Once we finished with our Sports Unbiased Top Ten Active World Football Players article we realized that there was more to be said. While guys like Messi and Ronaldo get all the glory and all the money; it’s the keepers who end up being spoken of in whispers. It’s the keepers who people look back at and ask “how did he do that?” It’s also the keepers who earn names like “San Iker” or “El Divino” or “The Great Dane.” So we decided, in tribute to these warriors between the posts, we should do a top ten list for them as well.
Just like in our last top ten, the method we used for these rankings was simple. Soccer lead editor Kimani Gregoire and myself provided each other with our personal top ten list, and then we compared notes. Points were awarded in reverse order, so a #10 ranking is one point, a #1 ranking is ten points and so on. Our top three were identical this time around and, again, would probably match what most football fans would agree are still the top three keepers in the world, if maybe not the exact order. After that however, our opinions varied widely. We have some of the same names on our lists, but the orders are different, and we both have some of our own ideas on who else fits in the top ten.
So, with that said, let’s get to our top ten. Remember, this is our opinion, and we are more than happy to have a lively debate on who you guys consider the best keepers in the world.
10. Tim Howard and David de Gea Tie – 1 point
Tim Howard has been a stalwart of the Everton defense for the past 7 years, and the US Mens National team for 6 years, though he had some appearances for the US before then. In May of 2012, Howard lodged his 100th clean sheet for Everton, an impressive feat for any keeper.
David de Gea is Manchester United’s first choice keeper. Having transferred in just two years ago from Atletico Madrid in Spain’s La Liga, de Gea has not been prowling the EPL goalposts for very long. But, in only his second year at Old Trafford, he helped United win the League Title. At only 22 years old de Gea still has a lot of learning and growing to do as a keeper, and will only get better, considering most keepers hit their peak years between 27-31 or so.
9. Julio Cesar and Samir Handanovic Tie – 3 points
Julio Cesar has been the starting keeper for the Brazilian National Team since 2004 and while they have not won any of the big tournaments in that time, no one would say much of the blame for that falls on Cesar. At the club level Cesar has won numerous awards and competitions, including a run of 5 straight Serie A titles with Inter from 2005/2006-2009/2010. Along with a Champions League title in 2009/2010. A few years ago Cesar would have been higher up on this list (and been listed on my ballot at all) but he has gotten a bit older, and is now playing for much less glamourous teams than the likes of Inter Milan (he spent last year with QPR, who got relegated from the EPL). However, he still gets the job done between the posts and deserves a spot in consideration as one of the best in the world.
Samir Handanovic took over the reigns as the keeper at Inter Milan last season. He has also played for his home country of Slovenia 62 times since 2004. Tall, at 6’4″, Handanovic makes saves some other keepers cannot strictly because of the length of his arms. Handanovic’s big claim to fame is the record he co-holds from the 2010/2011 season where he saved 6 penalty shots in one season. Something that had not been done since 1948/1949.
8. Hugo Lloris – 4 points
The first choice French National Team keeper, and it’s captain. Lloris is also now the starting Tottenham Hotspur keeper as well. Lloris has been on a meteoric rise since 2006 when he became the starting keeper at Nice in the French Ligue 1. Having won the Ligue 1 goalkeeper of the year award for 3 years straight from 2009 to 2012, Lloris then transferred to Tottenham last season where he was the second choice behind Brad Friedel to start the year, but soon worked his way in to the starting 11 and has not looked back.
7. Pepe Reina – 8 points
Pepe Reina has been starting at the keeper position since the 2002/2003 season when he transferred to Villareal. After spending 3 years there, he then transferred to Liverpool where he was their starting keeper from the 2005/2006 up through last season. This year he is on loan to Napoli, with Liverpool deciding to go another direction with their keeper. Reina has been one of the best, and most consistent, keepers in the world for over a decade. If not for the fact that Iker Casillas, and to a lesser extent Victor Valdes, played football at the same time as him, he could very well have been hailed as the best keeper in Spain.
Here’s what our respective lists looked like from ten down to seven:
|10 - Tim Howard||10 - David de Gea|
|9 - Hugo Lloris||9 - Hugo Lloris|
|8 - Julio Cesar||8 - Samir Handanovic|
|7 - Pepe Reina||7 - Pepe Reina|
Up Next: Numbers 6-1