Every successful team has an outstanding goalkeeper and Anfield has offered a stage to some of the safest hands in football. They are the custodians of the net and marshalls of the Red rearguard.
Here I list the top five goalkeepers who I believe have donned the gloves and stood between the sticks.
Ray Clemence was recognised as one of Europe’s finest goalkeepers. During an illustrious career at Liverpool the Skegness man won five League Championships, 1 F.A Cup, 1 League Cup, 2 UEFA Cups and three European Cups, making 656 appearances.
The Skegness man missed six games during 11 glorious years at Liverpool, winning every honour apart from the European Cup Winners' Cup.
In a case of daylight robbery, Clem was snapped up from Scunthorpe for a paltry £18,000 in 1967, taking over between the sticks from Tommy Lawrence in the 1969-70 campaign.
With 61 Caps, Clemence would have become an international centurion had he not faced such stiff competition from Peter Shilton. His calm manner, and lightning sharp reflexes were his major attributes, and after shutting out Real Madrid in Paris, Clemence surprisingly joined Tottenham hotspurs in 1981-82.
The Clown Prince of goalkeepers came from an army background, serving in the Rhodesian Army before commencing a career at Vancouver Whitecaps. As second choice to Phil Parkes, Brucie missed out on joining Big Ron at the Hawthorns, but secured a loan to Crewe Alexandra, before Liverpool Scouts took a shine to him.
Grobbelaar’s wobbly legs routine in the 1984 European Cup final against Roma are part of football folklore. His mad antics worked as Bruno Conti and Francesco Graziani blazed their spot kicks over.
The routine served as an inspiration to Jerzy Dudek in Istanbul 2005 with Jamie Carragher instructing the giant Pole to do a “Bruce Grobbelaar” during that unforgettable night.
Durban born Grobbelaar had the agility of a gymnast and was a first rate shot stopper. His centre backs were greeted with an earful during any momentary lapses and he possessed a fiery temper to match his comic wit and humour.
Grobbelaar spent 14 glorious years at Liverpool, winning six leagues, three FA Cups, three League Cups and the European Cup.
Tom Watson signed Scott in 1912, after Everton decided that he was too young to wear the Toffee Blue.
After a 4 year break due to the First World War, Scott became an integral part of the backbone of Liverpool’s back-to-back Championship winning teams of 1922 and 1923.
Scott retired in 1936, and his appearance record was broken by Billy Liddell in 1957. He died two years later. With 22 years of service, Scott is still the longest serving player in the history of Liverpool FC.
Everton legend Dixie Dean once said of the Ulsterman: "Elisha was the greatest I've ever seen. You can have Swift, Trautmann, Banks, Wilson. You can have them all. I'll take Elisha Scott."
Pepe had progressed through the ranks at Barcelona, before transferring to Villarreal who he helped secure a Champions League spot in 2004/05. Rafael Benitez bought Reina after he had saved 7 of 9 penalty kicks he had faced during the previous campaign, describing his compatriot as "the best goalkeeper in Spain."
His first year at Liverpool saw Reina set a club record 11th successive clean sheet against Deportivo Saprissa during the World Club Championships, and an FA Cup winner’s medal – saving three of four West Ham penalties during the shootout.
On the international front Spain have enjoyed tremendous goalkeeping wealth and Casillas, Canizares and Valdes have put paid to a career as his country’s number one.
During April 2007, Pepe’s 28th clean sheet broke Ray Clemence’s record. Pepe became only the third player to follow his Father Miguel Reina Santos by appearing in a European Cup final. Unfortunately, like the former Atletico Madrid stopper, Pepe was on the losing side in Athens.
The stocky Scot was Bill Shankly’s first choice until a young Ray Clemence took over. His weight aroused much banter and “The Flying Pig” was in goal as Liverpool were twice league champions and won their first ever F.A Cup.
A valiant and dependable shot stopper, Lawrence won three caps for Scotland.
Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.
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