The top 15 greatest goalkeepers of all time in football history

The top 15 greatest goalkeepers of all time in football history

Kenneth Mwenda, Peris Walubengo

Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Chelsea, and Manchester United are among the clubs with the top FIFA goalkeepers of all time. For instance, Senegalese goalkeeper Mendy of Chelsea is one the best African goalkeepers of all time, and Spanish footballer Casillas is the best goalkeeper in Real Madrid's histoy. Discover other best goalkeepers of all time below.

Greatest goalkeepers of all time in football history
Photo: (modified by author)
Source: UGC

Many hard-working African players have also risen to top positions in international football and become the best soccer goalkeepers of all time. This list contains all-time best African goalkeepers and non-Africans.

Who are the best goalkeepers of all time?

The world's best goaltenders of all time have consistently shown great skills. Fans notice their admirable performance improving season by season out. Below are the best goalkeepers in football history and the teams/clubs where they performed best. Some are active, others are retired, and some are passed away.

15. Edwin van der Sar - Manchester United

greatest goalkeepers in football history
Former Man United goalkeeper, Edwin Van Der Sar. Photo: @edwinvandersar1
Source: Instagram
  • Full name: Edwin van der Sar
  • Born: 29 October 1970
  • Age: 52 years (as of February 2023)
  • Birthplace: Voorhout, Netherlands
  • Nationality: Netherlands
  • Height: 197 cm
  • Spouse: Annemarie van Kesteren (2006 to present)
  • Children: Joe van der Sar and Lynn van der Sar
  • Last international team: Manchester United
  • Retired: 2011

Van der Sar was an exceptional sportsman and athlete. He shone brightest during his days at Manchester United's Old Trafford. The player was a force to reckon with while in the net. He helped the Red Devils to clinch four Premier League titles and the UEFA Champions League. Edwin retired in 2011 but still came out in 2016 to play a match for the Dutch amateur team, VV Noordwijk. He had previously played for them in his youth. Van der Sar is now the CEO of AFC Ajax.

14. Gordon Banks - Stock City

goalkeepers of all time
The late goalkeeper Gordon Banks of Stock City. Photo: @leicestershirelive
Source: Facebook
  • Full name: Gordon Banks
  • Born: 30 December 1937
  • Birthplace: Abbeydale, Sheffield
  • Died: 12 February 2019
  • Death place: Stoke-on-Trent, United Kingdom
  • Age: 81 years (at the time of death)
  • Nationality: British
  • Height: 185 cm
  • Spouse: Ursula Banks
  • Children: Wendy Banks, Julia Banks, and Robert Banks
  • Last international team: FL Strikers
  • Retired: 1973

Gordon is the only English goalkeeper to have won a World Cup. He is one of the best English goalkeepers of all time. Gordon Banks made 73 appearances for his country and was named the IFFHS' second-best goalkeeper of the 20th century. His career was cut short when his right eye lost sight due to a car accident that happened on 22 October 1972. Gordon played for Leicester City, Chesterfield, and more teams. He took a break in 1973 after making over 200 appearances for Stoke City and retired in 1978 after playing for America's Fort Lauderdale Strikers (FL Strikers).

13. Peter Schmeichel - Man City

greatest goalkeepers ever
Former Manchester City goalkeeper, Peter Schmeichel. Photo: @pschmeichel1
Source: Instagram
  • Full name: Peter Schmeichel
  • Born: 18 November 1963
  • Age: 59 years (as of February 2023)
  • Birthplace: Gladsaxe Municipality, Denmark
  • Nationality: Danish, Polish
  • Height: 193 cm
  • Spouse: Laura von Lindholm (2019 to present)
  • Children: Kasper Schmeichel and Cecilie Schmeichel
  • Last international team: Man City
  • Retired: 2003

Schmeichel is one of the iconic and dreaded forwards of all time. He gave much confidence to his teammates whenever he was in the lineup because of his brilliant saves. It is hard to even imagine Man Utd dominating English football in the 1990s without Peter Schmeichel. He went to Aston Villa, then Man City, and retired in 2003.

