Europe’s Top Goalkeepers

by Jake Allingan


Scrutiny in your job is to be expected; after all, you wouldn’t expect the manager of your local bank to just sit back and watch you make error after error, costing them countless amounts of money, all the while happily chewing on a piece of gum.

It’s something which has become accepted throughout the country; in the times of economic crises, it is up to companies to ensure they have the people who optimise what they are trying to achieve.

Would you accept it if the cashier dropped your apples all over the floor? If it happened once, fine, move on, everybody makes mistakes. But what about if they did it consistently?

You’d choose a new cashier.

So why should managers and supporters of Europe’s top football clubs accept sub-standard goalkeepers in times like this, in a game bursting to the rims with money?

Why do they deserve thousands of pounds every week?

It’s probably the most important position on the field, despite going unnoticed for so long. It’s a place of patience, of concentration, two skills which cannot waver throughout the whole ninety minutes, lest that blip cost the team the result which they deserve.

It’s a position that’s coveted – managers know that a good goalkeeper will save them points throughout a season, and a poor one will consistently lose them.

So which goalkeepers in Europe are the ones most worthy of the overlarge wages players receive today?

Joe Hart

England’s number one, signed for the bargain price of £600,000 from Shrewsbury – who at the time may have thought they had gotten a great deal – is undoubtedly one of the best in Europe at the moment. His almost inhuman ability to conform his limbs into something like a net makes him a hugely difficult barrier to breach, reminiscent of the great Peter Schmeichel. His recent showing against Liverpool was a match-winning showing, the type of performance which justifies the selling of Shay Given. Dominant in the air and equipped with lightening reflexes, there isn’t much the 24-year-old isn’t capable of; one thing he may be faulted for is his distribution, although even that isn’t bad. In Hart, England have a goalkeeper worthy of their number one shirt for years to come, a goalkeeper who can make sure they don’t have to worry about their defence and instead focus on attack.

Iker Casillas

When looking back on a player’s career, people often judge them by the honours they’ve won – if this is done to Iker Casillas, he will be remembered as one of the greatest of all time. Four times FIFA world’s best goalkeeper, World Cup (in which he won the golden glove), European Championship and Champions’ League winner, four times La Liga victor. People mention the fact that Spain’s team is so good they don’t need to worry about having a world-class goalkeeper; with such an outstanding squad, how often will he be tested anyway? What they forget is that Casillas is the bedrock for that team, the captain, the person who inspires the success which his national team have achieved recently. Without Casillas, the team would be devoid of a proper leader – without Casillas, there would be a lack of drive for that team. Forget his sublime reactions or his immense dealings with one-on-ones. Iker Casillas is more than just a goalkeeper, and that’s why he’s valued so much

Maarten Stekelenburg

Manchester United mourned the retirement of Edwin Van der Sar as though the stopper had died – his loss to their team was monumental. After searching for so long for Schmeichel’s successor, Van der Sar ticked all the boxes. Then the search began again.

In Stekelenburg, Holland already have the natural heir to Van der Sar’s throne – meticulously precise in all areas with the flashes of brilliance required to succeed at the highest level, the 29-year-old is coming into his prime at the perfect time for Bert van Marwijk’s team to succeed at the upcoming European Championships. After a terrific World Cup in 2010, the 6ft 6in stopper was regarded as United’s prime target this summer – but the current English champions were pipped by AS Roma. With 5 clean sheets this season, along with 18 conceded goals in 15 games (from league game only), the stats don’t show everything – but fans should be aware of the immense talent confined within the 18 yard boxes of Serie A.

Manuel Neuer

Brought to Britain’s attention due to his one man show for Schalke against Manchester United in the Champions’ League clash last season, Manuel Neuer now plys his trade for the perennial German giants Bayern Munich. The formidable figure took the national goalkeeper spot in unfavourable circumstances; fans are now left in little doubt that he would have secured the slot without the tragic happenings surrounding it.

In contrast to Stekelenburg, the stats don’t lie for Neuer; 19 league games, 13 goals conceded, 11 clean sheets. He’s a domineering presence, a goalkeeper who opposing players think twice about before jumping with him for a ball. His communication is top notch – and although some believe Rene Adler deserves the German jersey, there is no doubt in my mind it will be in Neuer’s possession for years to come.