reputation with a string of superlative performances between the posts. River Plate were certainly convinced and signed the goalkeeper at the start of the 1973 season.
Fillol went on to enjoy 11 successful years with the Argentinean giants as they dominated the national league but his greatest triumph came in 1978.
Four years early, during the 1974 tournament in West Germany, Fillol had been part of Argentina's squad as a reserve keeper, but after a disappointing second phase - which saw them lose to Brazil and Holland - he replaced first choice Daniel Carnevali in their final game against East Germany to make his World Cup tournament debut. Many expected Fillol to succeed Carnevali, but in the lead up to the 1978 Finals, manager César Menotti had favoured Hugo Gatti. However, Gatti was axed after a string of unconvincing performances by the host nation and Menotti decided to go with Fillol.
Fillol repaid his manager's faith with a string of excellent performances throughout the tournament as Argentina controversially marched to the final. In the second round he kept three clean sheets and saved a penalty by Poland's Kazi Deya which later proved decisive. In the final, Fillol frustrated the Dutch as he turned in his most impressive performance as the host nation won the trophy in extra time and was later voted Goalkeeper of the Tournament by the world's press.
He eventually retired from the National Team after more than a decade of service in 1985 - having competed in the 1982 Finals in Spain - with a record 58 caps to his name. He enjoyed a further successful five years with the likes of Flamengo, Athletico Madrid and Racing Club before moving into management.
Dressed in black from head-to-toe, Gyula Grosics was the unmistakable last line of defence of the "Mighty Magyars" - the legendary Hungarian team of the early fifties who seemed destined to sweep all before them until they met West Germany in the 1954 World Cup Final. Until that game, Hungary had gone almost four years and played 33 games without tasting defeat.
Born in 1926, Grosics grew up in the Tatabanya district of Hungary and by the time he was thirteen, he was well on his way to becoming a professional goalkeeper. The Second World War interrupted his progress but he eventually ended up at Honved and made his international debut in 1947 at the age of twenty-one. He would go on to enjoy a fifteen-year international career that would include participation in three World Cups and an Olympic Gold Medal at the 1952 Games in Helsinki.
A tall, athletic, imposing figure, Grosics was one of the Magyars' genuine World-class players. He may have been overshadowed by the likes of Puskas, Hidegkuti and Kocsis, but his contribution to that run of 33 games cannot be underestimated. Aside from the saves that made his reputation, Grosics was also one of the first goalkeepers to ever leave his box as the Hungarians set about revolutionising the game.
The Golden Team typically attacked as a unit, employing a "W-W" 4-2-4 formation with the backline moving into the opposing half. However, this adventurous style of play was open to counterattacks, often via a long-ball over the top, but coach Gustav Sebes recognised this threat and utilised Groscis natural athleticism by getting him to act a sweeper, often sprinting off his line to clear loose balls.
This unorthodox of attack system often confused the opposition and the team reached their zenith in 1953 when they went to Wembley and beat England 6-3 without breaking sweat. The result had major shockwaves through British football. Yet despite all evidence to the contrary - the deep-lying centre forward, the on-rushing goalkeeper and the interchanging of positions - it was years before the lessons from that game were finally learnt.
But despite losing only once in 50 games, The Golden Team's star soon began to fade. Following that infamous defeat to West Germany, the side returned to home to Hungary - where victory had been so certain - to vilification and retribution. Grosics himself was arrested later that year on charges of treason, placed under house arrest and barred from playing for 13 months.
He was eventually released and transferred to his home side Tatabanya, but despite his modest surroundings, he was still selected for the National side. However, by the time the uprising of 1956 had ended, Grosics was back with Honved, who just happened to be on tour at the time. Despite calls from the Communist regime, the team refused to return home and Grosics was offered a contract with Flamenco of Brazil. But, while the likes of Puskas and Kocsis went on to play Spain, the keeper - patriotic to the last - eventually returned home to Hungary with his family and resumed his playing career.
Goalkeepers are an odd bunch but even the most eccentric of this exclusive club considered Jean-Marie Pfaff a bit loopy. A renowned practical joker, his pranks were often the bane of his teammates, but such was his talent that they often overlooked his mischievous streak in return for a clean sheet in the next game. Pfaff usually obliged.
A keeper of undeniable talent, he started his professional career earlier than most, signing his first contract with SK Beveren at the age of six. Beveren's faith in the prodigious goalkeeper was duly repaid twenty years later when a Pfaff inspired side won the Belgian Championship in 1979. But by then, most of Belgium knew just what a special talent he was. At the age of 23, he made his debut for the national side against Holland, and although the Red Devils lost the game, Pfaff announced his arrival on the international stage by saving a penalty. And in 1978 he won the "Soulier d'Or" (The Golden Boot) after leading the Waasland club to victory in the Belgian Cup.
But his pranks were not always to everyone's taste and he almost missed one of Belgium's greatest triumphs on the international stage when he was dropped from the national side just before the 1980 European Championships. He was eventually recalled and, despite being considered pre-tournament outsiders by the bookies, played his part in the Red Devils' march to the final. Belgium lost in the last minute to West Germany, but it was the start of a golden era for Belgian football, as they qualified for the next three major tournaments.
Following his performances in the 1982 World Cup finals in Spain, Pfaff began to attract the attention of some of Europe's big clubs but many were put off by his outlandish behaviour and extravagant goalkeeping style. Bayern Munich eventually decided to take a chance on him, and like Beveren before them, they were not to be disappointed. The German club won three Bundesliga Championships in succession (1985-87) plus two German Cups in 1984 and 1986 with the Belgian in goal.
The mid-Eighties were incredibly successful for Pfaff both domestically and at international level. In 1984 Belgium once again qualified for the European Championship and in 1986 they enjoyed a run to the semi-finals of the 1986 World Cup in Mexico that included an epic penalty shoot-out against Spain which once again elevated the goalkeeper to hero status in his homeland. But not even Pfaff could prevent a Maradonna-inspired Argentina from winning the competition.
After such a triumphant period, it came as little surprise when Pfaff beat off competition from the likes of Neville Southall and Peter Shilton to become the first keeper to be voted World's Best Goalkeeper by the International Federation of Football History & Statistics in 1987.
Pfaff continued to play for Belgium - eventually amassing 64 caps - and later played for Trabzon Sport and SK Lierse. But after retiring from the game, the joker inside the goalkeeper came to the fore and Pfaff became a TV Presenter, later fronting his own reality TV show - The Pfaffs - just to add weight to the theory that all goalkeepers are nuts.
Jürgen Croy is something of an unsung hero in the world of goalkeepers. Chances are that you've probably never heard of him, but had he born on the other side of the Wall he could have very well been playing in the 1974 World Cup Final instead of Sepp Maier - he was that good.
Born in the city of Zwickau, Croy spent his entire career with his hometown club, BSG Sachsenring Zwickau (now known as FSV Zwickau), playing nearly 400 top flight matches. He earned his first international cap at the tender age of twenty and kept a clean sheet as East Germany beat Sweden 1-0 and would go on to play 94 times for his country in an international career spanning fourteen years, keeping another clean sheet in his last appearance at the age of 34 against Cuba. But it was during the 1974 World Cup Finals that Croy came to the attention of the football world.
Drawn in the same group as their neighbours, the East Germans - with their outdated blue shirts with GDR emblazoned on the front - upset the form book by beating their counterparts from the West 1-0 in the final game to top the group. And although they were eventually undone by Brazil and Holland in the next round, they went home with their heads held high. None more so than Croy, who, with his excellent saves and reflex reactions, had captured the admiring glances of many.
It was during this period that Croy was at his best and experienced the most success. The 1974 team had built upon the foundations laid by the Olympic squad of 1972, who had walked away with the Bronze medal in Munich, and in 1976 they went all the way and won Gold at Montreal. On the domestic front, Croy won his second East German Cup Final with BSG in 1975, enjoying a run to the Semi-Final of the Cup Winners' Cup the following season. And it was during this period that the outstanding shot stopper was elected East German Football of the Year three times, in 1972, '76 and '78, not to mention being awarded the title of Honorary Citizen of the city of Zwickau in 1976.
Despite winning the East German Cup in 1967 and 1975, the dominance of teams like Dynamo Dresden and FC Carl Zeiss Jena restricted Croy's opportunities to shine in European competitions, which partly goes someway to explaining his partial anonymity in the West. However, his ability to stay at the top of his game earned him rave reviews in both the East and West German media and he deservedly made the Top Fifty of the International Federation of Football History and Statistics' Goalkeepers of the Century.
Ricardo Zamora Martinez was, is and probably forever will be one of the biggest names in Spanish football. But his reputation extends beyond the Iberian Peninsula and he was voted on the greatest players of the 20th century by World Soccer magazine in December 1999. Not bad for a goalkeepers who played his last competitive match in 1938.
Born in Barcelona in 1901, El Divino made his name with Español, with whom he won his first Copa del Rey title, before going on to cement his reputation with both Barcelona and Real Madrid. Like most goalkeeping legends, he had his own distinctive style - both in playing terms and appearance - and often entered the field of play wearing a cloth cap and a white polo-neck jumper, which he claimed protected him from the sun and opposition players. He was one the first truly modern keepers and his agility between the sticks was only rivaled by his bravery, playing on in a game against England in 1929 despite breaking his sternum during the match.
In 1920 he was a member for the first ever Spanish international squad and helped his country win silver at the 1920 Olympic games and went on to become Spain's most capped footballer, making 46 appearances in total that including the 1934 World Cup Finals. He kept the record for 38 years and but for the Spanish Civil War, he would have undoubtedly won more.
Having also represented Catalonia, he was an easy target for both Republicans and Nationalists during the War and was exploited by both sides for propaganda purposes. But such was the nature of the conflict that Zamora quickly found himself behind bars - and it was falsely reported that he had been killed during the early stages of the war. However, he remained alive and well, if only because of his willingness to play and talk football with his guards, and was eventually released, spending the next two years with Nice in France.
