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All time top 10 best goalkeepers in the world – Ranked

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9 mins read
Top 10 best goalkeepers of all time

Behind every successful team there is a world-class goalkeeper pulling off extraordinary saves, but who are the greatest ever male goalkeepers to have played between the sticks?
Due to playing in one of the most underrated positions on the football pitch, goalkeepers are often overlooked in favour of the more exciting and flamboyant outfield players. You’ll often see players like Pélé, Diego Maradona, Johan Cruyff, Zinedine Zidane, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Lionel Messi regarded as some of the greatest ever players to have graced the football pitch, but what about the goalkeepers? Shouldn’t the likes of Gianluigi Buffon, Manuel Neuer, and Lev Yashin at the very least be a part of this conversation?
Well, I certainly think so, and this is my take on the best goalkeepers of all time, and once you’re done with this, head over to my list of the best goalkeepers in the world right now.
Lists like these are often based on subjectivity, how one perceives the game, and their understanding of the different eras and the evolving nature of the playing styles of this beautiful game. Thus, it is quite possible that you might not agree with a few or any of my picks. Either way, I’d love to know who you consider the greatest goalkeeper of all time and why.
So, without further ado, let’s dive into it and take a look at the all-time top 10 best goalkeepers in the world.

                 List of top 10 best goalkeepers of all time in the world

S. NoNameCountryClubMatches Clean SheetsGoals Conceded Saves** Save %**
1Lev YashinThe USSRDynamo Moscow420207323--
2Iker CasillasSpainReal Madrid Porto1048440960240775.2
3Manuel NeuerGermanySchalke 04 Bayern Munich772360656164276.5
4Gianluigi BuffonItalyParma Juventus/PSG1133500942225177.5
5Oliver KahnGermanyKarlsruher SC Bayern Munich870332879107576.6
6Dino ZoffItalyUdinese/Mantova Napoli/Juventus949446771--
7Edwin van der SarNetherlandsAjax/Juventus/ Fulham/950440805157679.2
Manchester United
8Petr ČechCzech RepublicChmel Sparta Prague Rennes Chelsea/Arsenal905397811197578.2
9Peter SchmeichelDenmarkGladsaxe-Hero/Hvidovre/Brøndby/Ma nchester United/Aston Villa/Sporting FC/Manchester City66726861395876.5
10Gordon BanksEnglandChesterfield Leicester City Stoke CIty/ Cleveland Strokers/Hellenic Fort Lauderdale25974362--
Strikers/St. Patrick’s Athletics

*Lack of recorded data
**No. of saves and save percentage are subject to the recorded data availability.

#10 Gordon Banks

#10 Gordon Banks

Career Honours:

  • English League Cup x2
  • FIFA World Cup x1

Sheffield-born Gordon Banks is widely regarded as the greatest English goalkeeper of all time. He made 679 appearances in 20 years of professional football, earning 73 caps for England and featuring in every match for the Three Lions during their 1966 World Cup-winning run.

However, despite all of his above-mentioned achievements, it is that save against Brazil from the 1970 FIFA World Cup that cemented his place among some of the best goalkeepers of all time in the world, for which he will be remembered forever: Banks produced the “Save of the 20th Century” as he denied Pélé from near-point-blank range.

Banks was an excellent shot-stopper, known for his handling, awareness, composure, and mental strength, as well as his speed, quick reflexes and agility that made him produce such jaw-dropping saves like the one against Pélé.

 #9  Peter Schmeichel

 #9  Peter Schmeichel

 Career Honours:

  • English League Cup x1
  • FA Cup x3
  • English Premier League x3
  • UEFA Champions League x1
  • Euro Championship x1

Born in Gladsaxe, Copenhagen, the legendary Peter Schmeichel made 648 professional appearances—129 of them for Denmark’s national team—from 1981 to 2003, winning 24 major trophies.

A courageous and fierce competitor, Schmeichel was a vocal presence in front of the goal. Known for his unique shot-stopping abilities, he also possessed great positional awareness, handling, and had the ability to command his area authoritatively. Schmeichel was an excellent reader of the game, also adept with the ball at his feet.

Unusual for a goalkeeper, the Dane scored 11 goals in his career (including one internationally) as he would often go up for corner kicks in the opposition’s box in the dying embers of a game were his team trailing.

#8 Petr Čech

#8 Petr Čech

 Career Honours:

  • European Under-21 Champion x1
  • Czech Footballer of the Year x7
  • English League Cup x3
  • FA Cup x5
  • English Premier League x4
  • Europa Cup x1
  • UEFA Champions League x1
  • FA Community Shield x6

Petr Čech is arguably the greatest goalkeeper in Premier League history. He began his senior career at Chmel Blšany before becoming a first-team regular at Sparta Prague where he got his big break. He played for Ligue 1 club Rennes for nearly two seasons before Chelsea and José Mourinho poached him for a then club-record fee for a goalkeeper — £7 million

During his 11 years at Stamford Bridge, Čech registered 494 senior appearances for the Blues, making him the club’s highest-capped overseas player, sixth overall. The Czech Republic international also won four Premier League titles, seven domestic cups (FA Cups and League Cups) and the 2012 UEFA Champions League.

