Goalkeepers are often overlooked and underrated in recreational football matches. However, things become absolutely different when you talk about professional football matches. And they are responsible for blocking any attack to get past the 7.32 x 2.44-meter crosspiece. But do you know who the most successful goalkeepers of all time are?
Italian star goalie Gianluigi Buffon is surely the most successful goalkeeper of all time, with a total of 176 caps for the Italian national team, 526 caps for Serie A side Juventus, and 194 caps in total for Parma. Buffon was also named the IFFHS World’s Best Goalkeeper a record five times.
However, Lev Yashin of the Soviet Union national team, Iker Casillas of the Spanish national team, and Peter Schmeichel of the Danish national side are also counted among the greatest goalkeepers. But these are not all! So, let’s check out the complete list.
Most Successful Goalkeepers – All-Time FIFA Ranking
Football is not just one of the most popular sports in the world, but it is also among the highest-paying sports right now. Among several of its positions, goalkeepers or goalies are the ones who serve as the last defense of any football team. And here are the most successful goalkeepers in football history.
10. Petr Čech – Czech Republic
A professional footballer from the Czech Republic, Petr last worked for one of the Premier League champions, Chelsea, as a technical advisor and an emergency goalkeeper. He was rated one of the best goalkeepers in history by numerous players, pundits, and managers.
Čech started his senior career at Chmel Blsany in 1999, where he sporadically played for two seasons prior to moving to Sparta Prague in 2001. Due to his impressive performances and skills, Cech is one of the most successful goalkeepers of all time.
Cech has 124 caps for the Czech national team, the most in the team’s history. Before retiring from international play in 2016, he was voted to the Euro 2004 All-Star team for his role in helping the Czech Republic reach the semi-finals. Additionally, Cech holds the record for winning the Golden Ball award and the Czech Footballer of the Year award.
In 180 appearances, Cech holds the Premier League record for the fewest appearances needed to achieve 100 clean sheets. Moreover, he is the only goalkeeper to have won the Golden Glove on four different occasions for two separate clubs.
9. Edwin Van Der Sar – The Netherlands
During his time at AFC Ajax, Sar served as a professional football player and as a top executive for the club. As a member of the first group of Ajax players to win the UEFA Champions League in 1995, he was a member of the club’s golden generation and part of the first gold generation.
In 2017, Wesley Sneijder was the Netherlands’ most-capped player with 130 caps. As a goalkeeper, van der Sar is regarded as one of the best ever by critics and peers. With 26 major trophies to his name, mainly from Ajax and Manchester United, he is also one of the most successful goalkeepers ever.
He also set a world record by allowing no goals in the league for 1,311 minutes during the 2008–09 season. Sar also holds the record for the oldest player to win the Premier League, having achieved it in 2011 at the age of 40 years and 205 days.
A multiple award winner, van der Sar was ranked as the best goalkeeper in Europe in both 1995 and 2009 and the UEFA Club Goalkeeper of the Year in 2009. And during his career, he remained one of the highest-paid footballers ever to grace the field.
8. Gordon Banks – England
Banks played goalkeeping for the English national team as a professional footballer. During his professional career, Banks appeared in 679 games and won 73 caps for England, including starting all of the nation’s 1966 World Cup matches.
Despite being Stoke’s and England’s number one, he lost both his sight in his right eye and his career due to a car crash in October 1972. And the career ended right there for one of the most handsome footballers of his time.
Banks is known as one of the most successful goalkeepers in football’s history. FIFA named him Goalkeeper of the Year six times, and the FWA named him Footballer of the Year in 1972.
In its list of the top goalkeepers of the 20th century, Banks was ranked second after Lev Yashin (1st) and above Dino Zoff (3rd).
7. Dino Zoff – Italy
Former professional footballer Dino Zoff, born on 28 February 1942, played as a goalkeeper. The Italian national team captain won the 1982 World Cup at the age of 40, making him the oldest-ever winner. The best goalkeeper award also went to him.
