After my previous ‘Best in the World’ piece, which to be fair; was highly arguable as to who belonged on that list, once again I thought I will give MY TAKE on who are the ten finest goalkeeper’s on the planet today.
10: VÍCTOR VALDÉS –I can see the Barca fans will be laughing at me as I type this, but for me, Valdés isn’t as good as he is made out to be, and divides opinion amongst many other football supporters too. Sure he has had incredible success with Barcelona over the last few years, but many people, as well as me, feel that his personal statistics are only enhanced because he plays for a team like Barcelona who have world class players in every single position, put Valdés in a mediocre team or with a mediocre defence, and you’ll be able to see the cracks, as he is prone to making simple mistakes. Still, you have to give the guy credit where it’s due, going 896 minutes without conceding a goal last season, making the most appearances ever for a goalkeeper in a Barcelona shirt, winning the Zamora trophy a record five times and generally capturing countless titles with the Catalan Giants. But for me, Valdés isn’t someone I can put in my dream eleven as a starting goalkeeper and trust, week in week out.
9: MAARTEN STEKELENBURG –Coming up through the ranks of the world famous Ajax youth system, following in the footsteps of another Dutch legend, Edwin van der Sar. Currently the starting goalkeeper for Roma and the Dutch National team, Maarten does a brilliant job individually, as he manages to keep his starting role in the National team, especially with the likes of Tim Krul and Michel Vorm announcing themselves on the scene, but you have to give credit to Stekelenburg for managing to hold on to his place. He had a brilliant World Cup campaign in 2010, taking the Netherlands to the final in which was an overall brilliant display from Stekelenburg throughout the tournament, but managed to fall at the last hurdle. With 40 caps to his name so far, Maarten just goes from strength to strength, his tall figure doesn’t seem to slow him down as he has lightning fast reflexes and also brilliant distribution of the ball. Also showing brilliant signs on confidence when coming out for a set-piece, Stekelenburg is easily one of the best goalkeepers in the world, whether he can improve on this; it remains to be seen, as he hasn’t succeeded with Roma as of yet, but we’ll have to wait and see what Stekelenburg has to offer in the coming years.
8: RUI PATRÍCIO –But this man’s place in the National Team won’t be in doubt for many years to come, Patrício is one of the finest talents in the world today. Currently playing for Sporting Lisbon and Portugal, he has remained a key figure at the back for both teams, organising his defence very well, showing brilliant confidence and can be an intimidating figure in a one on one situation and is rarely beaten by a scrappy goal. His distribution of the ball is also fantastic and remains one of the most accurate kickers of the ball today. The unfortunate thing for Patrício is that he won’t be tested at the highest level possible if he doesn’t move to another club in Europe, outside of Portugal, as there are only a handful of brilliant Goalscorers in the Portuguese League, whether Patrício could handle a league such as the Premier League, that remains to be seen, but for now, Patrício stands at number eight in my list, and will surely improve due his very young age, one to watch.
7: HUGO LLORIS –Hands down the best goalkeeper in France, as 25 year old Lloris is the first choice ‘keeper for Lyon and the French National team. Debuting for his hometown club OGC Nice as only a 17 year old, he went on to showcase his skills on his way to the Coupe de la Ligue Final; his performances didn’t go unnoticed as we now know him as Lyon’s first choice goalkeeper. Standing at 6’2”, Lloris has incredible reflexes due to his smaller size compared to other bulky goalkeepers such as Manuel Neuer and Pepe Reina, and is also difficult to beat in a one on one situation, not afraid to dive at an opponent’s feet to make sure the ball ends up in his grasp, most of the time; it works out well. As well as commanding his box well during set pieces and sorting his defence out, Lloris is at number seven because of the potential he has, recently linked with Tottenham, he has the potential to become one of the greatest goalkeepers in the world. He will easily storm up the rankings in the upcoming years and it will only be a matter of time before a big club in England or Spain comes knowing for Hugo.
6: PETR ČECH –This was tough as I could have had him in fifth position, but stuck with sixth. Čech has been one of Chelsea’s and the Premier League’s greatest goalkeeper’s, winning Premier League titles, F.A. Cups, League Cups and most recently the Champions League, so it’s difficult to say that Čech is an average ‘keeper, because he isn’t. We’re lucky as Premier League fans to be watching Petr on a weekly basis after his horrific injury a few seasons ago, before that injury I wasn’t a huge fan of his, but the manner in which he responded from that, came back and continued where he left off, was incredible. The only downside to Čech being a world class goalkeeper is that he is part of a mediocre Czech Republic side, and you can’t blame him for not having many International honours, but he didn’t have the best Euro tournament after a successful Champion’s League, I had no choice but to place him sixth.
