Neuer, Yashin, Buffon: Who is the greatest goalkeeper of all time?

  • Rob Swan

When it comes to the debate over the greatest footballer of all time, goalkeepers rarely get a mention.

You’ll often hear the names of Pele, Diego Maradona, Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Alfredo Di Stefano, Zinedine Zidane, Johan Cruyff and dozens more outfield players.

But what about the ‘keepers? Shouldn’t the likes of Manuel Neuer, Gianluigi Buffon and Lev Yashin at least be part of the conversation?

Over on, football fans have been voting for the best goalkeepers of all time.

The list was recently updated and 240,000 fans have voted at the time of writing. But who, in the eyes of these football fans, is the greatest ‘keeper ever?

Let’s take a closer look at the top 25…

25. Peter Shilton

One of England’s greatest ever goalkeepers, no footballer has won more caps (125) for the Three Lions than Peter Shilton, who played for a host of clubs during his 30-year professional career including Leicester City and Nottingham Forest.


24. Thibaut Courtois

Real Madrid and Belgium’s current No. 1 goalkeeper, Thibaut Courtois has also won titles with both Atletico Madrid and Chelsea.


23. David Seaman

Arsenal legend David Seaman made 564 appearances for the Gunners. He also played 75 times for England and famously starred for his country at Euro ’96.


22. Marc-Andre ter Stegen

Barcelona’s first-choice goalkeeper, Marc-Andre ter Stegen has been hugely consistent for his club in recent seasons. The Germany international is undoubtedly one of the world’s best ‘keepers right now.


21. Jens Lehmann

Jens Lehmann spent four years with Borussia Dortmund before joining Arsenal in 2003. The former Germany international was part of the Gunners’ legendary ‘Invincibles’ side and holds the UEFA Champions League record for most consecutive clean sheets (10).


20. Guillermo Ochoa

A good goalkeeper? Yes. Better than the likes of Ter Stegen and Shilton? Not for us.

Guillermo Ochoa, who has made 110 appearances for Mexico, currently plies his trade with Club America following eight years in Europe.


19. Hugo Lloris

Tottenham’s No. 1 since 2012, Hugo Lloris became a World Cup winner with France in 2018.


18. Jan Oblak

Like Ter Stegen, Jan Oblak has been remarkably consistent since moving to Spain. The Atletico Madrid star is one of the finest goalkeepers of his generation.


17. Sepp Maier

One of Germany’s best ever ‘keepers, Sepp Maier spent his entire professional career with Bayern Munich, winning four Bundesliga titles and three European Cups in the process. He also helped Germany win the 1974 World Cup, plus the 1972 European Championship.


16. Gordon Banks

Widely regarded as England’s greatest ever goalkeeper, Gordon Banks was the man between the sticks when the Three Lions lifted the World Cup in 1966. The former Leicester City and Stoke City star passed away in 2019 at the age of 81.


15. Fabien Barthez

Fabien Barthez could be unpredictable - just ask Manchester United fans - but the Frenchman was a top goalkeeper on his day. Barthez was in goal when Les Bleus won both the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000.


14. Keylor Navas

Still a little underrated by some football fans, Keylor Navas has enjoyed a huge amount of success in recent years. The Costa Rica international helped Real Madrid win an unprecedented three consecutive Champions League titles and is now Paris Saint-Germain’s No. 1.


13. David de Gea

Arguably the world’s best goalkeeper for a brief period of time at his peak, David de Gea has largely been worth his weight in gold for Manchester United since leaving Atletico Madrid in 2011. The 30-year-old’s form over the past 24-36 months has been inconsistent, though, and there are fears his best days are already behind him.


12. Jose Luis Chilavert

Jose Luis Chilavert is part of the incredibly small group of legendary ‘keepers who also loved to score a goal. The Paraguayan, who spent most of his career in South America, scored 59 goals for his clubs plus eight more for his national team.


11. Dino Zoff

The Italian, now 79 years old, famously played for the likes of Napoli and Juventus. He won the World Cup in 1982 and the European Championship 14 years earlier.


10. Igor Akinfeev

Iker Akinfeev, now 34, has spent his entire career with CSKA Moscow since making his debut back in 2002. The Russian has made over 630 senior appearances at club level, plus 111 more for his country.

Despite those impressive stats, it’s somewhat surprising to see him inside the top 10 above goalkeepers like Zoff and Banks.


9. Oliver Kahn

A fantastic goalkeeper, Oliver Kahn is best remembered for his 14-year spell with Bayern Munich, where he won multiple titles including eight Bundesliga titles and the UEFA Champions League.

Kahn was a runner-up with Germany at the 2002 World Cup but won the Golden Ball that tournament. He also finished third in the voting for both the 2001 and 2002 Ballon d’Or awards.


8. Edwin van der Sar

An outstanding goalkeeper who enjoyed arguably shone brightest during the final years of his career with Manchester United, where he won four Premier League titles and the UEFA Champions League.

Van der Sar also starred for Ajax in the 1990s before moving on to Juventus and Fulham.


7. Petr Cech

Arguably the greatest goalkeeper of the Premier League era, Petr Cech won four league titles with Chelsea, plus the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League. The 38-year-old spent the final four years of his career with Arsenal, although he is listed as Chelsea’s current emergency goalkeeper.


6. Peter Schmeichel

Alongside Cech, Peter Schmeichel is widely regarded as the Premier League’s most legendary goalkeeper. The world-class Dane won five league titles with Manchester United, as well as the Champions League in 1999.


5. Iker Casillas

Best remembered for his glittering 16-year senior career with Real Madrid, Iker Casillas played 725 times for Los Blancos before moving to FC Porto in 2015. Casillas was also Spain’s No. 1 goalkeeper during the country’s most successful period in their history between 2008-2012, when La Roja won two European Championships and the World Cup.


4. Manuel Neuer

An unorthodox but supremely talented goalkeeper, Manuel Neuer has enjoyed huge success with Bayern Munich and Germany over the past decade. One of the bravest and most confident ‘keepers ever seen, it’s not unusual to see Neuer 30+ yards off his line.


3. Gianluigi Buffon

Still going strong at the age of 43, Gianluigi Buffon is a much-loved figure in the world of football. The Juventus legend played 178 times for Italy between 1997-2018 and lifted the World Cup in 2006.


2. Rinat Dasayev

Perhaps not a name that many younger football fans will be overly familiar with, Rinat Dasayev spent most of his playing career with Spartak Moscow but also captained the Soviet Union to a place in the 1988 European Championship final.


1. Lev Yashin

One of football’s truly legendary names, Lev Yashin spent his entire professional career with Dynamo Moscow - but it was his performances at international level with the Soviet Union that caught the world’s attention.

Yashin helped his country win the 1960 European Championship and also sealed a Gold Medal at the 1956 Olympic Games.

‘The Black Spider’ is the only goalkeeper in history to win the prestigious Ballon d’Or award. In 1963, he beat AC Milan’s Gianni Rivera and Tottenham’s Jimmy Greaves to the individual accolade.

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