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Ranking the 10 Greatest Goalkeepers in Football History

Goalkeepers play a vital role in every football team each season. They act as the last line of…
Ranking The 10 Greatest Goalkeepers In Football History

Goalkeepers play a vital role in every football team each season. They act as the last line of defense, making crucial saves and ensuring composure under pressure. Unlike outfield players who can sometimes recover from mistakes, goalkeepers must perform flawlessly week after week, carrying their team’s hopes on their shoulders.

Top-tier goalkeepers can single-handedly earn their teams points and are highly respected by their clubs. For instance, Liverpool struggled in the 2018 Champions League final due to mistakes by Loris Karius. This prompted them to sign Alisson Becker in 2018, who was pivotal in their subsequent Champions League victory. This illustrates the immense importance of goalkeepers in football.

At GIVEMESPORT, we’ve ranked the top 10 greatest goalkeepers of all time based on various criteria, acknowledging their exceptional contributions to the sport.

Ranking Factors

  • Longevity—The highest-ranked players have consistently excelled over extended periods in their sport, demonstrating their ability to adapt to evolving game dynamics. This reflects their enduring impact and success despite changes in modern football.
  • Consistency of world-class performances – Consistent world-class performances elevate a goalkeeper’s standing every week. Those who maintain this level throughout their careers are ranked highly for their sustained excellence.
  • Performances in finals –  Finals are the most crucial matches in a player’s career. Goalkeepers who make pivotal saves in these games are ranked higher for their performance under pressure.

Best Goalkeepers of All Time
RankingNameProfessional Career
1.Lev Yashin1950 – 1970
2.Gianluigi Buffon1995 – 2023
3.Manuel Neuer2004 – Present
4.Iker Casillas1998 – 2020
5.Oliver Kahn1987 – 2008
6.Petr Cech1999 – 2019
7.Peter Schmeichel1981 – 2003
8.Edwin van der Sar1990 – 2016
9.Alisson Becker2013 – Present
10.Gordon Banks1958 – 1977

1. Lev Yashin

Professional career: 1950-1970

Ranking The 10 Greatest Goalkeepers In Football History

Lev Yashin is widely considered the most famous goalkeeper in history. In 2019, France Football introduced the Yashin Trophy to honor the best goalkeeper of the year, emphasizing Yashin’s exceptional skill and legacy in the sport.

Known as ‘The Black Spider,’ Lev Yashin was a legendary figure for the Soviet Union and Dynamo Moscow. He achieved a unique feat by winning the Ballon d’Or in 1963, the only goalkeeper ever to do so. Yashin played 358 games for Dynamo Moscow and 74 for the Soviet Union, even winning the 1960 European Championship.

Yashin Stats
1950-1970Dynamo Moscow358
1954-1970Soviet Union74

2. Gianluigi Buffon

Professional career: 1995-2023

Ranking The 10 Greatest Goalkeepers In Football History

Gianluigi Buffon is widely known for never winning the Champions League. Despite being part of a notable team that never clinched the European Cup, he continually pursued this goal without success. Nonetheless, he remains highly regarded as one of the greatest goalkeepers ever.

During his career with Juventus and Parma, Gianluigi Buffon won 10 Serie A titles and six Italian Cups, showcasing his lasting impact on football. He began playing professionally in 1995 and continued until 2023, a span of 28 years. Buffon also played a crucial role in Italy’s victory at the 2006 World Cup, cementing his position as one of the top players in our rankings.

Buffon Stats
2018–2019Paris Saint-Germain25

3. Manuel Neuer

Professional career: 2005-present

Ranking The 10 Greatest Goalkeepers In Football History

Manuel Neuer, like Casillas, has been one of the most reliable goalkeepers in recent times. He revolutionized the goalkeeper position throughout his career by adopting a ‘sweeper keeper’ role. His proactive rushing out of goal proved highly effective in controlling matches.

At the international level, Neuer has played over 100 matches, showcasing his confidence and skill. He has made over 500 appearances for Bayern Munich, setting a record for the most clean sheets in the history of Germany’s top league. His greatest achievement was winning the World Cup in 2014, although he also triumphed in the Champions League twice with Bayern, in 2013 and 2020.