A colourful, if controversial character, he apparently enjoyed a good a drink and a smoke and first run into trouble with the authorities when he attempted to smuggle Havana cigars into Spain on his return from the Olympics - something that earned him his first stint behind bars. He was later suspended for a year after lying to tax authorities about a signing on fee.
The scandals died down once his playing days were over, but he went on to prove himself as a manager, twice winning La Liga with Atlético Madrid and later managing the Spanish national side. Today, the Ricardo Zamora trophy is awarded to the keeper with the lowest goals-to-games ratio in La Liga - a fitting tribute to a fine player.
The chances are that you've probably never heard of Harry Rennie. Yet the former Scotland international was something of a pioneer between the sticks, developing a unique method for keeping goal that was revolutionary at the turn of the 20th Century. Indeed some of the goalkeeping techniques he introduced to the game are still in use today. Quite a remarkable feat when you consider he only became a goalkeeper in 1897 at the relatively late age of 23, after a successful junior career as a half-back.
Rennie made the decision to try his hand in goal when he joined Division Two side Morton. Perhaps it was his inexperience that led to him thinking about his positioning and to help him judge his angles he became the first keeper to mark out his goal area, a practice that is now commonplace. He also introduced a new scientific approach by studying the body language of his opponents as they prepared to shoot, which helped him to anticipate the flight of the ball.
His performances attracted attention from the bigger clubs after a single season he was sold to Hearts for the princely sum of £50, where he won his first international cap the following season, keeping a clean sheet against Ireland in 1900. Less than a year later he was on the move again, joining Hibernian after a proposed move to Celtic fell through due to a contract dispute. As well as being a keen student of geometry, he also had unquestionably faith in his own ability and a stubborn personality is believed to have been the first player to sign for Hibs who negotiated his own terms.
Rennie went on to become an integral part of the team at Easter Road. He won the Scottish Cup in 1902, with contemporary match reports crediting him with a number of important saves, and helped them to their first League title the following year, playing in every game during the campaign and earning rave reviews for his performances.
He collected 13 caps in total and representing the Scottish League a further seven times before moving to Rangers in 1908. Rennie ended his career back at Morton after brief spells with Inverness and Kilmarnock, retiring at the age of 40. He maintained a keen interest in the game and the art of goalkeeping in general, mentoring and developing several talented youngsters, including Jimmy Cowan, who, like Rennie, would go on to represent Morton and Scotland.
Despite an inauspicious start to his career, Dino Zoff went on to become one of the best goalkeepers the game as ever known. Such is his standing within football that he was voted the third best keeper of the 20th Century behind Lev Yashin and Gordon Banks in a poll conducted by the IFFHS. Yet just like Peter Shilton before him, his career was almost curtailed at an early age due to his lack of height, a handicap that saw him rejected by both Inter Milan and Juventus.
Legend has it that a diet of eggs recommended by his grandmother Adelaide helped Zoff achieve the necessary height for a goalkeeper and his performances for his local village team attracted the attentions of Udinese. But after conceding five on his professional debut (See Goalkeeping Debuts), Zoff struggled to hold down a first team place. A move to Mantova in 1963 gave the keeper the impetus his career needed and by 1966 the uncapped Zoff was being considered for a place in Italy's World Cup squad by manager Edmondo Fabbri.
In the end, Zoff had to wait another two years before he made his debut for the Azzurri, keeping a clean sheet in a 2-0 victory over Bulgaria in the 1968 European Championships quarter-finals. He would go on to retain his place as Italy beat Yugoslavia in a replay to claim the title. Yet Zoff would play no part in Italy's march to the 1970 World Cup final after a loss of form. Indeed, the World Cup proved to be something of a mixed bag for the Italian goalkeeper.
Omitted from the squad in '66 because the manager did not want to be accused of favouritism, benched four years later, Zoff had to wait until 1974 before he finally made his bow in the competition. But even this proved to be a day of mixed fortunes. After going 1,142 minutes without conceding a goal he was finally beaten by Haiti's Manno Sanon in Italy's opening game in a disappointing tournament for the Azzurri. Ever the perfectionist, Zoff was hugely critical of his own performances in Argentina in 1978 despite Italy's fourth-place finish and it looked like his moment had passed when the unimpressive Italians drew all three of their opening games in 1982 to limp out of their group in the opening round.
However, it would prove to be a happy ending for Zoff, as he led the Azzurri to the title in Spain with a 3-1 win over West Germany in the final, with Golden Boot winner Paolo Rossi singling out his goalkeeper as the most important factor in their unexpected triumph. In the process Zoff became the oldest player ever to win a World Cup medal and only the second goalkeeper to captain his team to victory. It should have been a fitting finale to his international career but having maintained the philosophy that you were only as good as your last game, Zoff remained at the heart of the Italian defence for another year. His swansong proving to be a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Sweden in 1983, the last of his 112 caps.
Renowned for his consistency between the sticks, not to mention his positioning, handling and reaction saves, he collected six Scudetto tiles during his time with Juventus and also won the UEFA Cup and Coppa Italia with the Italian giants. Yet the European Cup was the one trophy that alluded Zoff, missing out twice to Ajax and Hamburg in 1973 and 1983 respectively. However, it wasn't a bad haul for a keeper who had to overcome more than his fair share of disappointments during his career.
Often referred to as "Pele's Goalkeeper", Brazil's Gilmar is often overlooked when fans draw up their list of goalkeeping greats, despite the fact he remains the only custodian to win back-to-back World Cups. Yet in the late 1950s/early 60s, he was mentioned in the same breath as Hungary's Gyula Grosics and the Soviet Union's Lev Yashin and is arguably the best South American goalkeeper of all time.
Tall, sleek and clean cut, Gilmer combined agility, quick reflexes and athleticism with an authoritative presence in the box and an unruffled sense of calm. Born Gilmar dos Santos Neves on August 22 1930 in Santos - he was apparently named after his parents, Gilberto and Maria - his talent between the sticks was obvious from an early age with the Jabaquara club in his home city of Santos, where he made his debut at the tender age of 15. He was signed by Corinthians in 1951, going on to win his first piece of silverware the same year when they lifted the state championship. He won the same title three times in his four seasons with the Sao Paulo club and his performances resulted in Gilmar winning his first cap in March, 1953, when he was part of the Brazil side that thrashed Bolivia 8-1 in a Copa America clash.
He quickly cemented his place as first choice for the Selecao, replacing the much-maligned Moacir Barbosa, and came to prominence on the international stage through a string of superb performances during the 1958 World Cup finals. He kept a clean sheet in each of Brazil's first four games of the tournament but is probably best remembered for consoling the emotional 17-year-old Pele after their triumph over Sweden in the final. He conceded just five goals four years later as Brazil successfully defended their title, making a vital save against Spain in a crucial group game to ensure qualification to the quarter-finals, but any hopes of a third success in England in 1966 were short-lived. After keeping goal against Bulgaria and Hungary at Everton's Goodison Park, Gilmar was dropped for the all-important clash against Portugal that saw the holders eliminated after they lost the game.
Having joined his home-city club Santos in 1961, the keeper would continue to enjoy success on the domestic front and played an instrumental part in the team's five successive national championships between 1961 and 1965, plus five Sao Paulo state titles. He also added two Copa Libertadores medals to his collection in 1962 and 1963 and lifted the Intercontinental Cup against Benfica and Milan in the same seasons in a side led up front by Pele, who incidentally scored his first senior goal against Gilmar.
He retired in 1969 at the age of 38, having won his 94th and final cap in a 2-1 friendly win against England at the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro the same year. It was his seventh appearance against the Three Lions, having first showcased his talents to the English public at Wembley back in 1956 in a game where he saved not one but two penalties, the first by Bristol City's John Atyeo, the other by Roger Byrne of Manchester United. Brazil ultimately lost that game but it was just one of 16 defeats experienced by the national side while Gilmar was in goal. No wonder one Brazilian journalist described him as "simply the greatest of all time".
History has been slightly unkind to Ronnie Hellström. Despite representing Sweden in three consecutive World Cups during the 1970s he is often overlooked when it comes to short-listing the greatest goalkeepers ever to play the game. Yet he enjoyed a distinguished career, if one lacking in silverware, on both the international stage and domestically in his home country and West Germany.
His standing within the game is more remarkable when you consider that he played part-time for the first eight years of his career with Swedish side Hammarby. Something of a precocious talent, he made his debut at the tender age of 17 before winning the first of 77 caps two years later in a friendly against the Soviet Union. By the time the 1970 World Cup came around, he was Sweden's first choice keeper but an uncertain game against Italy in their first match of the tournament saw him dropped in favour of Sven-Gunnar Larsson.
Hellström bounced back the following season, however, and was voted Footballer of the Year (Golden Ball) in his home country in 1971. He would continue to play for Hammarby for another three years before finally turning professional when he joined Kaiserslautern, prior to the 1974 World Cup. Having begun to carve out a reputation as an instinctive shot stopper and something of reflex save specialist, Hellström, with his blond locks and moustache, enjoyed an excellent tournament in West Germany and helped Sweden to an unexpected fifth place in the competition. Had he not been so eager to sign professional forms, he could arguably have had his pick of the big European clubs such was the level of his performances.
However he had no regrets about joining the Red Devils and spent the remaining ten years of his career with the club. He won his second Footballer of the Year in Sweden in 1978 and enjoyed further positive reviews in the World Cup in Argentina in the same year, where the Swedes were eliminated in the first round after being drawn in the same group as Austria, Brazil and Spain. Despite the early exit, Hellström was at the peak of his game and conceded just three goals - one in each game.
Yet club honours continued to elude him. He picked up two German cup runners-up medals in 1976 and 1981 and narrowly missed out on a UEFA Cup medal when Kaiserslautern were knocked out of the semi-finals, ironically by Gothenburg, in extra time. But throughout his time with the German club he remained a popular figure with the fans. The love affair was mutual and when the New York Cosmos came calling, Hellström decided to stay. When he retired in 1984, he was rewarded with a farewell game, the first non-German to receive the honour. Broadcast live on television in both Germany and Sweden, the match drew a gate of 35,000 and saw the goalkeeper carried off the shoulders of his adoring fans.