12. Oliver Kahn - Bayern Munich

best goalkeepers in football
Bayern Munich's former goalkeeper, Oliver Kahn. Photo: @oliverkahn
Source: Instagram
  • Full name: Oliver Rolf Kahn
  • Born: 15 June 1969
  • Age: 53 years (as of February 2023)
  • Birthplace: Karlsruhe, Germany
  • Nationality: German
  • Height: 188 cm
  • Spouse: Svenja Kahn (2011 to present), Simone Kahn (1999 – 2009)
  • Children: Katharina-Maria Kahn, Julian Kahn, and David Kahn
  • Last international team: Bayern Munich
  • Retired: 2008

Goalkeeper Kahn is ranked among Germany's most distinguished footballers. Bayern Munich won eight Bundesliga titles, six German Cups, six League Cups, a UEFA Cup, and a Champions League when he was with them. Oliver Kahn won many awards, including the German Footballer of the Year twice, the IFFHS Best Goalkeeper thrice, and the Best Bundesliga Goalkeeper seven times.

11. Petr Cech - Chelsea

top greatest goalkeepers in history
Chelsea's former goalkeeper, Petr Cech. Photo: @petrcech
Source: Instagram
  • Full name: Petr Čech
  • Born: 20 May 1982
  • Age: 40 years (as of February 2023)
  • Birthplace: Pilsen, Czechia
  • Nationality: Czech, Czechoslovak
  • Height: 196 cm
  • Spouse: Martina Čechová (2003 - present)
  • Children: Adela Cech and Damian Cech
  • Last international team: Arsenal
  • Retired: 15 January 2019

Petr Cech is among the best goalkeeper in Premier League history. He achieved many UEFA Champions League, and Europa League titles while at Chelsea. Petr Cech was an essential part of the team's back-to-back Premier League successes. They conceded 15 and 22 goals in 2004 and 2006, respectively. He left for Arsenal and returned to assume the role of Chelsea's technical director. Cech now plays semi-professional ice hockey as Chelmsford Chieftains' goaltender.

10. Dino Zoff - Italian national team

top goalkeepers of all time
Dino Zoff, the former goalkeeper of Juventus. Photo@biografieonline
Source: Facebook
  • Full name: Dino Zoff Grande Ufficiale OMR
  • Born: 28 February 1942
  • Age: 80 years (as of February 2023)
  • Birthplace: Mariano del Friuli, Italy
  • Nationality: Italian
  • Height: 182 cm
  • Spouse: Annamaria Passerini
  • Children: Marco Zoff
  • Last international team: Juventus
  • Retired: 2 June 1983

Zoff is the oldest player to win a World Cup at 40 while still captaining the Italian squad. In addition, he once went 1142 minutes without conceding in international events, a record that he still holds. Dino Zoff made his final appearance with the Italian national team on 29 May 1983 and retired on 2 June 1983. His last international team was Juventus.

9. Manuel Neuer - Bayern Munich

greatest goalkeepers of all time
Bayern Munich's goalkeeper, Manuel Neuer. Photo: @manuelneuer
Source: Instagram
  • Full name: Manuel Peter Neuer
  • Born: 27 March 1986
  • Age: 36 years (as of February 2023)
  • Birthplace: Gelsenkirchen, Germany
  • Nationality: German
  • Height: 193 cm
  • Spouse: Nina Weiss (2017 – 2020)
  • Children: None
  • Current international team: Bayern Munich

Neuer is among the few goalkeepers who can play other positions. Football fans once persuaded him to take the midfielder position. He assumes the roles of a defender or free-kick taker any time Bayern trails behind in important games. Manuel Neuer has transformed everyone's expectations and opinions of goalkeepers by excelling in the 'sweeper keeper' role.

8. Iker Casillas - Real Madrid

goalkeepers of all time
Iker Casillas of Real Madrid CF. Photo: @ikercasillas
Source: Instagram
  • Full name: Iker Casillas Fernández
  • Born: 20 May 1981
  • Age: 41 years (as of February 2023)
  • Birthplace: Móstoles, Spain
  • Nationality: Spanish
  • Height: 182 cm
  • Spouse: Sara Carbonero (2016 – 2021)
  • Children: Lucas Casillas Carbonero and Martín Casillas Carbonero
  • Current international team: Real Madrid

When listing goalkeepers with the most ECCC/UCL titles, Casillas is among the 7 keepers who have won the UCL thrice. He played 725 times for Real Madrid during his 16-year senior career before joining FC Porto in 2015. Iker Casillas was Spain's first-choice goalkeeper from 2008 and 2012 and his trophy collection includes 1 Champions League, 1 World Cup, and 3 European Championships. Casillas returned to Real Madrid in 2022, five years after leaving the club for Porto.

