Goalkeeping giantsWho will be the next keeper joining these five names in shot-stopping immortality?
The goalkeeper is arguably the most important position on the pitch. Germany in particular churn out world-class netminders like nobody’s business. Just think of some of Neuer’s predecessors: Sepp Maier, Toni Schumacher, and Jens Lehmann, to name but a few. Football has always had iconic figures manning the last line of defence. When you hark back to many of the great teams, they’re often defined by the man between the sticks. Here’s five goalkeeping dons:
Edwin van der Sar
This Dutchman won just about everything there is to win at club level with Ajax and Manchester United. With the national side he played in three World Cups and four European Championships, though sadly he couldn’t repeat his club success on the international stage. Combining great shot-stopping abilities with technique, he’s now seen as one of the forefathers of modern goalkeeping.
The Great Dane won title after title with the dominant Manchester United sides of the 1990s and represented his national team in four international tournaments – lifting the Euro 1992 trophy after Denmark’s shock win over Germany. Standing at 6ft 3in tall and weighing in at over 16 stone, Schmeichel was a man mountain with a thunderous rage – just ask the teammates who played in front of him! Unusually for a ‘keeper he was handy at the other end of the pitch too, scoring a few last-minute goals in his career.
Due to his fantastic performances in the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea, this legendary Bayern Munich star became the first and only goalkeeper to win the Golden Ball award for being the best player of the tournament. Although the World Cup itself eluded him, Kahn won pretty much every possible club trophy and individual award going – he was even in the Germany squad that won Euro 96. Ruthlessly determined as well as skillful and ambitious, Kahn was famed for his legendary outbursts.
In 1982 at the age of 40, Zoff captained Italy to World Cup glory and he remains the oldest player ever to lift the trophy. This capped a successful career littered with countless other titles and honours, the last ten years of which were spent at Juventus. Following his retirement from playing, Zoff went into coaching, managing Juve and Lazio before guiding the Italy side to the final of Euro 2000.
Banks came through the youth ranks at Chesterfield and spent most of his career in the Midlands at Leicester and Stoke. He was a key member of England’s hallowed World Cup-winning side of 1966 and served as the country’s number one for nine years. Without doubt one of the finest goalkeepers to have graced English football, Banks sealed his place in the history books when he pulled off an impossible save from a Pele header at the 1970 World Cup.