He would make on further appearance, turning out at the ripe old age of 39 for GIF Sundsvall after an injury crisis robbed them of both of their regular keepers. Typically, and somewhat appropriately, Hellström kept a clean sheet.
Alan Hodgkinson was a one club man, spending his entire professional career at Bramall Lane with Sheffield United. He won five England caps and was back-up to Ron Springett during the 1962 World Cup in Chile but never enjoyed the kind of domestic success experienced by his contemporaries. No FA Cup final appearance, no European jaunts, no League titles. Yet his place in history is assured by his contribution to the art of goalkeeping after his playing career came to an end, having effectively invented and introduced the role of professional goalkeeping coach to the British game in the 1980s.
Born into a mining family in the village of Laughton Common, South Yorkshire, Hodgkinson's prowess between the sticks allowed him to escape a life down the pits when Sheffield United signed him from Worksop Town at the age of sixteen. He made his debut a week after his 18th birthday but compulsory National Service stunted his chances of establishing himself as the Blades' first choice keeper, despite his obvious potential. He went on to make 675 appearances for United, the majority of which were in the top flight of English football, and was crowned Player of the Year by supporters at the end of 1966/67 season.
Standing just 5' 9", what Hodgkinson lacked in height he made up with his strong physical presence, reliability and agility. He would train hard between games, sharpening his reflexes by kicking footballs against the rollers used by Yorkshire Cricket Club for the creases on the adjoining pitch because the angles on the rebounds were never the same. He was also a great thinker and renowned for computing his angles and intelligent positional sense during games. Qualities he would pass on to those who would follow in his footsteps.
Hodgkinson had initially recognised the need for a specialist coach during his playing days but decided to get the necessary coaching experience under his belt, first with United and then with Gillingham where he was assistance manager. When he left Gillingham in 1981, he contacted every League club, offering his services and moved to the Midlands to make it easier for him to travel around the country. He was soon inundated with offers and initially worked part-time with Coventry City, Watford and Manchester City before becoming involved in the England international set-up.
He would later work with Alex Ferguson at Manchester United and after watching a young Danish keeper called Peter Schmeichel in 1991, it was Hodgkinson that he turned to for a second opinion. He responded by simply telling Ferguson to sign him up - "He's the one. He will win the title for you... he'll be the bargain of the century." Yet such was the shortage of such specialised coaches that he found himself in the unusual predicament of being mentor to both Arsenal's David Seaman and Sheffield Wednesday's Chris Woods during the 1993 FA Cup Final. Ever the diplomat, Hodgkinson sat on the Gunners' bench in the first half before transferring himself to the opposition bench after half-time.
However, it was north of the border where he arguably had the biggest impact as a goalkeeping coach. The butt of many a joke for decades, the reputation of Scottish goalkeepers was not great prior to Hodgkinson's involvement with the Scotland national side in the mid-1980s. That all changed when he wrote a goalkeeping manual for the Scottish Football Association that helped raise the standard at club level. He went on to guide a succession of keepers over 200 games and four major tournaments - including Andy Goram and Jim Leighton - before returning to the domestic game with Glasgow Rangers, Everton and Leicester City among others.
He would later devise specialist courses for UEFA and was awarded the MBE for his services to the game he loved in 2008, having achieved so much ground-breaking work with his innovative approach to coaching goalkeepers.
Jan Tomaszewski will always be remembered in the UK for one reason and one reason only - namely his Man of the Match performance in a World Cup qualifier against England back in October, 1973. On that night he broke English hearts with a string of saves - ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous - to earn Poland the 1-1 draw that saw them qualify at the expense of the 1966 winners. Yet there was more to the career of Tomaszewski than one night of heroics at Wembley and he went on to make a mockery of the "clown" label that was unfairly bestowed on him by Brian Clough.
Born in January, 1948 in the Polish city of Wroclaw, Tomaszewski would not have even played in the match that defined his career had his parents not been expelled from Vilnius, which was then part of the Soviet Union, after the Second World War. He grew up in the city and cut his teeth between the sticks with Gwardia Wroclaw then Śląsk Wrocław before moving to Legia Warsaw. Yet it was at ŁKS Łódź where he finally established himself as Poland's number one keeper, going on to make over 200 appearances.
On the international stage, Tomaszewski will always be remembered for his performances during the World Cup of 1974, both in qualifying and in the finals itself, where Poland impressed many and finished a creditable third. Having kept both England and Wales at bay at home, the Polish goalkeeper and his teammates travelled to London knowing destiny was in their own hands. Despite Poland's credible victories over the home nations in Krackow, England started the game as heavy favourites, especially as they'd just beaten Austria 7-0. As the teams lined up for the national anthems, Tomaszewski later confessed that he was hoping to merely keep the scoreline respectable.
However, despite breaking his wrist when challenging for the ball with Allan Clarke after just three minutes, the Polish goalkeeper performed out-of-his-skin to keep England at bay. True, he had a large slice of luck and was helped out by the post on a couple of occasions but the only ball that ended up in his net that night was from a Clarke penalty. The last 30 minutes of the game saw Poland repel every attack with every part of their bodies to earn a draw and qualification.
Despite being written off as fluke, Poland finally bowed out with defeat against West Germany in the final game of the second round group phase, the first time they had dropped points in the entire tournament. On their way to that Third Place finish, where they beat defending champions Brazil 1-0, Tomaszewski saved two penalties - the first keeper to do so in the history of the competition. The first from Staffan Tapper against Sweden, the second to deny Uli Hoeness of West Germany.
He went on to win a silver medal at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal and played in the 1978 World Cup, where Poland reached the second group phase again but could not repeat their heroics of four years earlier. Unable to play abroad before the age of 30 due to the sanctions imposed by the ruling communist party, Tomaszewski enjoyed stints with Beerschot in Belgium, where he won the Belgian Cup, and Hércules in Spain, before retiring in 1982. That cup win was surprisingly the only domestic honour of his long career - having just missed out on numerous league titles both at home and abroad.
And what of Brian Clough? The pair met in Manchester three years after the game and as Tomaszewski recalls, "He came up to me and apologised, and we shook hands. That's one of the things that shows the greatness of a person."
Like Gordon Banks before him, Ladislao Mazurkiewicz is best remembered for a moment he shared with Pele during the 1970 World Cup finals. However, Mazurkiewicz's claim to fame was less auspicious as the Brazilian forward outrageously dummied the Uruguay goalkeeper on the edge of his own penalty area during their semi-final in Guadalajara. Yet with an open goal before him, Pele somehow dragged his shot wide, causing the keeper to later remark, with tongue firmly in cheek, that he had "done enough to put Pele off."
Brazil would ultimately triumph 3-1 while Uruguay had to settle for fourth place but Mazurkiewicz, who was considered to be one of the finest keepers of his generation by his peers, had done enough to be voted goalkeeper of the tournament. He had already made his mark four years earlier, when as a fresh-faced 21-year-old, he lined up at Wembley in the opening game of the 1966 tournament. According to legend he kissed the Queen's hand and told her she looked like something out of a painting before informing her majesty that Uruguay would win the match. The game ended 0-0, with Mazurkiewicz keeping out the prolific Jimmy Greaves in what proved to be the only game where the host nation failed to score on their way to lifting the trophy.
Uruguay eventually bowed out in the quarter-finals to West Germany, probably to the relief of BBC's legendary commentator Kenneth Wolstenholme, who had trouble pronouncing the keeper's name throughout the tournament (the goalkeeper's paternal grandparents had fled to South America from Poland with their children to escape Hitler's invasion in 1939). Remarkably, Mazurkiewicz had only been playing in goal for three years, taking up his new position at the age of 18 while with Racing Club Montevideo because the regular keeper had an emergency dental appointment, impressing after saving six penalties. Within two years he had signed for city neighbours FC Peñarol, where he won three Primera División titles between 1965 and 1968.
In addition to his appearances in the World Cup in 1966, he also helped the Aurinegros win the South American Copa Libertadores, where they beat River Plate in the final, and the Intercontinental Cup. He kept a clean sheet in both legs as Peñarol beat Real Madrid 2-0 both home and away, earning praise from all quarters for his performance in the Bernabeu.
Following his performances in Mexico in 1970, Mazurkiewicz was high demand and signed for Atlético Mineiro of Brazil, with whom he won the Brazilian league title. Four years later, following his third consecutive and final appearance in the final stages of the World Cup, he joined Spanish side Grenada but only played twice in two seasons thanks to a recurring wrist injury. The move to Spain also brought the curtain down on his international career at the premature age of 29 after winning 36 caps (La Celeste would not qualify for the World Cup for another 12 years). Mazurkiewicz later enjoyed spells in Colombia and Chile before returning to Peñarol in 1980, where he won a fourth Uruguayan title the following year before finally hanging up his gloves.
František Plánička's standing within the game of football is such that in 1999 he made it into the International Federation of Football History & Statistics' Top Ten of Goalkeepers of the 20th Century, one of only two pre-World War Two keepers to make the list. It was a remarkable achievement for a player who hung his gloves up in 1938 but his reputation and abilities had been recorded for prosperity by the journalists and football writers of the time to ensure future generations would not forget The Cat of Prague.
When one talks of World Cups and match-winning performances it is easy to overlook the achievements of Plánička and his contemporaries, their performances on grainy, monochrome film, in favour of more modern keepers, whose every save and move is captured in High Definition and repeated ad nauseam. Yet Plánička blazed a trail during the 1930s that in many respects acted as a template for many that followed, enjoying a lengthy club and international career glittered with silverware and records of achievement.
To say Plánička was from a different era would be something of an understatement. Born in 1904 in Prague, then part of Austro-Hungary, he spent his entire life in the city and remained a one-club man, joining Slava Prague as a teenager in 1923. Had he been alive today, it is unlikely he would ever have found a club due to his height - standing at just below 5ft 8in in his socks. But with Plánička in goal, the Red-and-Whites enjoyed one of the most successful periods in the club's history.
