Best goalkeepers of all time - ranked

  • Lev Yashin is the only goalkeeper to win the Ballon d'Or
  • Manuel Neuer regarded as a revolutionary in between the sticks
  • Gianluigi Buffon and Iker Casillas among the best contemporary shot-stoppers
Casillas and Buffon are two goalkeeping greats
Casillas and Buffon are two goalkeeping greats / Claudio Villa/GettyImages

Those who can't do, teach. Those who can't teach, teach gym. And those who can't teach gym, become goalkeepers.

​That's how the saying goes...right?

Regardless, some of those people who become goalkeepers actually end up being pretty good at it. Some captain their nation to World Cup triumphs, some save penalties in Champions League finals and most have longer careers than outfield players.

So, without much further ado, here are the very best goalkeepers of all time.

25. David Seaman

David Seaman of Arsenal
Seaman had an iconic look / Ben Radford/GettyImages

In the final few years of his career he did have a rather unfortunate haircut and he always had an unfortunate surname, but despite all of this David Seaman was a bloody good goalkeeper.

​Arsenal's shot-stopper in the '1-0 to the Arsenal' days and the most trophy-laden period of Arsene Wenger's tenure, Seaman was ever-dependable in goal for the Gunners, rarely putting a foot wrong in his 23-year career at Highbury.

He was also a more than capable replacement for Peter Shilton at international level. The highlight of his time as England's number one was undoubtedly his penalty shootout heroics at Euro '96 and his lowlight was undoubtedly that thing that happened against Brazil at the 2002 World Cup.

24. Jan Oblak

Jan Oblak
Oblak has stood among the world's best goalkeepers for the best part of a decade / Jurij Kodrun/GettyImages

Diego Simeone once said: "We have a goalkeeper who is the best in the world, no doubt. It's like Barcelona who have Messi. He decides games with his attacking play; Oblak resolves them with his saves."

Jan Oblak has never garnered major recognition on the international stage, but the Slovenian has been a model of elite consistency at Atletico Madrid for the best part of a decade.

23. Thibaut Courtois

Thibaut Courtois
Courtois produced a legacy-defining performance in the 2022 Champions League final / Shaun Botterill/GettyImages

There's a swagger about the Belgian you perhaps didn't think he had.

Thibaut Courtois' self-belief has seen him alienate fanbases, no more so than Chelsea's, but such assurance in his own abilities has seen him rise to the very top.

The towering shot-stopper came close to reaching the pinnacle with Atletico Madrid in 2014 before eventually claiming his maiden Champions League crown with their crosstown rivals in 2022. Courtois' performance in the final against Liverpool was one of the best by a goalkeeper in the competition's history.

22. Claudio Taffarel

Brazil goalkeeper Claudio Taffarel
Taffarel was Brazil's hero in the 1994 World Cup final / Shaun Botterill/GettyImages

Warning! The following sentence will annoy Manchester City and Liverpool fans: Claudio Taffarel is the best Brazilian goalkeeper of the modern era.

Alisson may well end up usurping him, but right now, Taffarel remains the best Brazilian goalkeeper of his time and for a pretty simple reason: he was a key member of the 1994 World Cup-winning Brazil side.

'How key?'

Taffarel saved two of Italy's penalties in the World Cup final penalty shootout to set up Roberto Baggio for his glorious failure. That's how key.

21. Harald Schumacher

Harald Toni Schumacher
The most hated man in France for quite some time / Getty Images/GettyImages

Harald Schumacher is remembered as somewhat of a supervillain of 1980s football for nearly beheading Patrick Battison and his involvement in the doping scandal.

But instead of focusing on his Thanos-level villainy, here are a few good things about Schumacher and why he's considered to be the 21st-best goalkeeper of all time:

- Two-time German Footballer of the Year.
- World Cup Silver Ball award in 1986.
- 1980 European Championships winner.
- Two-time Turkish footballer of the year.
- Same surname as Michael Schumacher.

20. Rinat Dasayev

Rinat Dasayev
The 'Iron Curtain' / Mike King/GettyImages

Nicknamed the 'Iron Curtain', Rinat Dasayev more than lived up to that amazing moniker during his playing career.

Known for his ridiculous long-throw and his insistence in saving every shot with one hand, Dasayev racked up 91 caps for the Soviet Union in their 'golden' side of the 80s and was roundly considered the best goalkeeper in the world at that time.

19. Gilmar

While Claudio Taffarel is the best Brazilian goalkeeper of the modern era, Gylmar dos Santos Neves is the best Brazilian goalkeeper of all time. Period.

