A good goalkeeper can mean the difference between success and failure for a team. Here is a look at 10 of the best goalkeepers in the world.
10. Sergio Romero (Argentina & AZ Alkmaar)
Diego Maradona put his faith in the young goalkeeper at the 2010 World Cup and he did not let the Argentina coach down in South Africa. The AZ Alkmaar stopper is quoted as saying that he wishes to move away from the Netherlands into one of Europe’s major leagues.
9. Samir Handanovic (Slovenia & Udinese)
The 6ft 5in stopper is under contract with Udinese until 2012 but do not be surprised if he joins a bigger club soon. Conceding just four goals in 10 2010 World Cup qualifying matches, Handanovic helps form the spine of the team, with his agility and penalty-saving prowess both valuable assets.
8. Tim Howard (US & Everton)
Error prone after joining Manchester United a little too early in his career, the US international has developed into one of the most solid goalkeepers in the Premier League since joining Everton, initially on loan, in 2006. A measure of his progress was a clean sheet against a Spanish side in the 2009 Confederations Cup who had not failed to score in a match since 2007.
7. Mark Schwarzer (Australia & Fulham)
This shot-stopper appears to get better with age. Playing behind solid but far from watertight defenses for Australia and Fulham, he is often called into action and rarely lets his side down, with his reflexes remaining sharp despite his advancing years. A calming influence, Schwarzer rose to prominence after joining Middlesbrough from Bradford City in 1997.
6. Joe Hart (England & Manchester City)
The least experienced goalkeeper on the list, but Hart has made very few mistakes in his time at Birmingham City and Manchester City. His excellent form on loan at St Andrews in the 2009-10 season led to Shay Given losing his place in the Man City side, and Hart is now England’s number one goalkeeper. A superb shot-stopper possessed with calmness and authority.
5. Hugo Lloris (France & Lyon)
Number one for French giants Lyon, Lloris looks to have a promising career ahead of him for club and country. Boasting a long reach and superb reflexes, Lloris is capable of keeping strikers at bay when his team are firmly under the cosh. Previously at Nice, he was signed by Lyon to replace former France international Gregory Coupet. Must improve his decision making.
4. Julio Cesar (Brazil & Inter Milan)
Emerged as Brazil’s first-choice goalkeeper for the 2010 World Cup qualifiers and the Inter Milan stalwart did not let his country down. Has come back strongly from several high-profile mistakes that blighted him earlier in his career. Together with Buffon, Cesar is considered the best goalkeeper in Serie A.
3. Petr Cech (Czech Republic & Chelsea)
Since arriving at Chelsea from Rennes in 2004, Cech has been a model of consistency, rarely making errors and helping the club to three Premier League titles. He recovered from a fractured skull sustained in a controversial challenge by Reading’s Stephen Hunt in 2006. Cech instils confidence in what is a solid Chelsea defense, and although he may have fewer saves to make than many goalkeepers, it is a sign of his class and extreme concentration that he is rarely found wanting when called upon. A busier figure on the international stage.
2. Iker Casillas (Spain & Real Madrid)
‘Saint Iker,’ as he is known at Real Madrid, has been his club’s first-choice goalkeeper since he was a teenager, having come through the youth set-up. He made a few high profile errors for Real Madrid last season, but those should be forgiven considering his years of consistently outstanding performances. Currently the second most capped Spanish goalkeeper after Andoni Zubizarreta and became a World Cup winner in July 2010.
1. Gianluigi Buffon (Italy & Juventus)
Together with Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas, Buffon is thought of my many observers as the best goalkeeper of the last decade. The Juventus custodian has few weaknesses and remains the most expensive goalkeeper in the world following his 2001 move from Parma to Juve.