In the fifteen years Plánička spent with Slava, they won the Czechoslovakian league title seven times and the Bohemia Cup a further six times. The club also won the Mitropa Cup, a forerunner of the European Cup for teams located in Central Europe, at the very end of Plánička's career in 1938. But it was on the World stage that really cemented his reputation.
A goalkeeper of outstanding agility with sharp reflexes to boot, Plánička was capped a then-record 73 times by Czechoslovakia over a period of twelve years. He captained his country in two World Cups, leading his team to the final in 1934, where they were unfortunate to lose to hosts Italy in extra-time. Four years later Plánička and his team were denied another Final appearance after a particularly rough encounter with Brazil, whose heavy-handed tactics were far removed from the free-flowing football of later years.
With the scores level at 1-1, Oldřich Nejedlý was forced off the pitch with a broken leg, before Plánička suffered a broken arm and possibly a dislocated shoulder following an incident with Brazil's Perácio as the striker attempted to bundle the ball over the line. Yet with no substitutions available, Plánička opted to play on rather than leave the field of play. Incredibly, he kept Brazil out for the remainder of the game but missed the replay two days later as a weakened Czechoslovakia bowed out in a 2-1 defeat. There was some comfort for Plánička, however, when he was named in the Team of the Tournament by journalists, having conceded just one goal in three games.
Injury and the occupation of Czechoslovakia by Nazi Germany ended his career but he continued to play in friendlies after the war, turning out for a team of former internationals at the tender age of 66 in 1970. In 1985 he was presented with an Honorary Fair Play Award by UNESCO in recognition of the way he played the game and his achievements during a long and distinguished career. Plánička's last wish was to see Slava Prague win the League title once again, which they duly did after a 48-year wait. He died two months later in July, 1996, the last surviving member of the 1934 World Cup squad.
Like Peter Shilton before him, Belgium's Michel Preud'homme had some pretty big boots to fill when he replaced Jean-Marie Pfaff to become first choice for les Diables Rouges. With Pfaff in goal, Belgium had reached the final of the 1980 European Championships and the semi-finals of the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, which led to him winning the inaugural IFFHS' World's Best Goalkeeper of the Year title the following year. Yet by the time he had retired from the international stage in 1994, Preud'homme had surpassed his predecessor in many people's eyes to be considered one of the greatest goalkeepers of his generation.
A product of Standard Liège's youth system, Preud'homme's talent was obvious from an early age, with the Belgian side confident enough of his abilities to award him his first team debut at the age of 18 while he was still at school following injuries to Christian Piot and the wonderfully named John Paul Crucifix in August, 1977. His reputation as an agile, shot-stopper with superb reflexes quickly grew. Within two years he had made his international debut, keeping a clean sheet in a European Championship qualifier against Austria and was selected as Belgium's third-choice goalie for the finals in 1980, where they were runners-up to West Germany. Yet with Pfaff at the height of his powers, Preud'homme had to make his mark on the Belgian domestic scene.
Having established himself with Liège, he helped the club to back-to-back League titles in 1982 and 1983, adding to the Belgian Cup the team won in 1981. They also reached the final of the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup in 1982, losing to Barcelona 2-1 at the Nou Camp. Yet injury robbed him of a place in Belgium's 1982 World Cup squad.
His domestic success continued following a move to Mechelen in 1986, winning the Cup once again in his first season with the club. This was followed by a successful Cup Winners' Cup campaign, culminating in a 1-0 triumph over Ajax in the final, and victory in the UEFA Super Cup. Mechelen secured the League title the following season with Preud'homme being named Belgium's Player of the Year for the second time following his success in 1987. But the 1990 World Cup would end in disappointment for the goalkeeper and a much fancied Belgium side when David Platt netted the winning goal for England in the Second Round in the last seconds of extra time.
In terms of honours, the best was yet to come for this excellent, tenacious keeper who was a model of consistency. Despite Belgium once again going out in the Second Round, he was voted Goalkeeper of the Tournament at USA '94, becoming the first keeper to win the Lev Yashin Award in the process. He also emulated his compatriot Pfaff when he was named IFFHS' Goalkeeper of the Year thanks to his performances, which included a number of spectacular and decisive saves during the competition.
Yet by the end of the year his international career was over, the last of his 58 caps coming in December 1994 in a Euro 96 qualifying match that ended in a 4-1 defeat at the hands of Spain. By now he had joined Benfica, becoming the first foreign goalkeeper in the club's history and winning the last of his domestic honours - a Cup winners medal following an emphatic victory over rivals Sporting Lisbon. He retired in 1999, having earned the nickname "Saint Michel" from the Eagles' fans for his outstanding performances and outrageous saves.
There is little argument that Oliver Kahn was one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time, especially in his pomp. Voted World Goalkeeper of the Year on three occasions (1999, 2001 and 2002), the German keeper won almost every domestic title available during his spell with Bayern Munich and almost single-handedly dragged Germany to an unexpected World Cup triumph in 2002. Indeed, Kahn is held in such high esteem that it is often overlooked that he kept goal during an uncharacteristically lean time for the German team on the international stage.
Ironically, for a goalkeeper that dominated the national team, Kahn was something of a latecomer to the international scene. Despite having made his first-team debut for Karlsruher at the age of 18 (who signed Kahn at the tender age of six-years-old), youth honours passed him by and his first taste of international football came in 1994 when he received a late-call up to the German squad for the 1994 World Cup finals as third choice keeper. Kahn had to wait another year to win his first cap against Switzerland, by which time he had become Germany's most expensive goalkeeper after joining Bayern Munich.
Signed as a replacement for Raimond Aumann, his Bayern career suffered a false start after he ruptured his cruciate ligament, which kept him out of action for nearly six months. However, under the guidance of goalkeeper coach and German legend Sepp Maier, Kahn returned a stronger character. Establishing himself as first choice, Kahn went on to make over 400 appearances for the club, winning eight Bundesliga titles, six German Cups, the UEFA Cup and a Champions League title in 2001, helping to enhance his reputation further.
As captain of both his club and country, he proved himself a charismatic leader and a commanding influence, something he displayed at the aforementioned World Cup in 2002. Having sat on the bench in the previous two tournaments, Kahn displayed extraordinary mental strength to bounce back from the 5-1 drubbing at the hands of England in the qualifiers and turn in a formidable performance to lead an otherwise ordinary German side all the way to the final. He conceded only three goals throughout the entire tournament but a ligament injury in his right hand saw him fumble a shot that led to Brazil's opener. Nevertheless, he refused to blame his injury and openly admitted that the only mistake he made in the entire competition was "brutally punished".
His performances led to Kahn being award the Lev Yashin Award as the best goalkeeper of the tournament and he became the first - and only - goalkeeper to receive the Golden Ball, awarded to the best player of the competition. However, it proved to be the pinnacle of his international career and despite captaining Germany at Euro 2004, he was second choice at the 2006 World Cup.
By his own admission, Kahn attributed his decline to injuries, personal problems and a lack of motivation, which betrayed his traditional disciplined approach. Yet when he was at the top of his game, he displayed the traits every goalkeeper wishes they could master, combining technique, agility and fantastic reflexes with mental strength and composure to produce a commanding goalkeeper, capable of producing world class saves, and performances, when it was most required. He has over 200 clean sheets to prove it. No wonder they called him the Titan.
Amadeo Carrizo was a pioneer. Like Harry Rennie before him, the Argentina goalkeeper should not be judged on the number of trophies he won nor the international recognition he may have received in comparison to others, but by the number of innovative techniques he introduced to the game. True, his peer may have won more medals, but Carrizo's style and approach to goalkeeping influenced an entire generation in South America.
Carrizo spent the majority of his career with River Plate. Having made his debut against Independiente at 19, he would go on to play over 500 games for the club and was still first choice goalkeeper in 1968 at the tender age of 42. He enjoyed something of a rollercoaster career with Los Millonarios, experiencing the highs of five Championship trophies in six seasons during the 1950s and the lows of the following decade when River Plate failed to win a single trophy.
His international career was also something of a mixed affair. Capped at the relatively late age of 28, he was omitted from the squad that won the South American Championships in 1957 only to earn a recall for the World Cup in Sweden the following year. However, unlike their Brazilian counterparts, Argentina struggled in the Scandinavian sun and finished bottom of their group after a humiliating 6-1 defeat at the hands of Czechoslovakia. As a consequence, Carrizo was dropped and missed the 1959 South American Championship triumph on home soil. The goalkeeper would go on to claim one further piece of silverware when he won the Colombian title with Millonarios in 1970 in his final season in competitive football but by then his reputation was already assured.
Something of an eccentric, Carrizo believed goalkeepers were not only as the last line of defence but also the first line of attack and would often combine the two traits. Acting as a kind of sweeper, he would often leave his penalty area to break up an opposition attack - a tactic that would have scared the life out of most goalkeepers let alone their managers. Yet this approach could quickly launch a counter-attack and Carrizo was one of the first goalkeepers to adopt this strategy during matches. However, it was his decision to wear gloves on a regular basis that cemented his place in football folklore.
It should be pointed out that although he helped boost the popularity of goalkeeper gloves, he technically wasn't the first goalkeeper to wear them. Keepers had been experimenting with mittens for a number of years, ranging from thick, woollen varieties to thinner, cotton gardening gloves. Nevertheless, Carrizo took this one step further by advocating gloves in all weathers, not just during the harsh winter months, trying different materials to suit the conditions of the day.
These innovations helped break the mould when it came to traditional thinking about goalkeepers and, despite the lack of honours, led to the IFFHS ranking Carrizo among the top ten goalkeepers of the 20th Century in 2000.
For a brief period in the mid-1980s, the Soviet Union's Rinat Dasayev was considered one of the best, if not the best, goalkeepers in the world. Indeed, in 1988 he became the second winner of the IFFHS' World's Best Goalkeeper of the Year award, having been named runner-up in the inaugural award the year before. Yet despite playing for a strong Spartak Moscow side and a USSR team at the height of their powers, trophies and glory seemed to elude him during his career.