The man famous for his head cover spent the final four seasons of his professional career with city rivals Arsenal, winning the Golden Glove in his first season with the Gunners.

Čech has multiple records to his name, including most clean sheets in the Premier League (202), most clean sheets in a season (24), and requiring the fewest appearances to reach 100 career clean sheets.

#7 Edwin van der Sar

#7 Edwin van der Sar

Career Honours:

  • Eredivisie x4
  • Dutch League Cup x3
  • Dutch Super Cup x3
  • English League Cup x2
  • English Premier League x4
  • FA Community Shield x4
  • Intercontinental Cup x1
  • UEFA Champions League x1
  • UEFA Cup x1
  • UEFA Super Cup x1
  • FIFA Club World Cup x1

The current CEO of AFC Ajax and a legend of Manchester United, Edwin van der Sar showcased his best goalkeeping and shot-stopping abilities towards the latter half of his career, especially during his days at Fulham which were followed by a six-year stint at Old Trafford.

In his 21-year-long career, van der Sar made 605 senior professional appearances (representing his nation at the senior level 130 times) — the most by any player, before Wesley Sneijder crossed that mark in 2017. He won 26 trophies in his long career, mainly at Ajax and Manchester United, and in the 2008/09 season set a world record by not conceding a league goal for 1,311 minutes.

Van der Sar was a tall and athletic goalkeeper who commanded his area exceptionally well. He also had great reflexes, while his positional awareness and composure were key in prolonging his career at the highest level. The Dutchman was also renowned for his spot-kick-stopping abilities, while his composure on the ball and distribution only added more glitter to his all-around goalkeeping skills.

#6 Dino Zoff

#6 Dino Zoff

Career Honours:

  • Coppa Italia x2
  • Serie A x6
  • UEFA Cup x1
  • FIFA World Cup x1
  • Euro Championship x1

Dino Zoff is one of the best goalkeepers the world has ever seen. Period.

The 79-year-old is famous for his stints with the Italian giants Juventus and Napoli, while he is also the only Italian player in history to win both the FIFA World Cup (1982) and the European Championship (1968).

Zoff’s greatest success came during his spell with the Old Lady, where he won six Serie A titles, two Coppe Italie, one UEFA Euro Cup and also made it to two UEFA Champions League finals in 1972-73 and 1982-83 while also finishing runner-up in the 1973 Intercontinental Cup.

In a career that spanned over 22 years, Zoff made 642 senior professional appearances, winning 112 caps for the Azzurri. The IFFHS named Zoff the third greatest goalkeeper of the 20th Century, behind Gordon Banks (2nd) and Lev Yashin (1st), while he still holds the record for the longest playing time without conceding a goal at the international level (1,142 minutes), which he set between 1972 and 1974.

A well-rounded goalkeeper and a leader of men, Dino Zoff was awarded the second-best European Goalkeeper of the 20th Century award, behind only the great Lev Yashin.

#5 Oliver Kahn

#5 Oliver Kahn

Career Honours:

  • DFB-Pokal x6
  • Bundesliga x8
  • UEFA Cup x1
  • UEFA Champions League x1
  • Intercontinental Cup x1
  • Euro Championship x1

One of the most successful German players in the modern era. Oliver Kahn is the pioneer of the modern goalkeeper role.

Best remembered for his fourteen-year spell with German giants Bayern Munich, Der Titan made 630 senior professional appearances (429 for Bayern) and won a total of 86 caps for Germany.

Regarded as one of the best goalkeepers in the world ever, Kahn won a record four consecutive UEFA Best Goalkeeper awards as well as three IFFHS World’s Best Goalkeeper awards. He is the only goalkeeper in FIFA World Cup history to win the Golden Ball for his exceptional performances at the 2002 FIFA World Cup.

Known for his eccentricity and charismatic leadership from the back, Kahn was a formidable and commanding presence inside the 18-yard box. His aggressive and no-nonsense style of play earned him the nickname “King Kahn” throughout his playing career.

#4 Gianluigi Buffon

Best goalkeepers in the world - #4 Gianluigi Buffon

Career Honours:

  • European Under-21 Champion x1
  • Coppa Italia x5
  • Serie A x10
  • Ligue 1 x1
  • Italian Footballer of the Year x1
  • Italienischer Zweitligameister x1
  • UEFA Cup x1
  • Italian Super Cup x7
  • French Super Cup x1
  • FIFA World Cup x1

Gianluigi Buffon is arguably the greatest Italian goalkeeper of all time, even ahead of the great Dino Zoff. He is one of the select few to have racked up over 1,100 professional club appearances, and at 44, he is still going strong with his second stint at his  first professional club, Parma.