Known as 'Pele's Goalkeeper', Gilmar was Brazil's calming influence between the sticks in their 1958 and 1962 World Cup-winning campaigns.

18. Andoni Zubizarreta

Andoni Zubizaretta of Spain
An uncompromising goalkeeper / Ben Radford/GettyImages

Andoni Zubizarreta isn't a goalkeeper with dozens of save compilations on YouTube. He wasn't interested in throwing out dramatic stops for the camera, either.

Instead, Zubizarreta made everything look simple. He made every save look simple. He made winning six La Liga titles look simple. He made a European Cup triumph look simple. He made playing in four World Cups look simple.

No thrills, no spills, just an all-round great goalkeeper.

17. Jose Chilavert

Jose Luis Chilavert
Chilavert scored an incredible 67 career goals / Simon M Bruty/GettyImages

From a goalkeeper with no YouTube highlights, to one with a compilation titled: 'José Luis Chilavert, El Bulldog [Best Saves & Goals]'.

Unlike Zubizarreta, Jose Chilavert was very much about the thrills. Be it by making audaciously brilliant saves or scoring free kicks, if it got the crowd on their feet, he would do it.

The Paraguayan legend scored a whopping 67 goals during his 20-year career, the most of anyone on this list.

16. Neville Southall

Neville Southall
Southall was excellent during his Everton days / Mike Powell/GettyImages

Younger readers will be surprised to see one of Twitter's - or X - most prolific users on this list, but way back in the 1980s, Neville Southall was one of the most uncompromising goalkeepers in England.

During his nearly decade-long spell at ​Everton, Southall was exceptional, helping his side to two First Division titles and two FA Cups.

Yes, younger readers, Everton were actually good once upon a time. 

15. Pat Jennings

Pat Jennings
Regarded as a Tottenham icon despite playing for Arsenal / Getty Images/GettyImages

There's only one way to explain just how good Pat Jennings was:

He won four major trophies with ​Tottenham Hotspur.


The club's only won five more since he left in 1977.

14. Walter Zenga

Walter Zenga
Zenga was a whippet between the sticks / Alessandro Sabattini/GettyImages

Walter Zenga is by no means the most complete goalkeeper on this list - he wasn't the greatest at saving penalties and struggled when coming out to deal with corners - but he is undoubtedly the best 'on the line' goalkeeper ever.

When directly between the posts, Zenga just did not concede goals. He was too quick, too agile, too explosive, too powerful and too bloody good.

13. Oliver Kahn

Oliver Kahn
A shouty man / Richard Sellers/Allstar/GettyImages

A litany of young football fans grew up terrified of Oliver Kahn and the German was particularly frightening during the 2002 World Cup. He screamed constantly, was built like a heavyweight boxer and basically unbeatable in goal.

It was at that World Cup that he cemented his place in every 'best goalkeepers of all time' list that will ever be written, becoming the only goalie in history to win the Golden Ball award. 

12. Edwin van der Sar

Edwin Van Der Sar
Van de Sar enjoyed a stellar Premier League career with Man Utd / Mike Hewitt/GettyImages

Edwin van der Sar once went 1,311 minutes without conceding a single goal - a world league football record.

That's why he's 12th on this list.

11. Peter Shilton

Peter Shilton
Shilton's career spanned over 30 years / Getty Images/GettyImages

Peter Shilton played the first professional game of his career in 1965 and the last in 1997, which is fairly astonishing.

What's even more astonishing is that throughout the bulk of that 30-year career he was the best goalkeeper in England.

At the peak of his powers in the late 70s, Shilton lifted the European Cup with Nottingham Forest in two consecutive seasons. That's also astonishing.

10. Michel Preud'homme

Pronounced 'Prood-hom', Michel Preud'homme was the first ever winner of the Lev Yashin award - later known as the Golden Glove - after his stunning performances at the 1994 World Cup.

He is arguably the greatest player in Belgian domestic footballing history, having achieved success with both Standard Liege and KV Mechelen.

9. Petr Cech

Cech is a Premier League legend / OLI SCARFF/GettyImages

Ok, it's time to list some of the records Petr Cech holds: 

- Most clean sheets in ​Premier League history. 
- Most Premier League Golden Glove awards.
- Most clean sheets in a single Premier League season.
- Highest save percentage of the 2010s in the UEFA Champions League. 

Of course he's on this list.