Standing at nearly 6'3", Dasayev struck an imposing figure between the sticks during three World Cups, particularly during the 1986 Finals in Mexico when an exciting Russian side were knocked out by Belgium during one of the all-time great games of football following a controversial decision by the match officials. Late in the game, with the scores level at 2-2, Dasayev earned the plaudits of many observers including Enzo Scifo after he pulled off a spectacular save to deny the Belgian, punching the ball away at full stretch. It was a trademark stop from the keeper, the type of save that had earned him the unimaginative but fully justified nickname 'The Iron Curtain' from the press. It was a technique the goalkeeper developed following the USSR's clash against Brazil at the 1982 World Cup in Spain, where he felt he would have stopped Socrates's equaliser had he gone for the ball with one hand rather than two.
Two years later, the same year he was named the World's Best keeper, the Soviets reached the final of the European Championships that very nearly delivered a deserved winner' medal in 1988. He impressed many with his performances but the Soviet Union came up short in the final against an impressive Dutch side that they'd already beaten in the group stages a fortnight earlier (with Dasayev producing a string of fine saves to keep a clean sheet). A Ruud Gullit-inspired Holland triumphed 2-0 with Marco van Basten wrapping up the victory with an unforgettable goal. He also earned a bronze medal at the 1980 Summer Olympics after the much-fancied Soviet Union side lost in the semi-final to East Germany.
At club level, he kept goal for Spartak for over ten years, having started his career at Volgar Astrakhan back in 1976. After moving to Moscow, he won the Soviet League title in 1979 and again in 1987 but in what was a competitive era for Russian domestic football, Spartak had to settle for the runners-up spot five times between 1980 and 1985, missing out on a top two finish in 1982, the year Dasayev ironically won the Soviet Footballer of the Year title. In 1988, Russian football opened up as part of the ruling regime's new Glasnost philosophy and the goalkeeper, like many top players in the country, had the opportunity to move overseas. He left Moscow that Summer to join Seville in La Liga but his stay with the Spanish club was not a happy one.
Language barriers and restrictions on the number of foreign players the club could field in a game saw Dasayev lose his place after a string of indifferent performances. On the international stage, he was marginalised by Valeríy Lobanovskyi, who opted not to pick those who had decided to seek their fortune outside of the Soviet Union. He played just once at Italia '90 as a result and following a car accident back in Spain, where he broke a hand, Dasayev decided to call time on an otherwise outstanding career. After a spell away from the game, Dasayev was asked to return to the national side as assistant coach in 2003 and continues to coach to this day, passing on his knowledge and experience to the next generation of Russian goalkeepers.
Jan van Beveren is something of a forgotten name these days, despite being described as "by far the best Dutch goalkeeper of the 1970s" by David Winner, author of Brilliant Orange. He could and probably should have played in two World Cups but missed much of the Netherlands's golden age of international football due to a combination of injury, petty arguments and internal politics that tore the Dutch side asunder. His absence was acutely felt.
Van Beveren was a precocious talent, an agile and athletic goalkeeper, he rose quickly through the ranks of amateur side VV Emmen to make his debut at the tender age of fifteen. His ambition saw him leave in 1965 to turn professional with Sparta Rotterdam (despite Emmen's best efforts). There he honed his craft with the help of coach Wiel Coerver, who held training sessions with his new goalkeeper three times a day. After a short spell with the Under-19s, Van Beveren was promoted to the first team, replacing Pim Doesburg, who would keep the bench warm for the Dutch during the 1978 World Cup Final. Remarkably, after only seventeen appearances he was called-up to the national side, making his debut at the tender age of 19 in a 3-1 victory over the Soviet Union.
Having established him as the Netherlands' first-choice keeper, a move to a bigger club was inevitable. In 1970, having attracted the attentions of Ajax, Feyenoord and Real Madrid, he signed for PSV Eindhoven, who met Sparta’s asking price. Ironically, he displaced Doesburg again as his new side reached the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup in his first season. What should have been the start of something special turned sour after the Netherlands failed to qualify for the 1970 World Cup in Mexico. Never one to keep his counsel, Van Beveren criticised those he felt were more interested in money than playing for the national team, including Johan Cruyff, sparking a feud that would ultimately destroy his international career. Four years later, he faced a race against time to be fit for the finals in West Germany, having injured his groin just before Christmas. He was given his chance to prove his fitness in a warm-up game but Van Beveren only wanted to play one half. Coach Rinus Michels refused and sent him home.
The following year the dispute resurfaced after a heavy 4-1 defeat away to Poland in a European Championship qualifier. Cruyff blamed the side's PSV contingent while Van Beveren attacked the playmaker’s egotistical attitude. Cruyff issued an ultimatum to the KNVB that resulted in the goalkeeper quitting the team alongside midfielder Willy van der Kuijlen. He was talked out of retirement to play a World Cup qualifier against Iceland but found himself left on the bench as the finals approached. When he questioned Jan Zwartkruis, the coach simply replied that he was being "manipulated", prompting Van Beveren to walk away, this time for good.
In the goalkeeper’s absence, the Dutch Total Football approach led them to their second successive World Cup final, having reached the semi-finals of the Euros in 1976. Again they fell agonisingly short, having to rely on the ageing Jan Jongbloed, who oddly managed only twenty-four appearances during a sixteen-year international career. Who knows what the Netherlands would have achieved had Van Beveren played and fulfilled his potential but most football critics feel he was the missing part of the puzzle of the Dutch team.
His domestic career with PSV certainly back that argument up. Between 1974 and 1978, when he was at his zenith, the Dutch club won the league title three times, picked up the Dutch Cup twice and claimed their first European trophy - the UEFA Cup in 1978. Yet in the eyes of the public he had turned his back on the national team and received hate mail during the World Cup. This prompted him to quit the Netherlands and join Fort Lauderdale Strikers in the NASL, seeing out his career in the Indoor Soccer League in 1985.
Harry Gregg will forever be associated with the Munich air disaster of 1958 that claimed the lives of eight of his teammates. Heralded by many as 'The Hero of Munich', he ignored burning wreckage and other dangers to pull a number of survivors clear of the plane, including Bobby Charlton and Jackie Blanchflower. Yet Gregg was a reluctant hero, embarrassed by some of the praise heaped upon him, and while Munich understandably and ultimately overshadowed the rest of his career, he would prefer to be remembered for his contribution on the football field for both club and country.
Gregg was a talented goalkeeper in a talented team and is considered one of Manchester United's greatest between the sticks. Matt Busby certainly rated the boy from Northern Ireland, paying a then World Record fee of £23,000 to capture him from Doncaster Rovers. A month prior to his move to Old Trafford, Gregg turned in a Man of the Match performance at Wembley, including a spectacular save to deny future teammate Duncan Edwards, as Northern Ireland defeated England 3-2. It was a performance that convinced the Manchester United manager that the Irishman was the man to strengthen his defence to their tilt at European glory.
Busby wasn't Gregg's only admirer and had been spotted playing junior football in Linfield at the age of 14 by Manchester City and Derby County inside-left Peter Doherty. Doherty remembered Gregg when he was on the look-out for a new goalie after becoming manager of Doncaster and signed the player from Coleraine in October 1952. Gregg was already a youth international and would earn full international honours two years later, cementing his reputation during his five years at Belle Vue, which proved to be one of the most successful periods in the club’s history.
Munich aside, 1958 proved to be a key year in Gregg's career. In May, he played in the FA Cup Final in a patched up United side against Bolton Wanderers yet was unable to help deliver the much-wanted fairy-tale ending to the season as Bolton's international-laden side triumphed 2-0. The second goal saw Gregg controversially bundled over the line by Nat Lofthouse but the incident led to a change in the law and greater protection not previously afforded to goalkeepers.
A month later he joined up with the Northern Ireland side that fought their way past Czechoslovakia and Argentina to qualify from their group with reigning champions West Germany and reach the quarter-finals. Yet injuries to key players saw an under-strength Irish side lose to France but Gregg's performance over the course of five games saw him named Goalkeeper of the Tournament in the All-Star team (later known as the Golden Glove Award) and later earn the unofficial title of European Goalkeeper of the Year after receiving the most nominations for the position in the voting for the Ballon d'Or.
Ironically, despite keeping goal for Manchester United during a relatively successful spell for the club, Gregg would end his career without a winners' medal of any kind. A year after the Munich disaster, a rebuilt United side with the goalkeeper at its heart missed out on the title to Wolverhampton Wanderers while a broken collar bone ruled him out of his side’s FA Cup win in 1963. In a cruel twist of fate he was denied a Championship title medal in 1965 after failing to play enough games over the course of the season, again due to injury, and finally left Old Trafford two-years later having been displaced by Alex Stepney.
Harry Gregg experienced tragedy both publicly and privately but was never one to feel sorry for himself. All he ever wanted was to be remembered as player who excelled in his chosen position. So here's to Harry - a very fine goalkeeper indeed.
Not many goalkeepers have had a street named after them but if you visit the city of Móstoles you'll stumble across Avenida de Iker Casillas. It's a fitting tribute to a goalkeeper who made his professional debut at 18 and then went on to enjoy a long career at the top, winning practically every possible trophy along the way.
Iker Casillas’ lists of achievements are numerous - five La Liga titles, two Copa del Rey medals, three times a Champions League winner (the first of which came just four days after his 19th birthday), two UEFA Super Cups, one Intercontinental Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup with Real Madrid alone. Along the way he picked up two European Championships and captained Spain to World Cup glory in 2010 - becoming the third goalkeeper to do so in the process - before winning the Primeira Liga with Porto in the twilight of his career. It will come as little surprise therefore to learn that the Spanish goalie is widely considered to be one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time.