The two clean sheets he kept at the tournament helped him attain the honor of being selected for the tournament team, which he also received after winning the 1968 European Championship on home soil.
Known as one of the most successful goalkeepers of all time, Zoff had an impressive career by avoiding injuries and exhibiting stamina, endurance, and determination. Besides, he delivered some of the most miraculous performances in several most popular football leagues around the globe.
The Italian Football Federation selected him as the best player of the last 50 years, the Golden Player award. In international football, Zoff also holds the record for allowing no goals for the most extended duration of time (1142 minutes).
6. Manuel Neuer – Germany
Neuer was born in Dortmund, Germany, on 27 March 1986. He is a professional footballer for Bayern Munich and the German national team. His accolades rank him among the top goalkeepers in the history of the sport. Besides, he is also the best football goalkeeper right now who is active in the current scenario.
Neuer is often referred to as a “sweeper-keeper” because of his style of play and ability to go out of his goalkeeper box before opponents do. He was named one of the most successful goalkeepers of the decade from 2011 to 2020 by IFFHS.
The Schalke 04 player started his career by winning the DFB-Pokal and DFL-Ligapokal. A champion at Bayern Munich since 2011, he won 28 trophies, including ten Bundesliga championships and two UEFA Champions Leagues.
Among the voting public for the FIFA Ballon d’Or award, Neuer finished third to Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in 2014. The UEFA Best Goalkeeper award and the IFFHS World’s Best Goalkeeper award have each been presented five times to him.
5. Oliver Kahn – Germany
The former goalkeeper is a German football executive, as well as a professional player. A member of the Karlsruher SC Junior team since 1975, he began his career with the team. In December 2006, Kahn also had his debut match in this experienced squad.
After joining Chelsea in 1993 and playing for them until the end of his career in 2008, he was transferred to Bayern Munich for DM 4.6 million in 1994. He has accumulated outstanding achievements throughout his career and is known as one of the most successful goalkeepers of all time.
In addition to eight titles in the Bundesliga, six DFB-Pokals, the UEFA Cup in 1996, and the UEFA Champions League in 2001, Bayern has also achieved the UEFA Intercontinental Cup. As a tribute to him, several of the best goalkeeping gloves are named after this German legend.
Furthermore, the most decorated goalkeeper of all time won three IFFHS World’s Best Goalkeeper Awards and two German Footballer of the Year Awards. With his winning of the Golden Ball in the 2002 World Cup, Kahn became the only goalkeeper in tournament history to do so.
4. Peter Schmeichel – Denmark
The former professional football player Schmeichel was a goalkeeper for the Danish national team. It was during his tenure at Manchester United, where he won the 1999 UEFA Champions League Final to complete the treble, that he achieved his most tremendous success. During his heydays, he was widely dubbed as one of the tallest athletes in the sports world.
Moreover, he won UEFA Euro 1992 with Denmark. He is known for his big unique physique with a height of 6 feet 3 inches. Additionally, Peter is the most capped player for the Denmark national team, with 129 appearances from 1987 to 2001.
His impressive performances and excellent skills have made him one of the most successful goalkeepers of all time. Several IFFHS polls recognized him as the best goalkeeper in 1992 and 1993. He also fought to be the greatest goalkeeper in Premier League history with many, including Petr Cech, by the IFFHS in 2000.
At the end of Schmeichel’s Manchester United career, he and United won the treble, the title of FA Premier League champions, the FA Cup, and the Champions League all at the same time.
3. Iker Casillas – Spain
Spanish footballer Iker Casillas Fernández is a former goalkeeper who played for Spanish teams. Casillas has a reputation as one of the greatest goalkeepers since his spectacular saves have earned him the nickname “San Iker” (Saint Iker). As one of the most talented shot-stoppers globally, he is athletic, has excellent reaction time, and is a quick-reacting player.
During his lengthy career at Real Madrid, Casillas achieved over 1000 professional matches in his career. As for the Spain national team and in the UEFA Champions League, he holds the record for the most number of clean sheets. And even after his retirement, he is still dubbed as one of the greatest footballers of all time.