5: IGOR AKINFEEV –Igor has recently had fitness worries as of late, but that doesn’t stop him from being number five in my list on the greatest goalkeepers in the world today. Known to be excellent in one on one situation and his quick reflexes, Akinfeev has always been one of the most reliable goalkeeper’s in the world. He started every single league for CSKA in 2008 and 2009, as well as paying an instrumental role in Russia’s brilliant run to the semi-final’s of Euro 2008 where he was one of the team’s star contributors, and got his name out there with the likes of Andrey Arshavin; and to think, such dominating performances from a man who was only 22 years old back then, incredible. A lot of fans have expect him to make a big money move to a team in England, Spain or Italy, but that remains to be seen. For me, Akinfeev is better than Čech because he has quicker reflexes and his positioning is usually better than Čech, but this can be argued, it was tough but I personally think Akinfeev is better than Čech.
4: GIANLUIGI BUFFON –A living legend, Gigi is a World Cup winning goalkeeper of the highest quality, regarded as one of the best to have stood in between the sticks, as well as one of the most dominant and best shot stoppers, and at 34, he’s still showing his class. He’s won countless awards, Serie A titles, the World Cup, the UEFA Cup, Coppa Italia along with many more, which justifies the reason he has won many individual awards, being named the goalkeeper of the year four times by the IHFFS along with being named the goalkeeper of the 21st century, Gigi has done pretty much everything you can achieve. However, the reason I have placed Buffon in the fourth spot and not third, is because of the whole match fixing debacle which has tarnished Italian Football, even being relegated to Serie B and having their title stripped before. Whether Buffon was involved in it all or not, we haven’t got a clue, but fixing isn’t acceptable in our beautiful sport and for a legend like Buffon to even be linked with fixing; it is quite annoying when you look at what the man has achieved, put Iker Casillas in the same situation and then fans would even start viewing him in a different light. Secondly, the coveted Champions League, something he hasn’t been able to win but has come so close, and quite frankly it’s the only thing missing from his long list of achievements. He has the talent, the ability to stop shots, quick reflexes and make vital saves, that’s why he’ll remain one of the greatest.
3: JOE HART –Even though he is a Manchester City player, I cannot be a biased Manchester United fan, as Joe Hart is one of the best goalkeeper’s on the planet today, and he’s proved it as praise comes from all four corners of the world for him. He’s played in League’s One and Two in England, and obviously the Premier League; and he’s impressed everywhere he has been. His successful stint as Birmingham’s goalkeeper landed him the 2009/2010 Premier League goalkeeper of the year, and he has only improved. He was instrumental to City’s success last year as they claimed the Premiership crown. His reflexes are brilliant and there’s no doubt he is England’s number one for years to come. If he can get far with City in the Champion’s League this year, then there’s no doubt in my mind that he can move towards the top of the list very quickly. It’s a shame United didn’t sign him when we had the chance, but still a fantastic talent and you’ll see why he’s at number three when number two and one are revealed.
2: IKER CASILLAS –I am ready for the insults and the abuse which will follow, Casillas at number two. He’s been voted the IFFHS goalkeeper of the four for four years running and there’s no doubting Iker’s abilities as a goalkeeper. There aren’t many reasons why I have picked Casillas at number two, only because of the fact that he always has an incredible defence ahead of him, with an incredible defence comes less work rate in the goal. Yes, he has pulled out with some top quality saves, led Real Madrid and Spain to many honours and has also racked up 100 International wins for Spain, which is nothing short of spectacular. Me personally, I wouldn’t pick Iker as my goalkeeper in a starting eleven, especially if I have a mediocre defence, I would need someone very intimidating who has proven to be amazing with an average defence, such as the next man. But I do hold the greatest respect for Iker as he has proven to probably be one of the greatest goalkeeper’s of all time, not just today.
1: MANUEL NEUER –For me, he’s the most intimidating goalkeeper on the planet, standing at 6’4” and only at 26 years old, Neuer is the best goalkeeper on the planet. With over 150 appearances for Schalke, he provided fans with some of the best saves we have seen, his amazing performances where he single-handedly kept his team in matches, game after game. His performances obviously wouldn’t go unnoticed, as Bayern Munich came knocking on the door as Neuer expressed his desire to leave once his contract expires, he signed with the Bavarian giants in a deal worth around €22 Million. Even with the pressure of being Munich’s number one ‘keeper, Neuer consistently impresses fans with shot saving ability, calmness under pressure in one on one situations, reflexes, excellent shot stopping abilities and the distribution of the ball. Having gone over 1000 minutes without conceding a goal in the Bundesliga, Neuer was seen by many English fans in the 2010 World Cup when Lampard’s goal was disallowed, and also in the Champion’s League Final. His penalty saving has been heavily praised as his pre-penalty ritual seems to intimidate player’s as he imposes his dominance on the line, most notably saving a Ronaldo and Kaka penalty in the Champion’s League semi-final, as well as Juan Mata’s penalty in the final. Even though Neuer couldn’t lead Munich to victory, his individual performances rather than team success is what places him at the top of my top ten goalkeepers in the world.
Which goalkeeper’s do you think are the best in the world right now? That you know will concede minimal amounts of goals on a weekly basis?