The World Cup often focuses on the outfield players – more specifically, the ones who get goals and create chances that become the most dazzling plays of the tournament. However, you can’t win football’s most coveted trophy without a solid man between the sticks, and in this list, we’ll be counting down the top 10 goalkeepers in the history of the world’s biggest footballing showcase.
Not all of these keepers have actually won the Jules Rimet trophy, but their inclusion on this list is based on their overall play over the course of their country’s World Cup campaign, and many of them have taken their nations to a stage in the tournament that was once improbable.
However, this list leaves off certain goalkeepers who had earned reputations with their clubs – eg. Peter Schmeichel and David Seaman – but whose play at the World Cup did not bring their countries to new heights. Therefore, we’ll be focusing on those who have garnered a solid reputation both on a domestic and international level.
Some of these keepers, such as Iker Casillas and Gianluigi Buffon, are still active in football today and are expected to be the man their countries rely upon as their first-choice keeper in Brazil this summer. Others are good enough to have had awards named after them: for a time, the Golden Glove Award at the World Cup was named after Soviet goalkeeping legend Lev Yashin before being renamed.
Either way, these goalkeepers have sealed their name into World Cup legend, and there will be several younger but also talented goalkeepers – Manuel Neuer of Germany particularly comes to mind here – hoping to do the same this summer when Brazil finally hosts the finals. But before we look ahead to June 12th, let’s look back on the 10 greatest shot-stoppers the World Cup has ever seen.
10 Oliver Kahn, Germany
9 Rinat Dasayev, Soviet Union
8 Gordon Banks, England
7 Gilmar, Brazil
6 Gianluigi Buffon, Italy
5 Fabien Barthez, France
4 Sepp Maier, West Germany
3 Lev Yashin, Soviet Union
2 Iker Casillas, Spain
1 Dino Zoff, Italy
Although he played internationally from the late ‘60s to the early ‘80s, Italian goalkeeper Dino Zoff still owns the record for the longest time without conceding a goal in international play (1,142 minutes), and his record in goal for the Azzurri during his playing career is dazzling. Outside of winning six Scudetti with Juventus in club football, Zoff went to four World Cups with Italy, winning it all in 1982 as team captain – at the age of 40. He racked up five clean sheets in his history at the World Cup, and went into coaching after retirement, eventually managing the Italian national team for a time between 1998 and 2000.
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