Positional top fives, beginning with goalkeeper.

I’ve been thinking of new material lately and came up with doing my top 5’s in every position, I’m going to do top five ever, then move on to my top five Premiership players in each position once the first series has finished. Starting us off are my top five goalkeepers of all-time! (These are in no particular order) Obviously these are up for debate, they are just my opinion.

First up is the oldest goalkeeper on the list and one many of you might not have heard of. Lev Yashin was a goalkeeper who was a one club man, playing 326 games for Dynamo Moscow between 1950 and 1970, winning the USSR football championship five times and USSR cup three times. In 1953, he also won the USSR ice hockey cup as goalie for the Dynamo ice hockey team.

He was capped 78 times for the USSR national squad and it is rumoured he kept around 270 career clean sheets, also saving around 150 penalties. At 6 foot 2, he was best known for his imposing stature between the sticks, he also had a superior athleticism despite his large frame and this led to his world renowned nickname ‘The Black Spider’ (Black because of the all black footballing kit he used to wear when playing), he was also known for making amazing reflex saves.

He is the only goalkeeper to date to have won the European Football of the Year Award and the Ballon D’or, awards he won in 1963, He was also voted the best goalkeeper of the 20th century by IFFHS.

He was the innovator of the ‘sweeper keeper’ role which many goalkeepers to this day utilize when a ball is threaded through past their defence. After his retirement he spent many years at an administrative role for Dynamo, his years of service to the club were recognized when a bronze statue of Yashin was erected at the Dynamo Moscow stadium.

Lev Yashin making a save at the 1966 World Cup

Second is the second oldest goalkeeper and one whose name all of you will recognize. Gordon Banks is best known as one of England’s best ever goalkeepers, he is of course the only England keeper to date to have played and won in a World Cup final but his career was so much more than that (even though obviously that was an outstanding achievement).

Banks played 632 career games over a three club, 14-year span; he played for Chesterfield, Leicester City and Stoke City, he also won two League Cups – one with Leicester and one with Stoke. He was an inaugural inductee into the English Football Hall of Fame in 2002 and is widely renowned as the greatest goalkeeper England has ever produced.

One of Banks’ finest moments outside of the World Cup triumph came during England’s defence of the World Cup in 1970 in a match against Brazil. Jairzinho sped past Terry Cooper and swung a cross in which Pele met with a downward header which seemed destined to be a goal, Banks had other ideas and flew across his line and managed to palm the ball over his crossbar. Pele, who had begun to celebrate a goal when he headed the ball, described it as the greatest save he had ever seen.

Banks was voted as the second best goalkeeper ever by IFFHS, behind Yashin.

Gordon Banks

Third up is Peter Schmeichel, a goalkeeper who shot to fame during his time at Man United after being signed for what Sir Alex Ferguson called ‘bargain of the century’ at a fee of just £500,000.

After finishing as a runner-up with Man United in the league in 1992, he helped the club to win their first ever League Cup, but this was not his peak of success for that year. Schmeichel won the 1992 European Championship with Denmark as their starting goalkeeper and his finest moment came when he saved a semi-final penalty kick from Marco Van Basten.

Schmeichel went on to win five Premiership titles, three FA cups, four Charity Shields and he was also involved in the Man United team that so famously won the Champions League in 1999. Schmeichel made 740 career league appearances spanning six clubs – Hvidore, Brondby, Manchester United, Sporting CP, Aston Villa & Manchester City. He also won three league titles with Brondby and a Portuguese Superliga with Sporting CP.

He is the most capped Danish player of all-time with 129 caps and also, bizarrely, managed 11 goals in his career including one for his national team. He holds the record for the greatest clean sheets-to-games ratio in the Premier League with 42% of league games he played in ending with his team not conceding.

He was famous for his intimidating physique, at 6 foot 3 and 16 stone he was certainly a physical presence, even going up for corners when his team were behind. Schmeichel was named UEFA goalkeeper of the year on four separate occasions and was also inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in 2003.

Peter Schmeichel mid-flight for Manchester United

Fourth is Dino Zoff, a goalkeeper who is famous for being the oldest ever winner of a World Cup at the age of 40 years and 4 months. He sits fourth in Italy’s all-time appearances list with 112 caps.

He holds the record for the longest playing time without conceding in international tournaments, he set the record of 1142 minutes between 1972 and 1974. He was the second goalkeeper to ever captain a World Cup winning side, behind Giampiero Combi, a feat which was later repeated by Iker Casillas at the 2010 World Cup.

He made 642 career league appearances combined in Italy for Udinese, Mantova, Napoli and most prominently for Juventus who he appeared for 330 times. He won five Serie A titles, two Coppa Italias and a UEFA cup title in his 11 year stint at Juventus as well as the 1982 World Cup and 1968 European Championship.

He was voted as the best Italian player of the last 50 years in November 2003 by the Italian Football Federation. Zoff was well-known not just for his prowess between the sticks but also for his modesty, respect for his opponents and his ice-cool composure. He was voted as the third best goalkeeper ever by IFFHS behind two of my previous selections – Yashin & Banks.

Dino Zoff turning out for Italy

Last, but certainly not least, is current Spain and Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas. Casillas has made 646 appearances for Real Madrid, he was able to become their most capped goalkeeper by the age of just 27.

He has won five Spanish league titles, one Spanish Cup, four Spanish Super Cups, two Champions Leagues and one UEFA Super Cup during his time so far at Real Madrid. He has also been capped 143 times for Spain – making him Spain’s most capped player ever, he also holds the record of most international clean sheets, as well as becoming the first player ever to reach 100 international wins.

At Euro 2012 he managed to beat Dino Zoff’s long-standing record of 494 minutes without conceding a goal at the European Championships, setting a new record of 509 minutes. He is the only goalkeeper to be crowned IFFHS goalkeeper of the year four times and he was part of the historic Spain team which won three major championships in a row – World Cup 2010 and European Championships 2008 and 2012, becoming the third goalkeeper to ever captain a World Cup winning team, he was also the first keeper-captain to lift the European Championship trophy in 2008.

In August 2012 he was the only Spanish captain to ever win all three domestic titles. He is also the most capped goalkeeper of all-time in the UEFA Champions League.

Iker Casillas captaining Real Madrid
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