Ironically, in an era when the Galácticos dominated the Bernabéu, Casillas was a product of the youth team and first choice between the sticks for the majority of his 16-year career at Madrid, eventually becoming club captain. He was a precocious talent as a youngster, earning a reputation for his acrobatic saves, but showed great maturity after breaking into the first team. In later years he seemed unbeatable at times, displaying great consistency as Spain took a stranglehold of the international scene. A renowned shot-stopper, his positioning and agility would frustrate the world's best strikers and Gordon Banks once commented "Casillas' reflexes are incredible". Yet arguably his greatest asset was his remarkable level of concentration, which came in handy when the ball spent the majority of the time at the other end of the field.
The personal achievements gained and the honours bestowed upon him testify to his individual brilliance. Between 2008 and 2012, Casillas was named IFFHS World's Best Goalkeeper five years in succession, an unprecedented feat that is unlikely to be surpassed. His last award coming in the same year that he became the first player to win 100 international matches for his country before going on to set a record of 509 minutes without conceding a goal in the European Championship. He was also named in UEFA's Team of the Year six times on the spin and won the Golden Glove when Spain lifted the World Cup in South Africa.
His longevity and relatively good luck with injuries led to 725 appearances for Real Madrid before he was left under a cloud, with club president Florentino Pérez coming in for criticism from fans who called for him to step down. He amassed a Spanish record of 167 caps, keeping 77 clean sheets in the process, and played over 1,000 matches before a heart attack seemingly brought a truly remarkable career for both club and country to a premature end.
As the saying goes, you should never judge a book by its cover. Andoni Zubizarreta didn't look much like a goalkeeper but his disheveled appearance belied an exceptional talent between the sticks.
In his prime, he was considered one of the best goalkeepers in the world thanks in part to his considered approach to the game that produced efficient and consistent displays week-in, week-out over the course of a season. Such consistency was a stark contrast to the more flamboyant yet at times erratic Luis Arconada, whose mistakes proved costly for Spain in major tournaments in the early 1980s. As such, he proved to be the perfect anecdote to Arconada for many in Spain and became one of the lynchpins of the Golden Generation of Spanish football that promised so much but ultimately failed to deliver.
Despite a relative lack of success at international level, "Zubi" enjoyed a long and fruitful club career, first with Athletic Bilbao and then with Barcelona and Valencia, having progressed through the youth ranks of Deportivo Alavés. He made his La Liga debut a month before his 20th Birthday and quickly cemented his place in the Rojiblancos' starting line-up, going on to play an instrumental role in the Bilbao's double winning season in 1983/84, having won his first La Liga winners’ medal the season before.
Zubizarreta's performances with Bilbao earned him a move to Barcelona in 1986, who broke the transfer fee record for a goalkeeper to secure his services. It was while at the Nou Camp that the Spanish international goalie enjoyed the most successful period of his career, where his confidence under pressure, measured approach and reputation as a superb shot stopper inspired a sense of calm not only amongst Barca’s back four but the entire team.
His spell with the Catalan club led to a string of trophies, including four back-to-back La Liga titles n the early 90s and two Copa del Rey triumphs. In Europe, he captained Barcelona to their first European Cup victory in 1992 at Wembley followed by the UEFA Super Cup, having already won the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup in 1989. This period of success was preceded by a more personal double triumph in 1987 when he picked up the Don Balón Award and Zamora Trophy for his performances in Spain that season.
Yet his time with Barca came to an ignominious end after the team were thrashed 4-0 by AC Milan in the 1994 Champions League Final. With manager Johan Cruyff continually frustrated by Zubizarreta’s limited ball skills with his feet, who he tried to employ as a 'sweeper keeper', the goalkeeper was considered surplus to requirements and left to join Valencia, where he enjoyed four more seasons of top-flight football. He retired after Spain’s exit at the 1998 World Cup in France, having appeared in every tournament since 1986, ending his career with a then-Spanish record of 126 caps and just shy of 1,000 competitive matches.
At first glance, Malcolm Finlayson may seem like an odd choice for inclusion in this list of great goalkeepers, even more so when you consider that he failed to win a single international honour. Yet a great goalkeeper is the backbone of a great side and he kept goal at the heart of the last great Wolverhampton Wanderers side that won back-to-back League titles at the end of the 1950s and came within a League game of being the first team to do the double in the 20th Century.
Born in Alexandria, Scotland in 1930, Finlayson’s football career almost came to a premature end when he left school at the tender age of 14 to work in the Clydeside shipyards because his parents could no longer keep him in full-time education. Determined to carry on playing, he joined Renfrew Juniors and had trials with Celtic and Dumbarton but neither club was willing to take a chance on the youngster. However, such was his reputation with Scottish junior football that Millwall invited him down to London in February 1948 to take part in a behind-closed-doors friendly against Charlton Athletic. Suitably impressed, they signed the 17-year-old on the spot.
The Lions through the young Scot straight into the first team but although he was unable to keep his new club in the Second Division, they knew they had landed themselves a bargain. He quickly became a firm favourite with fans at The Den, in part for his precocious talent and ability but also for his courage. He cemented his reputation with the Millwall faithful in November 1948 in a game against Walsall when he ended up in hospital after diving at the feet of an opponent and receiving a nasty cut for his trouble. He returned to the ground with a club official to find the gates locked and undaunted, scaled the gates to take his place in goal, much to the relief of stand-in Jimmy Constantine. At the time, the Lions were losing 3-1 but inspired by Finlayson’s dedication to the cause, they fought back to win 6-5!
He continued to enhance his reputation at the Den with a string with impressive performances but with the Lions stuck in the Third Division, they decided to cash-in on the goalkeeper in 1956 after over 250 appearances (a total that would have been a lot higher but for his National Service). Several top-flight clubs, including Millwall's neighbours Charlton, were interested in signing the Scot but it was Wolves, looking for a potential replacement for the aging Bert Williams, who captured his signature in 1956 for £4,000.
Having competed with Williams for the Number One spot at Molineux, Finlayson made the goalkeeper shirt his own following the England international's retirement in 1957 and became a formidable presence. Renowned for his great positional sense and agility behind a well-organised defence, he was the ideal fit for Stan Cullis’s all-conquering side that beat a number of top European sides, including reigning European Champions Real Madrid, in a series of midweek floodlit friendlies. Cullis was certainly a fan of the young keeper, telling the board of directors, who had their doubts, that the goalkeeping gloves were in safe hands after Williams retired.
Wolves duly won the League title in Finlayson’s first full season in 1957/58, yielding fewer goals (47) than they had in any League programme since 1949-50, and successfully defended their title the following year. However, an unexpected defeat on the last day of the season saw Burnley pip them to a third successive triumph. A week later they lifted the FA Cup, with the goalie keeping a clean sheet in a 3-0 victory over Blackburn Rovers, but despite this success, Scotland chose not to select Finlayson due to an antiquated policy of only picking home-based players. As a consequence, the keeper was overlooked for the 1958 World Cup.
Finlayson's career came to a premature end in September 1963 when he broke a finger during a match against Liverpool at Anfield. Despite the 6-0 scoreline he was quick to highlight the fact that it was one of the best games of his career, with his acrobatics keeping the Reds at bay, and as he left the pitch he was given an ovation by the Kop. He would go on to enjoy a successful business career and later join the board at Wolverhampton Wanderers, having turned down a similar position at Millwall.
Thomas N'Kono was a trailblazer for African goalkeepers in the 1980s, helping to banish some of the prejudices in the game that were largely based on the infamous World Cup game between Yugoslavia and Zaire in 1974. According to some, black keepers couldn’t keep goal as well as their white counterparts and weren’t to be trusted between the sticks. Yet in 1982 N'Kono almost single-handedly debunked that perception with a thrilling series of performances during the Finals held in Spain as Cameroon bowed out in the First Round undefeated.
It was a remarkable achievement for N'Kono, who was virtually unknown going into the tournament outside of Africa, despite having been African Football of the Year in 1979. Even more so when you consider that Cameroon were drawn in a group that that contained eventual winners Italy and semi-finalists Poland, not to mention Peru, who were a powerhouse of South American football at the time. However, the Africans conceded just one goal in the three games – a header from Francesco Graziani after N'Kono lost his footing – but it was enough to eliminate the team by the slenderest of margins as they finished third behind the Italians, who had scored one more goal.
Despite his side’s failure to progress, N'Kono would remain in Spain. He had caught the eye of a number of admirers thanks to his athletic and dynamic style in goal but it was Espanol who captured his signature. He went on to make over 300 competitive appearances and played in the 1988 UEFA Cup Final during eight seasons with the Catalan club. However, domestic honours would ultimately elude him in Europe and his club career was bookended by trophy-laden seasons in Africa, where he won five Cameroon League titles and two African continental titles in 1978 and 1980, and Bolivia, where he won two Championships before hanging up his gloves.
Throughout the 80s he enjoyed a rivalry with Joseph-Antoine Bell, who would pip N'Kono to the IFFHS African Goalkeeper of the Century title. It was likened to the Shilton/Clemence rivalry that dominated English football at the start of the decade but although Bell was favourite to keep goal at Italia 90, it was N'Kono who would be first choice for the tournament.
Having won the Africa Cup of Nations in 1984 and finished runners-up in 1986, Cameroon surprisingly missed the World Cup in Mexico when they were knocked out by Zambia. Very little was expected of them four years later when they were drawn against reigning champions Argentina, but they stunned Maradona and co with a famous 1-0 victory in the San Siro. Thanks to the goals of Roger Milla, the Africans powered their way to the quarter-finals, where they came unstuck in extra time against England after being 2-1 up.
N'Kono returned to the World stage in 1994, coming out of international retirement, but by then he was third choice. His legacy – and reputation – was assured when Italy's Gianluigi Buffon revealed he was inspired to become a goalkeeper after being inspired by N’Kono’s aggressive but composed unique style of play, having watched him in at Italia 90. High praise indeed for a goalkeeper that broke the mould.
It’s fair to say that the Second World War robbed Frank Swift of true greatness, delaying his international career and potentially denying him further club honours. Such is his reputation, however, that the Manchester City goalkeeper still regularly sneaks into the top five of all-time great England keepers, despite retiring before the likes of Ray Clemence and Peter Shilton could walk, let alone save a football.