Neuer Stats
2005-2011Schalke 04203
2011-PresentBayern Munich521

4. Iker Casillas

Professional career: 1999-2020

Ranking The 10 Greatest Goalkeepers In Football History

Iker Casillas is synonymous with being ‘world-class’ in football discussions. During his 16-year tenure at Real Madrid, he played in 725 matches, securing three Champions League trophies and five La Liga titles.

His achievements with Spain were even more remarkable. From 2008 to 2012, Casillas played a pivotal role as Spain won the Euros, World Cup, and Euros again every two years. Known for his calmness and reliability in goal, he earned admiration from coaches and teammates alike. His career came to an end after he suffered a heart attack while playing for Porto, but fortunately, he recovered fully.

Casillas Stats
1999–2015Real Madrid725
2015–2020FC Porto156

5. Oliver Kahn

Professional career: 1987-2008

Ranking The 10 Greatest Goalkeepers In Football History

Oliver Kahn is regarded as one of Germany’s finest goalkeepers, with 86 appearances for his national team showcasing his skill. He was a dominant presence for Bayern Munich and Germany, known for his imposing stature and commanding presence on the field.

Kahn succeeded with Bayern, winning eight Bundesliga titles, six German Cups, and the UEFA Champions League in 2001. He was also awarded the Golden Ball at the 2002 World Cup, recognizing him as the tournament’s top player, despite Germany’s loss to Brazil in the final.

Kahn Stats
1990–1994Karlsruher SC153
1994–2008Bayern Munich632

6. Petr Cech

Professional career: 1999-2019

Ranking The 10 Greatest Goalkeepers In Football History

Petr Cech is a legendary goalkeeper in the Premier League. Despite a serious head injury in 2006 that fractured his skull, he returned to play wearing a protective helmet. His injury didn’t hinder him from making outstanding saves regularly and leading Chelsea to consistent success.

Wearing his iconic scrum cap, Cech played 494 games for Chelsea, winning 18 major trophies, including four Premier League titles. He holds the record for the most clean sheets in Premier League history with 202, surpassing David James in second place with 169. While Cech’s later years at Arsenal were not as successful, he remains revered as one of the greatest goalkeepers of his era.

Cech Stats
1999–2001Chmel Blsany31
2001–2002Sparta Prague39
2002-2016Czech Republic124

7. Peter Schmeichel

Professional career: 1981-2003

Ranking The 10 Greatest Goalkeepers In Football History

Peter Schmeichel, alongside Van der Sar, is a Manchester United legend and one of the greatest goalkeepers ever. His impressive career spanned 22 years.

Schmeichel gained global attention when he helped Denmark win Euro 1992. He solidified his reputation as the world’s top goalkeeper during his successful eight-year tenure at Manchester United. After achieving the treble with the club in 1999, he moved on, adding to his legacy with 121 appearances for Denmark and stints at Aston Villa and Manchester City. Schmeichel’s impact cements his place among the all-time greats in football history.

Schmeichel Stats
1991–1999Manchester United395
1999–2001Sporting CP52
2001–2002Aston Villa36
2002–2003Manchester City31

8. Edwin van der Sar

Professional career: 1990-2016

Ranking The 10 Greatest Goalkeepers In Football History

Edwin van der Sar achieved remarkable success in his career, winning 26 major trophies. His time at Manchester United made him the oldest player to lift the Premier League title, highlighting his enduring skill and longevity as a goalkeeper.

Van der Sar also holds the world record for 1,311 minutes without conceding a goal during the 2008/09 Premier League season. He played a pivotal role under Sir Alex Ferguson, making over 266 appearances for Manchester United after successful spells at Ajax and Fulham. With 130 appearances for the Netherlands national team, Van der Sar is rightfully considered one of the greatest goalkeepers ever.

Van der Sar Stats
2005–2011Manchester United266
2016VV Noordwijk1

9. Alisson Becker

Professional career: 2013-present

Ranking The 10 Greatest Goalkeepers In Football History

Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp brought in Alisson in 2018, hoping to reach new heights, and he delivered. Following the disappointment of losing the 2018 Champions League final, the Brazilian goalkeeper rejuvenated the team at Anfield, bringing stability and confidence to their defense.