8. Iker Casillas

Iker Casillas, Jacob Zuma, Sepp Blatter
Casillas captained Spain to World Cup glory / Simon M Bruty/GettyImages

Iker Casillas captained Spain to World Cup glory, is the best goalkeeper in his country's history and won absolutely everything at ​Real Madrid.

However, the real reason Casillas is so high on this list is because of the time he dodged an object thrown at him by a Sporting Gijon fan and casually caught it with one hand. #Reflexes.

7. Gordon Banks

Gordon Banks
Banks may have completed the greatest save ever / Getty Images/GettyImages

Onto the goalkeeper who made the single greatest save in the history of mankind.


You know the one. 

Here's Banks describing the save in his ​own words: "Jairzinho lifts it to the centre of the goal, I race from my near post to the centre of my goal. Never ever, did I stand on my line in normal play, I always stood two or three yards in front of it for one reason: if I had to reach back for the ball it would be over the line.

"First of all, I've got to wait for him [Pele] to head it. Now once he's punched it, I know it's going just inside the right hand post. Here's where the hardest part of the save was. If I had've dived straight across I wasn't going to get, because it was going to bounce about a yard just in front of my dive. So now, I know that I've got to get across there quickly and at the same time anticipate how high the ball is going to bounce up off the hard surface and then reach back and get my hand to it - which I did do.

"But it hits the top of my hand and goes up, and honest to God I thought it was a goal...then I seen the ball bouncing behind the goal. And I said to myself: 'Banksy, you lucky s**t'".

6. Manuel Neuer

Manuel Neuer
Neuer is a huge presence for Bayern Munich and Germany / Marvin Ibo Guengoer - GES Sportfoto/GettyImages

There have been plenty of goalkeepers who have been good with the ball at their feet, but there's only ever been one Manuel Neuer. A goalkeeper so good with the ball that Pep Guardiola had to be talked out of playing him in midfielder (seriously).

Put simply, Neuer has excelled so much in the 'sweeper keeper' role that he's changed the expectations and perceptions of goalkeepers.

A bonafide game-changer.

5. Sepp Maier

Maier won a bucketload in Germany / STAFF/GettyImages

Right, let's run through everything Sepp 'The Cat' Maier won during his playing career with both ​Bayern Munich and West Germany: 

- Four Bundesliga titles.
- Four DFB-Pokals.
- Three European Cups.
- One Cup Winners' Cup.
- One Intercontinental Cup.
- One FIFA World Cup.
- One European Championships.
- Three German Footballer of the Year awards.

4. Dino Zoff

Dino Zoff
Buffon before Buffon / Evening Standard/GettyImages

The original Gianluigi Buffon, Dino Zoff has in many ways been surpassed by his heir, but that's not to say he wasn't an astonishing goalkeeper in his own right.

Most fondly remembered as the 40-year-old captain of Italy's 1982 World Cup winning side, Zoff was one of the most consistent goalkeepers of all time.

Always a fantastic competitor, an immense leader and one of the great football men in Italian history.

3. Peter Schmeichel

Peter Schmeichel
Schmeichel was the best goalkeeper of the 90s / Ben Radford/GettyImages

Forwards were absolutely terrified of the boisterous Peter Schmeichel during the 1990s.

His teammates respected the Danish great and he would often drag Manchester United out of tricky situations with fantastic save after fantastic save.

Without Schmeichel, it's hard to imagine ​Man Utd dominating English football throughout the 90s.

2. Lev Yashin

Lev Yashin
The only goalkeeper to win the Ballon d'Or / Central Press/GettyImages

The only player on this list to have won the Ballon d'Or, Lev Yashin is widely regarded as the greatest goalkeeper of all time...but not by us. He is second on this list though, which is still pretty damn impressive.

The man who saved over 150 penalties and kept more than 270 clean sheets throughout his professional career and won FIFA's Goalkeeper of the Century award is one of the most important footballers of all time because, well, he pretty much invented goalkeeping.

1. Gianluigi Buffon

Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon kiss
Buffon is the greatest goalkeeper ever / JOCHEN LUEBKE/GettyImages

Here he is: the GOAT of GOAT goalkeepers. The greatest of all time.

Gianluigi Buffon.

Gigi is 90min's greatest goalkeeper of all time because no other candidate has been as good for as long.

His peak came at the 2006 World Cup where he conceded just two goals en route to Italy's fourth triumph and even at his absolute lowest ebb he was still one of the three best in the world.

Having enjoyed a nearly three-decade-long career at the highest level, Buffon returned to Parma for his final swan-song before eventually hanging his gloves up at the age of 45.

Buffon was a remarkable athlete, a remarkable leader and a remarkable winner.