Neuer the trailblazer and Grobbelaar the maniac in Johnny Nic’s top 10* goalkeepers

John Nicholson
Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech
The Chelsea version of Petr Cech really did take some beating

John Nicholson loves an eccentric goalkeeper so much that his top 10 is actually a top 11. Only one current player features…


Dino Zoff
Kept the longest period of unbroken international clean sheets (1,142 minutes) from September 1972 to June 1974, ended by a goal for Haiti. Won the Euros in 1968 and was voted goalkeeper of the tournament on his international debut and again in 1980. Was famously undemonstrative, favouring a safety-first approach despite having a last name that sounded like a superhero.


Lev Yashin
The Cold War stopper played for Dynamo Moscow between 1950 and 1970, made 812 appearances and got 74 caps, back when the Soviet Union was good. Sometimes played in a roll neck sweater as was typical of the time. Saved more penalties than anyone else: 151. There are several statues of him and he even got his own stamp and commemorative coin. Often named as the best ever goalkeeper. Apparently was the first to shout at defenders to organise them. Died at just 61.

Portrait of an Icon: Lev Yashin


Neville Southall
Played for Everton between 1981 and 1998, making 751 appearances. Also turned out 92 times for Wales. Notoriously, Sir Alex thought about signing him before Peter Schmeichel but found him too aggressive. Once had a sit-down protest when two down at half-time against Leeds. Frequently, his brilliance saved Everton, especially in the ’90s. Fell out with some managers. On retirement he bloated up and became politically active.


Sepp Maier
Over 700 appearances for Bayern Munich and 92 caps between 1966 and 1979 for West Germany. Seemed to be in goal forever. Famously wore massive gloves, some say gauntlets. Also had massive over-sized shorts. Somehow embodied West Germany’s relentless, cold-hearted, nerveless spirit. Won three consecutive European Cups and three consecutive league titles and a Euros and a World Cup. Famously tried to catch a duck during a quiet game. As you do. Had an unsuitable perm in the late ’70s which made him look like a porn star in a blue movie. All-time record appearances for Bayern. The only keeper to win the Ballon d’Or.


Peter Bonetti
The Cat. Didn’t have a prehensile tail. Played over 600 times for Chelsea when they were glamorous and not a laughing stock. Seven caps for England, always behind Gordon Banks. Was super agile and pulled off many spectacular saves but was useless in the 1970 World Cup quarter-final defeat against West Germany. Won the Cup Winners’ Cup, League and FA Cup with Chelsea and many felt he was better than Banks, for a long time. Still not a cat.


Gordon Banks
Widely seen as the best in the world in his pomp. Only won the League Cup for Leicester but was FIFA Goalkeeper of the Year between 1966 and 1971 and FWA Player of the Year in 1972. Got an OBE in 1970. Was a former sack filler at a coalyard and then a hod carrier, so was super strong. Some felt he was the establishment favourite well beyond his best years. Spent the second half of his career at Stoke and won the League Cup. Poor fella lost an eye in a car crash and had to retire. His nephew drums for Pulp, dontcha know.


Manuel Neuer
Has a good claim to be a trailblazer for the typical modern ‘sweeper keeper’. Played over 200 times for Schalke and over 500 for Bayern. Shocked traditionalists by coming out of his box and passing the ball like a midfielder. Looks very German somehow, and is a big 6′ 4″ stormtrooper. Has 117 caps since 2009 and is widely acknowledged as one of the world’s best. Has won 29 titles including a World Cup in 2014.


Peter Schmeichel
Superstar keeper who consistently performed at a high standard for Manchester United. Played over 100 times for Brondby and nearly 300 for United, who bought him for half a million. Invented the star jump while advancing on a player like a big mad bastard. Saved loads of points for the club. Left United for Sporting Lisbon and won the Primeira Liga and Supertaca Candido de Oliveira. Came back to the UK and won the Intertoto with Villa. Finished his career without winning anything with Manchester City. Won the 1992 Euros and got 129 caps. Middle name is Bolesław which would have been funnier if it was Coleslaw.

READ MOREMan Utd goalkeepers ranked: De Gea in top three behind Champions League winners…


Oliver Kahn
Looked like everyone’s dad’s idea of a German. Played a couple of hundred times for Karlsruher SC II and the first team before inevitably moving to Bayern Munich, who he was later CEO of for a couple of years. Played 632 games for Bayern and won 23 titles. Was nicknamed King Kahn because he was so dominant. Super tough and commanding, made the weedier boys cry by shouting at them. Won the 1996 Euros in England by being too good. For a while he seemed impossible to beat. Played 86 times for his country.


Bruce Grobbelaar
Popularised the term ‘spaghetti legs’ and traded off it for years. An important member of an all-conquering Liverpool team, made 628 appearances for them between 1980 and 1993. Attained legendary status because of some brilliant performances despite proclivity to throw one in from time to time. Now largely forgotten that he played 32 games post-Liverpool for Southampton and 36 for Plymouth. Appeared in Brookside, and is unforgiven for his baseball cap on backwards part of The Anfield Rap. Accused but cleared of match-fixing. Sued The Sun and won £85,000 slashed to £1 on appeal and made to pay £500,000 costs. The judge said he had ‘acted in a way in which no decent or honest footballer would act and in a way which could, if not exposed and stamped on, undermine the integrity of a game’. Oops.


Petr Cech
A crucial part of Jose Mourinho’s first stretch at Chelsea, signed in 2004 for £7million. Played 494 times in 11 years for them. Won four league titles, four FA Cups, three League Cups, a Champions League and Europa League title. Wore an ungainly head nappy thing due to Stephen Hunt and having a weak skull as one of triplets. Widely thought to be one of the Premier League’s best ever keepers. Played four seasons for Arsenal, now plays ice hockey most recently on loan at Belfast Giants. Has 124 caps for Czech Republic, speaks six languages alongside his native Czech which made him too clever for Chelsea.