7. Gianluigi Buffon - Juventus

greatest goalkeepers in history
Buffon, Juventus' former goalkeeper. Photo: @gianluigibuffon
Source: Instagram
  • Full name: Gianluigi Buffon OMRI
  • Born: 28 January 1978
  • Age: 45 years (as of February 2023)
  • Birthplace: Carrara, Italy
  • Nationality: Italian
  • Height: 192 cm
  • Spouse: Alena Šeredová (2011 – 2014)
  • Children: David Lee Buffon, Leopoldo Mattia Buffon, and Louis Thomas Buffon
  • Current international team: Parma Calcio 1913

Gianluigi was once the best goalkeeper in the world. Football pundits consider him to be the greatest Italian shot-stopper of all time in the 2000s. They ranked him higher than Dino Zoff. Between 1997 and 2018, the Juventus star played 178 times for Italy, winning the World Cup in 2006. Gianluigi Buffon is among the few recorded players with over 1,100 professional career appearances.

6. Lev Yashin - Dynamo Moscow

top goalkeepers in football history.
The late Lev Yashin of Dynamo Moscow. Photo by Jean-Yves Ruszniewski
Source: Getty Images
  • Full name: Lev Ivanovich Yashin
  • Born: 22 October 1929
  • Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
  • Died: 20 March 1990
  • Death place: Moscow, Russia
  • Age: 79 years (at the time of death)
  • Nationality: Soviet
  • Height: 189 cm
  • Spouse: Valentina Yashina
  • Children: Irina Yashina and Elena Yashina
  • Last international team: Dynamo Moscow
  • Retired: 1970

Lev Yashin was a passionate goalkeeper with great reflexes and jaw-dropping athleticism. Fans nicknamed him the "Black Spider" and the "Black Panther" because he acted like an eight-armed athlete and saved almost all balls aimed at him. Lev Yashin retired in 1970 but played his last match for Dynamo Moscow in 1971 in Moscow.

5. Carl Ikeme - Wolverhampton Wanderers

greatest goalkeepers of all time
Former Wolverhampton Wanderers' goalkeeper Carl Ikeme. Photo: @livefromnaija
Source: Facebook
  • Full name: Carl Onora Ikeme
  • Born: 8 June 1986
  • Age: 36 years (as of February 2023)
  • Birthplace: The Royal Town of Sutton Coldfield, United Kingdom
  • Nationality: English, Nigerian
  • Height: 188 cm
  • Spouse: Saba
  • Children: 2
  • Last international team: Wolverhampton Wanderers
  • Retired: 27 July 2018

The retired player is the longest-serving Wolverhampton Wanderers goalkeeper. He never signed a permanent contract with another club despite spending 15 years on loan at eight different clubs. Carl Ikeme was diagnosed with acute leukemia a year before the 2018 World Cup. He beat the illness but never played again. The soccer legend also missed the Wolves return to the Premier League.

4. Richard Kingson - Wigan Athletic

top goalkeepers in football history
Richard Kingson, a former goalkeeper of Wigan Athletic. Photo: @worldfootball
Source: UGC
  • Full name: Richard Kingson
  • Born: 13 June 1978
  • Age: 44 years (as of February 2023)
  • Birthplace: Accra, Ghana
  • Nationality: Ghanaian
  • Height: 183 cm
  • Spouse: Adelaide Tawiah
  • Children: 2
  • Last international team: Balikesirspor
  • Retired: 2016

Ghanaian retired footballer Richard Kingson has played in two FIFA World Cups (2006 in Germany and 2010 in Brazil) and five Africa Cup of Nations tournaments (1996, 1998, 2000, 2008, and 2010). Birmingham City, Wigan Athletic, Blackpool, and Galatasaray are among the international clubs Kingson has graced. The player joined a Turkish club, Balikesirspor, in 2014 and retired in 2016. Kingson remains one of the best African goalkeepers ever.