Afier making his club debut for Parma in 1995, Buffon quickly cemented his place as the No. 1 and helped his team win the Coppa Italia, the UEFA Cup, and the Supercoppa Italiana in 1999. In 2001, Juventus bought him for the then-world record fee for a goalkeeper of €52 million, with him having proved himself to be the best in the world in his position.

Despite playing second fiddle to Wojciech Szczęsny during the latter stages of his Juventus career, Buffon was able to break Paolo Maldini’s 647 Series A appearances record, while with 176 appearances, he remains the most-capped player in the history of the Italian men’s national team.

Buffon was the first-ever goalkeeper to win the Golden Foot award, while he was named the IFFHS World’s Best Goalkeeper a record five times (alongside Iker Casillas and Manuel Neuer).

#3 Manuel Neuer

Best goalkeepers in the world #3 Manuel Neuer

Career Honours:

  • German Under-19 Cup x1
  • European Under-21 Champion x1
  • German Footballer of the Year x2
  • DFB-Pokal x6
  • Bundesliga x9
  • UEFA Champions League x2
  • UEFA Super Cup x2
  • German Super Cup x5
  • FIFA Club World Cup x2
  • FIFA World Cup x1

The 35-year-old is arguably one of the best goalkeepers of all time in the world. Renowned for his sweeper-keeper abilities along with his imperious ball control and top-notch reflexive saves, the German is one of the most decorated players in world football.

A leader of men, Neuer led his nation to a World Cup victory in 2014, winning the Golden Glove for being the best goalkeeper in the tournament. Besides, since moving to Bayern Munich, Neuer has won a total of 26 trophies with the Bavarians, including two UEFA Champions League titles, both of which were part of Bayern’s treble-winning campaigns of 2012-13 and 2019-2020.

Neuer’s consistency, concentration levels and ability to read the game are what make him stand out from the rest. He is a complete modern goalkeeper, with many experts and publications describing him as “the best goalkeeper afier Lev Yashin”.

#2 Iker Casillas

#2 Iker Casillas

Career Honours:

  • La Liga x5
  • Supercopa de España x4
  • Copa del Rey x2
  • UEFA Champions League x3
  • UEFA Super Cup x2
  • Intercontinental Cup x1
  • FIFA Club World Cup x1
  • FIFA World Cup x1
  • Euro Championship x1

Be it league titles, Champions Leagues, the European Championship, or the FIFA World Cup, Iker Casillas has won it all. The Spaniard broke into the Real Madrid set-up as a young promising goalkeeper but was quick to showcase his breathtaking shot-stopping abilities, soon becoming the youngest goalkeeper to ever play in a Champions League final, which he won.

Casillas’s sixteen-year spell with Los Blancos was a period laden with silverware. He won 18 major trophies with the club, including three UEFA Champions League trophies. Casillas joined Portuguese club FC Porto in 2015 on a free transfer and won a couple of trophies, while he broke the record for most consecutive seasons played in the UEFA Champions League by a player (20).

As captain, Casillas led Spain during their golden era as he lifted the 2008 Euro Championship and the 2010 FIFA World Cup trophies before Spain became the first nation in history to retain the Euros trophy as they lifted it in 2012 as well.

Casillas won the IFFHS World’s Best Goalkeeper award a record five times, while he was selected for the UEFA Team of the Year from 2007-2012, which is a record for a goalkeeper.

Sadly, following a heart attack that he suffered during a training session with Porto in May 2019, Casillas spent nearly a year on the sidelines before announcing his retirement from football in February 2020.

#1 Lev Yashin

Best goalkeepers in the world #1 Lev Yashin

Career Honours:

  • Soviet Cup x3
  • Soviet Champion x5
  • European Champion x1
  • Olympic Gold Medalist x1
  • Ballon d’Or x1

Lev Yashin is, without a shadow of a doubt, the greatest goalkeeper in the history of the game. One of football’s true legends, Yashin spent his entire professional career playing for Dynamo Moscow, but it was his performances at the international stage with the Soviet Union that caught the world’s attention.

Nicknamed the “Black Spider” or “Black Panther”, Yashin was known for his athleticism, positioning, concentration level, acrobatic reflex saves, and his imposing stature in front of the goal. Lev is known for revolutionising the goalkeeping position with his imposing authority on the entire defence, coming out to punch or collect crosses/long balls and running out to meet onrushing attackers in an era where keepers barely acted proactively until called into action.

According to FIFA, Yashin saved more than 150 penalty kicks during his playing career—more than any other goalkeeper—while he also kept 270 clean sheets in just 420 appearances (including internationals), which would be outstanding for any modern keeper. However, given he played in an era where clean sheets were considered a rare commodity, Yashin’s appearance-to-clean sheets ratio looks all the more impressive.

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