Swift seemed destined for greatness from an early age, having earned a move to non-league Fleetwood as a teenager after they spotted him playing for his work side, Blackpool Gas Works. His performances with the club, which included a Lancashire Combination Cup triumph, attracted the attention of a number of League clubs, including Blackpool where his elder brother Fred was first choice keeper. Yet it was Man City that signed Swift, initially as an amateur in October 1932 before he turned professional the following month for the princely sum of ten shillings a week.
He made his debut on Christmas Day, 1933 on the eve of his 20th birthday. Despite having played a mere handful of reserve matches, he was called into action following an injury to first-choice keeper Len Langford and an uncertain performance by his back-up, Jim Nicholl, who had conceded eight in the previous game against Wolverhampton Wanderers. Although the youngster was beaten four times by Derby County at the Baseball Ground, he kept a clean sheet in the following day against the same opposition at Maine Road. Swift did enough over the two games to keep his place in the side, starting a run of over 200 consecutive games for Manchester City.
Swift’s debut season would end in glory when his side beat Portsmouth 2-1 to lift the FA Cup and the young keeper ended up making the headlines in the following day’s newspapers when he fainted at the final whistle. Three seasons later, Swift would achieve a personal double when City won the League title. However, they club were surprisingly relegated the following campaign, despite outscoring every other team in Division One.
Swift continued to play during the War, appearing as a guest for a number of clubs, including Liverpool, Charlton Athletic and Fulham, and also for England but he had to wait until 1946 to officially make his international debut in a 7-2 victory over Ireland. He would go on to win 19 caps in total – plus one appearance for a Great Britain XI in 1947 – and became the first goalkeeper since Alexander Morten in 1873 to captain the side when England played Italy in Turin in 1948. It was a match that saw Swift excel in his chosen position, making a number of spectacular saves, including an excellent double stop, to keep the reigning World champions at bay in a 4-0 victory.
At club level, he helped City return to the top flight at the first attempt, keeping a record number of 17 clean sheets as his side won the Second Division. However, age was not on his side and although he was still performing at the age of 35, he decided to retire at the top, bowing out in 1949 (although City kept hold of his registration to prevent other clubs including Manchester United, from trying to persuade the goalkeeper out of retirement). He turned his hand to journalism and was covering United’s progress in Europe when he was killed, alongside members of the Busby Babes, in the Munich air disaster of 1957.
Such was Swift’s impact on the English game that he was named as one of the Football League’s 100 legends in 1998 to celebrate the 100th season of professional football and was named as inspiration by those that followed him into the game, including Joe Corrigan and Alex Stepney.
Ivo Viktor has something of an image problem. Despite being held in high regard as one of the best goalkeepers of his generation, few people have heard of him, let alone remember him. Yet he was placed third in the voting for the 1976 Ballon d'Or, the year he helped Czechoslovakia to the European Championship title, and was named Player of the Year in his homeland five times. So why has he seemingly disappeared from public consciousness?
Despite being a member of a very talented Czech side, the national team failed to live up to their promise in the World Cup during the Seventies. Indeed, the side of 1970 was expected to eclipse the team that finished Runners Up eight years earlier but bad leadership, poor preparation and internal fighting ultimately derailed their challenge. In 1974 and then 1978 they failed to qualify, beaten in the group stages on both occasions by a Scotland side at the height of their powers. At club level, Viktor was unable to enjoy the freedom of a move to a club west of the Iron Curtain and spent the majority of his career at Dukla Prague. As a consequence, he was rarely pictured in the football annuals that would regularly feature his contemporaries.
Ironically, Viktor would probably not make the grade these days. Standing at just over 5'10", he would be considered too small. He was also unable to bend his little finger, the result of a boyhood gym accident that would arguably see him fail a club medical today. He overcame these disadvantages, making the most of his immense flexibility and lightning reactions to develop into a top goalkeeper, renowned not only for his bravery but ability to organise his defence.
By the age of 22, he had won his first League title. A year later he won his first Cup medal and in 1966 he won his first cap, making his debut against Brazil at the Maracana, the same year he won the double with Dukla. However, it was a game against England at Wembley, shortly after they won the World Cup, that Viktor truly announced his arrival on the international stage. He almost single-handedly repelled England's attacks in a match in which the home team dominated and earned rave reviews in the British press the following day as Czechoslovakia held out for a 0-0 draw. After the game, Lev Yashin took the goalkeeper under his wing and helped raise his profile.
Viktor would break English hearts in qualifying for the European Championships in 1976, with the Czechs pipping England by a single point. In the Finals in Yugoslavia he cemented his reputation, making a number of key saves in two stand-out performances against the Netherlands in the semi-final and West Germany in the final. Having been beaten by Bernd Hölzenbein in the last minute for Germany's equaliser, he showed great character to keep the opposition at bay during extra time before Czechoslovakia's famous penalty shoot-out win.
His bravery ended his career shortly after that triumph. Having suffered a back injury in training, Viktor played in a league match the following day as both back-up keepers were also injured. The goalkeeper was later diagnosed with a protruding disc and complications set in as a result. The following year, in a game against Hungary, he played a symbolic two minutes in his 63rd and final international before being substituted, bringing down the curtain on an extraordinary career.
Sam Hardy was the player who set the standards for other goalkeepers to follow at international level. By the time he’d hung his gloves up at the end of a career, he had won more caps and recorded more clean sheets than any other England goalkeeper, including three in a row in 1909 – a first for an international. Hardy also enjoyed the longest career of any English keeper until Peter Shilton finally surpassed his benchmark in 1983. But for the First World War, which robbed him of nearly six years, his stats would be even more impressive and would have potentially stood for much longer.
Born in 1882, Hardy began his career at his local club, Newbold, White Star, where his performances attracted the attentions of Chesterfield ad Derby County. It was the Spireites who won the race for the goalkeeper’s signature, with manager Jack Hoskin making the signing under a lamp post to be sure he got his man. Legend has it that Hardy stalled until he received the salary he was after (13 shillings more than the club’s original offer) but it proved to be money well spent as the goalkeeper went on to record 30 clean sheets in his 77 appearances, almost one every two games. Yet it was a 6-1 defeat to Liverpool in a Second Division fixture that earned him a move to Anfield and ultimately earned him international recognition and honours.
Liverpool’s manager, Tom Watson, was impressed by Hardy’s performance, despite the score, believing that if it wasn’t for the keeper the score would have been much higher and paid Chesterfield £500 to secure his services in the Summer of 1905. Initially he was to serve as backup to Ned Doig but Hardy as given his chance in October the same year in a match against Nottingham Forest. Liverpool won 4-1 and Hardy kept his place for the rest of the campaign. It would end in triumph for the Reds, as they bagged their second League title.
Hardy would go to make nearly 250 appearances for Liverpool, winning his first England cap and earning the nickname ‘Safe and Steady Sam’ in the process. He was allowed to leave for Aston Villa for the princely sum of £1500 in 1912, by which time he had established himself as one of the greatest keepers of the pre-War era. He would go on to win two FA Cups with the Midlands club either side of the conflict and served the Royal Navy both at sea and in goal during the Great War. In 1920 he won his last cap in a 5-4 victory over Scotland at Hillsborough, aged 37 but declined an invitation to join the FA’s tour of South Africa that summer, which hastened the end of his international career.
He left Villa Park the following season, accepting one final challenge with Nottingham Forest, with whom he would win the Second Division title before finally calling a day on his career in 1925. His legacy was such that he was voted Goalkeeper of the Decade in a review of the 20th Century and included in the BBC’s list of Football Legends in 2018. He was also named as one of the 100 Players Who Shook The Kop in an official club poll and is often name-checked as one of the true goalkeeping greats of Anfield.
It is fair to say that Hope Solo is the arguably greatest female goalkeeper to ever play the game. In terms of reputation, achievements and profile, no other keeper comes close, with a career record that many of her male counterparts would be envious of.
Surprisingly, she did not become a goalkeeper until she attended the University of Washington, having made her mark as a striker at high school, scoring 109 goals and leading her team to a State Championship in her senior year. Once she made the switch, Solo excelled in her new position, breaking a number of varsity records and being nominated for the Hermann Trophy in the process, having been an NSCAA All-American three years on the spin.
Breaking records would be a common theme in Solo’s career. In 2016 she became the first goalkeeper in history to record 100 clean sheets at international level when she kept South Africa at bay in a game that also proved to be the keeper’s 150th career victory and would end her illustrious career with 102 shutouts to her name. During her time with Team USA Solo amassed 202 appearances, notched up the longest undefeated streak (55 games) and played 1,256 consecutive minutes, all three a national record.
In 2009 Solo was voted U.S. Soccer Female Athlete of the Year and was recognised as the IFFHS World's Best Woman Goalkeeper four years on the spin, thanks in part to her performances at the Olympics and World Cup in what proved to be a golden era for the United States Women’s team. She won consecutive Olympic Golds in 2008 and 2012 and would finally enjoy World Cup glory in 2015 having finished runners-up four years previously. She earned the Golden Glove in both tournaments and picked up the Bronze Ball in 2011 having been voted third best player of the competition. Her final accolade at international level would be victory in the inaugural SheBelieves Cup in 2016 after a quarter-final defeat on penalties by Sweden ended American hopes of an Olympic treble.
Solo was an athlete driven by a desire to win, a trait that occasionally landed her in trouble with national selectors, none more so than when she courted controversy with her post-match comments after the aforementioned penalty shoot-out. She was also accused of gamesmanship when attempting to put the opposition off by changing gloves between kicks but her actions were no different to the “spaghetti legs” of Grobbelaar and Dudek, if not in the true spirit of the Games. Occasionally, her outbursts were justified. In 2007, having played all four games in the 2007 World Cup and kept three clean sheets, she was surprisingly dropped in favour of veteran Briana Scurry for the semi-final against Brazil, which they lost 4-0. Upset by the decision, Solo publicly criticised coach Greg Ryan but found herself ostracised by her teammates as a result and earned herself a reputation as a result.