He won the Yashin Award for being the best goalkeeper of the 2010 World Cup. It was Iker’s first World Cup victory as Spain’s goalkeeper. Defending their title for the second time, Spain won the European Championship again in 2012.
During the competition, he set the record for the most consecutive minutes (509) without conceding a goal. Iker is known as one of the best goalkeepers in football’s history.
2. Lev Yashin – Soviet Union
The “Black Spider,” or “Black Panther,” was a former Soviet goalkeeper. He is considered one of the most outstanding goalkeepers in the history of the game. Besides, he is also one of the tallest footballers of all time. His command over the entire defense earned Yashin his reputation for revolutionizing the position.
Throughout his career, he also kept over 270 clean sheets and won gold medals at the 1956 and 1960 Olympic football tournaments. As a goalkeeper, Yashin was the only man to receive the Ballon d’Or, which he received in 1963.
He played in four World Cups between 1958 and 1970. Besides, he was chosen in 2002 for the FIFA World Cup Dream Team. During the 1994 World Cup, he was selected for the FIFA All-Time Team, and in 1998, he was chosen as a member of the World Team of the 20th Century.
FIFA records Yashin as saving the most penalty kicks of all time in professional football. Without any doubt, he is one of the most successful players ever to participate in the FIFA World Cup.
1. Gianluigi Buffon – Italy
Italian footballer Gianluigi Buffon was born on 28 January 1978. He is a goalkeeper who plays for Serie B club Parma and also captains the team. Many people consider him to be a great goalkeeper, and some even consider him the best of all time. Besides, he remained one of the highest-paid athletes throughout his entire career.
In his professional career, he has made over 1,100 appearances, one of the few recorded players to accomplish that. During the 2015–16 season, Buffon held the record for most consecutive minutes without allowing a goal in Serie A. And between March and November of 2015–16, Buffon played 974 consecutive minutes without conceding a goal.
He is the most capped player in the history of the Italian national team, with 176 caps. And that makes him the seventh-most capped player in the world in football. Bufon won a bronze medal in the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup after playing at four European Championships. He also won two FIFA Confederations Cups and achieved success also playing for the 1996 Olympic team.
Buffon kept five clean sheets during the 2006 World Cup, a record at that time. He was honored with the Yashin Award in 2008 and elected to the tournament team in 2012. As a result of reaching the quarterfinals of the 2008 and 2012 European Championships, Buffon also received awards from UEFA.
We compile this list of the ten most successful goalkeepers of all time for you. Feel free to tell us in the comment box about the list. We appreciate your feedback.
Greatest Goalkeepers In Football | All-Time Infographics
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FAQs Regarding Most Successful Goalkeepers
Q. Who is the best goalkeeper in the world right now?
Manuel Neuer, playing for the German national football team and the Bundesliga side Bayern Munich FC, is truly the best goalkeeper in the world right now. Besides, Slovenian national Jan Oblak, currently playing for La Liga side Atlético Madrid, is also counted among the greatest.
Q. Who has the most clean sheets in soccer history?
Former English national Ray Clemence has the most clean sheets in the history of football. Besides the England team, he also served as a member of the Liverpool team. He recorded 460 clean sheets in more than 1000 official matches he ever participated in.
Q. Who has scored the most goals for a goalkeeper?
Former Brazilian goalie Rogério Ceni has the record for most goals as a goalkeeper. He has scored 131 goals, mostly through penalties and free kicks, throughout this 23-year-long professional football career. However, Tony Read and Luis Chilavert are two goalkeepers who shored hat-tricks in official matches.
Q. Who is the best penalty goalkeeper of all time?
Slovenian goalkeeper Samir Handanović, currently playing for the Serie A side Inter Milan, is the best penalty goalkeeper of all time, as he recorded 38 total saves in official matches. Italian goalie Gianluigi Buffon is next on the line with 30 penalty saves, and Brazilian goalie Diego Alves with 28 penalty saves.
Last Updated On: February 2024