Since joining Liverpool, Alisson has achieved significant success, winning the Champions League, Premier League, and several domestic cups. He is considered indispensable as long as he remains fit and healthy, and when he eventually leaves Liverpool, he will be remembered as one of the club’s greatest players.

Alisson followed his brother’s path to becoming a goalkeeper but has surpassed his older sibling and many others who have ever played in goal.

Alisson Stats
2016-2018AS Roma64

10. Gordon Banks

Professional career: 1958-1978

Ranking The 10 Greatest Goalkeepers In Football History

Thanks to Gordon Banks, the commentary piece ‘Oh, what a save’ became immortal in sports media history. In 1970, he made an unforgettable save against the legendary Pele, a moment that left spectators awestruck. It is widely regarded as one of the greatest saves ever made in football.

Banks played most of his career at Leicester City and Stoke City, winning one League Cup with each club. However, his legacy is primarily defined by his time with the England national team. He played a crucial role in England’s World Cup victory in 1966 and earned 73 caps for his country, including his iconic performance against Brazil in 1970.

Banks Stats
1959–1967Leicester City293
1967–1973Stoke City194
1967Cleveland Stokers (loan)7
1971Hellenic (loan)3
1977–1978Fort Lauderdale Strikers37
1977St Patrick’s Athletic (loan)1


The ranking of the 10 greatest goalkeepers in football history is clear, and these players have left an indelible mark on the sport. From their exceptional saves to their leadership on the field, each goalkeeper has contributed uniquely to their teams and earned their place among football legends.

Their achievements in winning major trophies, setting records, and demonstrating career consistency have solidified their status. Whether it’s Oliver Kahn’s dominance in goal, Lev Yashin’s revolutionary impact, or Petr Cech’s resilience and skill, these goalkeepers have set benchmarks that aspiring players continue to aspire to.

Their ability to influence matches, make crucial saves under pressure, and define eras in football history make them icons of the game. As we celebrate their contributions, it’s clear that their legacy will continue to inspire future generations of goalkeepers and football enthusiasts alike.


Q1: Who are considered the greatest goalkeepers in football history?

Ans: The list typically includes iconic names like Lev Yashin, Gordon Banks, Peter Schmeichel, Gianluigi Buffon, and others who have significantly impacted the game.

Q2: What criteria were used to rank these goalkeepers?

Ans: Factors such as their performances in major tournaments, consistency throughout their careers, individual awards, clean sheet records, and overall influence on the sport were considered.

Q3: Why is Lev Yashin often mentioned as one of the best goalkeepers?

Ans: Lev Yashin, known as the “Black Spider,” revolutionized goalkeeping with his agility, shot-stopping abilities, and leadership. He remains the only goalkeeper to win the Ballon d’Or.

Q4: Which goalkeepers have won the most trophies?

Ans: Goalkeepers like Peter Schmeichel, Edwin van der Sar, and Gianluigi Buffon have won numerous domestic league titles, cups, and international trophies.

Q5: Who holds the record for the most clean sheets in football history?

Ans: This record is often discussed among goalkeepers like Peter Schmeichel and Gianluigi Buffon, who have impressive clean sheet records in their respective leagues.

Q6: How did these goalkeepers influence the game beyond their saves?

Ans: Many of these goalkeepers not only made crucial saves but also acted as leaders on and off the field, influencing tactics, team morale, and defensive strategies.

Q7: What memorable moments are associated with these goalkeepers?

Ans: Iconic saves, such as Gordon Banks’ save against Pele in 1970 or Oliver Kahn’s performances in the 2002 World Cup, are remembered as defining moments in football history.

Q8: How did these goalkeepers adapt to changes in the modern game?

Ans: Goalkeepers like Manuel Neuer introduced the concept of the “sweeper-keeper,” emphasizing their ability to play with their feet and participate in outfield play, adapting to the evolving tactics of the game.

Q9: Which goalkeepers had the longest and most successful careers?

Ans: Edwin van der Sar and Gianluigi Buffon are noted for their longevity. They played at the highest level well into their late 30s and 40s while maintaining exceptional performances.

Q10: What is the legacy of these goalkeepers in football?

Ans: Their legacy includes inspiring generations of goalkeepers, setting standards for excellence, and leaving an enduring impact on the sport through their achievements and contributions.