The incident arguably spurred Hope to greater glory and at times she single-handedly kept the opponents at bay, such as in the Gold Medal match against Brazil at the 2008 Olympics where she produced a powerhouse performance to secure victory. Four years later she denied Japan’s Mana Iwabuchi in the closing stages of the final once again with a spectacular save, one arguably only bettered by a goal-line stop of a deflected shot against Canada in a warm-up match shortly before the Games, proving in the process what a special talent she was between the sticks.
Ironically, for a goalkeeper, José Luis Chilavert is best remembered for his exploits at the other end of the field rather than for his performances in goal. His career total of 67 is second only to Brazilian Rogério Ceni and he still holds the record for most goals scored by a goalkeeper at international level, with eight to his name. Such was the novelty at the time that his efforts in front of goal earned Chilavert worldwide fame yet it also meant that his talents as a keeper were often overlooked.
Something of precocious talent, he made his debut with Sportivo Luqueño at the age of seventeen, spending two seasons with the club (scoring four goals) before moving onto Guarani. Despite only spending one campaign with the club, he won the Primera title and earned a move to Argentina’s San Lorenzo. After three seasons, Chilavert joined Real Zaragoza, where his antics gave the fans palpitations, and won his first cap with Paraguay in 1989, scoring his first international goal in the same year. However, his third year in Spain saw his first team opportunities limited and the following summer he returned to Argentina Vélez Sarsfield, spending ten successful seasons at the José Amalfitani Stadium.
The honours flowed with El Fortín, winning the Argentine title, the Copa Libertadores, the Intercontinental Cup, Copa Interamericana and the Supercopa Sudamericana. He was also name Footballer of the Year in 1996, the same year he was named South American Footballer of the Year. Ironically, despite those honours, he missed out on the IFFHS World’s Best Goalkeeper that year but won the award three times in total between 1995 and 1998.
A confident shot-stopper with a strong personality, football’s global audience got a glimpse of the leadership qualities that made him so popular in Argentina at the 1998 World Cup finals, where he captained Paraguay with aplomb and almost single-handedly dragged his team out of the group stages, keeping two clean sheets and almost scoring against Bulgaria with a direct freekick. He kept eventual winners France at bay for 90 minutes before his side succumbed to a Laurent Blanc golden goal but by then he had proved that his boasts about being the World’s best goalkeeper before the tournament were not without substance.
His performances in the competition attracted a number of admirers and a big money move to Europe seemed on the cards when Liverpool made a bid to take him to Merseyside but the club failed to meet Vélez Sarsfield’s valuation of the player and Chilavert was left frustrated when the proposed transfer collapsed. A move to Strasbourg eventually materialised a couple of years later but by then the goalkeeper was in the twilight of his career. A second World Cup appearance saw Paraguay again progress to the last sixteen before he finally hung up his gloves two years later, having won the Uruguayan League title with Peñarol. Awarded a testimonial, he fittingly found the net in what proved to be the last game of an exceptional and varied career.
At times you would look at Edwin van der Sar and worry about him snapping in two if a gust of wind blew across the pitch. Yet his tall but slender physique belied an exceptional agility and athleticism that combined with excellent positioning and shot-stopping capabilities made him arguably one of the finest goalkeepers in history.
He first came to prominence with Louis van Gaal’s successful Ajax side of the early ‘90s that would go on to win the Champions League with Van der Sar between the sticks. Yet despite his relative youth when he claimed the number one spot, he was not a product of the club’s prodigious youth academy. Indeed, the Dutchman was almost twenty years old when he was spotted by Van Gaal’s scouts playing youth football for VV Noordwijk and quickly snapped up. It was an inspired signing and Van Der Sar would enjoy a successful spell with the Amsterdam side, claiming four league titles, three domestic cups, the UEFA Cup and the Intercontinental Cup alongside their Champions League victory.
His performances earned a move to Juventus, who beat Manchester United to his signature, and he reputedly became the first non-Italian to keep goal for the club when he made his debut against Reggina. However, he would only stay in Turin for two seasons, making a surprise move to newly promoted Fulham in England after the Bianconneri opted to splash out a world record fee to capture the services of Gianluigi Buffon.
After four seasons at Craven Cottage, he finally moved to Old Trafford, where he enjoyed the most successful spell of his career, the highlight of which was arguably his second Champions League triumph in 2008, when he was named Man of the Match and became one of the select few to have won Europe’s most prestigious club competition with two different clubs. In 2009 Van der Sar enjoyed a run of clean sheets that saw him claim first the English then the British record of most minutes without conceding a goal. He would go on to claim the record for a single season, accumulating 1311 minutes before he was finally beaten by Newcastle United’s Peter Løvenkrands.
A force between the posts, he is often held up as a fine example of a goalkeeper who was comfortable with the ball at his feet. His accurate distribution and ability to control the ball with both feet made him a pioneer of the ‘Sweeper-Keeper’ style of play, particularly at Ajax, and he was able to launch decisive counter-attacks from his own area or build attacking plays by passing the ball out from the back.
On the international stage he won a record 130 caps with the Netherlands but honours would escape him, despite making appearances in five major finals. The Oranje would fall agonisingly short on three occasions, reaching the last four of the 1998 World Cup and the European Championships in 2000 and 2004. He ended his international career by coming out of retirement as a favour to new coach Bert van Marwijk who, deprived of the talents of Maarten Stekelenburg and Henk Timmer through injury, asked Van der Sar to keep goal for two qualifiers for the 2010 World Cup. Naturally, the goalkeeper kept a clean sheet in both games against Norway and Iceland before finally hanging up his gloves.
England had a big problem with finding a goalkeeper following the First World War, a problem that was not solved until Harry Hibbs made his debut in November 1929. In the intervening period selectors had tried over 20 different keepers, with only three of them managing to make over five appearances for their county. Then along came Birmingham City’s custodian, who would go on to make the position his own, becoming England’s most capped goalkeeper in history and setting a new record for the number of clean sheets in the process.
Ironically, his style of play was very similar to the man whose records he overtook - Sam Hardy. Brave and agile, he liked to keep things simple. This unspectacular approach was the bedrock of his consistency, making him a highly reliable goalkeeper in the process. Yet Hibbs almost missed out on a professional career, having left school at an early age to help support his family by working at a local coal mine.
While training to become a plumber, he played for local club sides Wilnecote Holy Trinity and Tamworth Castle, where he attracted the attention of Birmingham City, who signed him for the princely sum of a friendly match. He has already distinguished himself at junior level so it was no great surprised when he made his debut at 17. He quickly established himself as first choice at St. Andrews and would go on to play nearly 400 games for the club before retiring in 1940 but it was the arrival of manager Leslie Knighton that propelled Hibbs career to greater heights.
Under Knighton’s guidance, Hibbs’s talents began to be recognised further afield. Three appearances for the Football League XI was followed by selection for an FA Tour of South Africa in 1929, where his performances earned him that first call-up to the England team. He kept a clean sheet as they thumped Wales 6-0 in at Stamford Bridge, the first of ten shut-outs in a six-year international career that saw him win 25 caps. Along the way, he was selected for another FA Tour, this time of Canada, and no-one ever scored a penalty when Hibbs was in goal (he saved Fred Keenor of Wales’ spot-kick in 1980 and saw two other attempts missed) but this an era when the Home Nations turned their back on the World Cup so the only international titles Hibbs ever won was the British Home Championship. But with him in goal, England won four of the six tournaments he competed in.
At club level, Hibbs was on the losing side in the 1931 FA Cup final, as Birmingham lost 2-1 to a West Bromwich Albion side that featured his cousin, Harold Pearson. Yet in an era of chop and change, when the England side was subjected to the whims and caprices of a selection committee, he was a mainstay of the national side and set the standards and milestones for the likes of Ron Springett and Gordon Banks to follow.
Karl-Oskar ‘Kalle’ Svensson enjoyed a remarkable career as part of Sweden’s national team, winning a medal at every major tournament he attended. It’s a record that would be the envy of most goalkeepers. The fact he worked as a fireman in his hometown of Helsingborg when not keeping goal makes his achievements even more remarkable.
Svensson’s career started while the world was at war, making his Allsvenskan debut as an 18-year-old for Helsingborgs in 1944, the club with whom he would make nearly 350 appearances. By the time he was 23-years-old, he had an Olympic gold medal and an international cap to his name in what could fairly be described as a meteoric rise. He made his debut in an impressive 3-1 win over England and became a mainstay of the national side for the next nine years, winning a record 73 caps.
His success with Sweden continued throughout the next decade and he was part of the squad that travelled to the World Cup in Brazil, where they finished a creditable third, thanks in part to two outstanding performances by the goalkeeper against fellow Europeans Italy and Spain which earned him the nickname Rio-Kalle. This was followed by another Olympics in neighbouring Finland in 1952, where he picked up a bronze medal, having been unlucky enough to play the Mighty Magyar side in the semi-finals. However, Svensson was denied the opportunity of a third Olympic appearance when Sweden declined to enter the next games in Australia, which followed missing out on the 1954 World Cup, the first time they had failed to qualify.
The next edition of the tournament was on home soil and Svensson and his teammates rose to the occasion, reaching the final in Stockholm. They may have lost 5-2 to a Pele-inspired Brazil but their performances saw them beat Hungary, Mexico, USSR and holders West Germany along the way, with Svensson conceding just two goals en route to the final.
However, in many ways his club career was the antithesis of his international experiences. He holds the unwanted record of most goals conceded in the Allsvenskan, although this can be partly attributed to the number of games he played, and his 18 years with Helsingborgs proved to be a barren spell for the club. Yet it wasn’t for the want of trying - Di Röe twice finished runners-up, having missed out in goal difference in the 1948/49 season and finishing a point behind GAIS in 1953/54. There was some consolation for Svensson when he became the first goalkeeper to receive Sweden’s Player of the Year award in 1952.
An agile and athletic goalkeeper, Svensson finally retired in 1962 after one last hurrah with his hometown club, who honoured him with a statue outside of the Olympiastadion clutching a ball while wearing his familiar cloth cap.