3. Edouard Mendy - Chelsea

greatest goalkeepers in history
Chelsea's goalkeeper, Edouard Mendy. Photo: @edou_mendy
Source: Instagram
  • Full name: Édouard Osoque Mendy
  • Born: 1 March 1992
  • Age: 30 years (as of February 2023)
  • Birthplace: Montivilliers, France
  • Nationality: French, Senegalese
  • Height: 194 cm
  • Children: Belinda
  • Children: 2
  • Current international team: Chelsea

Senegalese goalkeeper Edouard Mendy led Chelsea to the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Super Cup victories in 2021. In the same year, he played in the Africa Cup of Nations with his home country, Senegal. Mendy was selected on January 17, 2022, as the best goalkeeper in the world during FIFA "The Best" Awards. He remains one of the greatest EPL goalkeepers of all time.

2. Andre Arendse - SuperSport United

greatest goalkeepers in history
SuperSport United's former goalkeeper, Andre Arends. Photo by Carl Fourie.
Source: Getty Images
  • Full name: Andre Leander Arendse
  • Born: 27 June 1967
  • Age: 55 years (as of February 2023)
  • Birthplace: Cape Town, South Africa
  • Nationality: South African
  • Height: 191 cm
  • Marital status: Single
  • Children: None
  • Last international team: SuperSport United
  • Retired: 2009

Andre made his NSL debut in 1991 for Cape Town Spurs before being loaned to Santos in Cape Town in 1992. Later in his career, he played for Oxford United and Fulham in England, Santos, Mamelodi Sundowns, and SuperSport United. Andre Arendse retired from football in 2009 after winning the Premier Soccer League title with SuperSport United. He is now a co-presenter with SuperSport and Supersport United's assistant and goalkeeper coach.

1. Bruce David Grobbelaar - Liverpool

top goalkeepers in football history
Liverpool's former goalkeeper, Bruce Grobbelaar. Photo: @standardnews
Source: Twitter
  • Full name: Bruce David Grobbelaar
  • Born: 6 October 1957
  • Age: 65 years (as of February 2023)
  • Birthplace: Durban, South Africa
  • Nationality: British, Rhodesian, Zimbabwean
  • Height: 185 cm
  • Spouse: Debbie Grobbelaar (1983 – 2008)
  • Children: Tahli Grobbelaar
  • Last international team: Liverpool
  • Retired: 1999

Grobbelaar is one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time. The Zimbabwean played for the Zimbabwean national team and the English club Liverpool between 1981 and 1994. Bruce Grobbelaar is remembered for his gymnastic-like athletic ability, unflappable confidence, and eccentric flamboyant style. He retired from playing in 1999 after two years of playing in the lower leagues for teams like Bury and Lincoln City.

Who is the greatest goalkeeper of all time?

Italian Gianluigi Buffon holds the record of the world's best goalkeeper because he has the most wins in history. He is closely followed by Manuel Neuer and Iker Casillas.

Who are the best goalkeepers of all time?

Below are the best goalkeepers in the world, according to the history of football, and the teams/clubs where they performed best:

  1. Edwin van der Sar - Manchester United
  2. Gordon Banks - Stock City
  3. Peter Schmeichel - Man City
  4. Oliver Kahn - Bayern Munich
  5. Petr Cech - Chelsea
  6. Dino Zoff - Italian national team
  7. Manuel Neuer - Bayern Munich
  8. Iker Casillas - Real Madrid
  9. Gianluigi Buffon - Juventus
  10. Lev Yashin - Dynamo Moscow
  11. Carl Ikeme - Wolverhampton Wanderers
  12. Richard Kingson - Wigan Athletic
  13. Edouard Mendy - Chelsea
  14. Andre Arendse - SuperSport United
  15. Bruce David Grobbelaar - Liverpool

Who are the best African goalkeepers of all time?

Below are the top five best soccer goalies in history who have roots in Africa and teams/clubs where they performed best:

  1. Carl Ikeme - Wolverhampton Wanderers
  2. Richard Kingson - Wigan Athletic
  3. Edouard Mendy - Chelsea
  4. Andre Arendse - SuperSport United
  5. Bruce David Grobbelaar - Liverpool

Most of the best goalkeepers of all time thrived because of their strong desire to commit to their clubs. They built a strong bond and understanding with their teammates. Most ended their careers after many years of admirable success. Some are still in the game and raising the bar even higher for upcoming goalkeepers.

READ ALSO: The top 10 Football clubs with the most trophies published an article about football clubs with the most trophies. Al Ahly SC has been listed as the most decorated team.

Barcelona and Real Madrid are also on the list. Find out more about the football team with the most trophies from the article.