The Best Goalkeepers in World Cup History

Best Goalkeepers Of World Cup History


The first All Star goalkeeper was Enrique Ballesteros, who played for the champions Uruguay. Ballesteros kept clean sheets in both group matches, and overall conceded just three goals in four matches.


Four years later the award went to Spaniard Ricardo Zamora. Spain played three matches in the tournament, as they were eliminated at the quarter final stage, and Zamora was beaten three times. Zamora won 46 caps for Spain, once playing on after breaking his sternum during a match, he was also a controversial figure, and was once arrested for attempting to smuggle cigars. Zamora was succeeded as top World Cup goalkeeper by the Czechoslovakian Frantisek Planicka. Planicka, who also played in 1934, captained his side to a 3-0 first round victory over the Netherlands, and then a 1-1 quarter final draw with Brazil. Both games went to extra time, meaning Planicka conceded just one goal in 240 minutes played. Remarkably, he broke his arm during normal time against Brazil, but still completed the match. He did however miss the replay, which saw his side eliminated.

The next World Cup was not played until 1950, when the competition was once again won by Uruguay, and again a Uruguayan was named best goalkeeper. Roque Maspoli conceded five goals in four games, but just once in the final group match against Brazil, which saw his side seal the title with a 2-1 win. Gyula Grosics of Hungary took the accolade in 1954. Grosics was a key element in the side which reached the final, but ultimately could prevent a victory for West Germany. He went on to keep goal in two further World Cup tournaments.

Harry Gregg - The Hero of Munich

The top keeper in 1958 was Northern Irishman Harry Gregg, who kept a clean sheet against Czechoslovakia as the Irish shocked the world by reaching the last eight. Gregg was already a hero in many eyes however, having been involved in the Munich Air Disaster earlier in the year, when he helped to pull several of his Manchester United team mates from the burning wreckage. In 1962 Viliam Schrojf emulated his countryman Frantisek Planicka by being voted the All Star goalkeeper of a World Cup. Like Gyula Grosics, Schrojf played in three World Cups, and the 1962 tournament was the pinnacle of his career, as he was instrumental in his side reaching the final. Unfortunately he was at fault for two goals as Brazil won the match 3-1.

In 1966 Gordon Banks kept four clean sheets as England won the World Cup, and was voted the best keeper in the competition. He was later voted the second best goalkeeper of the twentieth century after Lev Yashin. Despite these achievements, he is probably best remembered for a remarkable save made against Brazil in the 1970 World Cup, which kept out a header from Pele, who later described it as the best he had ever seen. However it was not Banks but Ladislao Mazurkiewicz who was the All Star keeper of 1970. Mazurkiewicz became the third Uruguayan to win the honour, although unlike his two predecessors he was not a World Cup winner. He conceded just one goal in four games as Uruguay reached the last four, where they were undone by Brazil.

World Cup Winning Goalkeepers

The next World Cup saw Poland record surprise victories over Argentina, Italy, West Germany and Brazil on their way to clinching third place in the competition. The Polish number one Jan Tomaszewski was rewarded for his part in these achievements with a place in the All Star team. He also became the first keeper to save two penalties during a World Cup. His successor in 1978 was Argentinian stopper Ubaldo Fillol, who like Ballesteros for Uruguay and Banks for England kept goal for the home nation as they won the trophy. Fillol played a total of 58 times for Argentina, including participating in three World Cups.

In 1982 Dino Zoff captained Italy to World Cup victory, and was named the best keeper in the tournament. Zoff was 40 years old, and nearing the end or a career which would eventually see him garner 112 caps. He was named the third best goalkeeper of the century after Yashin and Banks. A more controversial goalkeeper at the 1982 tournament was West German Harald Schumacher. During a match against France Schumacher made a challenge on Patrick Battiston that left the Frenchman unconscious with a damaged vertebrae and two teeth knocked out. Schumacher escaped censure for the collision, and in 1986 he gained a measure of redemption when he was included in the All Star team. 1990 saw the accolade go to the Argentinian, Sergio Goycochea, who only came into the side after an injury to another player. Goycochea kept goal as the Argentines won penalty shoot outs in the quarter and semi finals, but he could not prevent a 1-0 victory for West Germany in the final.

The Yashin Award

Since 1994 there has been a specific award for the best keeper in the tournament: The Yashin Award, named after the iconic Lev Yashin who kept goal for the Soviet Union, and was voted greatest keeper of the twentieth century by the International Federation of Football History and Statistics. The first recipient was Michel Preud’homme, who managed to impress for Belgium even though his side could not get beyond the last sixteen. Fabien Barthez won the honour in 1998, joining the list of goalkeepers who have won the World Cup on home turf while picking up the award. Barthez conceded just two goals in the competition. German keeper Oliver Kahn then won the 2002 Yashin Award, having helped his side to second place in the tournament. In a throwback to the days of Planicka and Ballesteros he played much of the final with an injured finger, which may have contributed in part to the goals he conceded. The most recent recipient of the award was the Italian shot stopper Gianluigi Buffon, who like Barthez went through seven matches conceding just two goals.

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