Neuer, Buffon, Casillas: Who is the greatest goalkeeper of the 21st century?

  • Kobe Tong

Goalkeepers are arguably the most important players in the world of football.

The adage goes that you can’t be a top team without a top goalkeeper and it’s tough to disagree when you look back at the numbers ones who played for some of the greatest sides in history.

Whether it’s Dino Zoff, Lev Yashin or Sepp Maier, countless legendary goalkeepers have provided the foundations for world-class teams, acting as safety blankets for all the outfield brilliance.

Legendary goalkeepers

However, the modern era has arguably been the most bountiful as far as goalkeeping is concerned with the last 20 years seeing a number of shot-stoppers earn legendary status between the sticks.

And that’s exactly what the International Federation of Football History & Statistics (IFFHS) has decided to look at this week by drawing up their picks for the best goalkeepers of the 21st century.

It’s a tough task, I’m sure you’ll agree, so they’ve devised a points system that allows them to go back through their annual rankings of the world’s best goalkeepers and amalgamate them into one.


Greatest goalkeepers of the 21st century

In other words, sustained quality really does pay, so be sure to check out how the best shot-stoppers of the last 21 years shaped up with the IFFHS’ official top 20 down below:

20. Pepe Reina – 54

19. Fabien Barthez – 55

18. Julio Cesar – 63

17. Alisson Becker – 64


16. Roberto Abbondanzieri – 68

15. Jens Lehmann – 72

14. David de Gea – 75

13. Marc-Andre ter Stegen – 78


12. Jan Oblak – 85

11. Dida – 90

10. Keylor Navas – 93

9. Oliver Kahn – 99


8. Edwin van der Sar – 105

7. Hugo Lloris – 106

6. Victor Valdes – 113

5. Thibaut Courtois – 130


4. Manuel Neuer – 183

3. Petr Cech – 218

2. Iker Casillas – 244

1. Gianluigi Buffon – 330


Buffon’s greatness

It’s pretty hard to disagree with the rankings, let’s face it.

The century might only be 21 years old, but that’s still longer than some football careers last and you’d be hard-pressed to find a goalkeeper who has been more consistent than Buffon.

Give or take his infamous lack of a Champions League title, the Italian legend has won everything worth winning in the beautiful game, helping inspire Italy to FIFA World Cup glory in 2006.


Buffon might have been reduced to a second-choice goalkeeper as he ploughs into his forties, but let his latest accolade remind everyone why he deserves his lap of honours at Juventus.

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