Top 10 Goalkeepers in Premier League History
No one lives or dies by the sword quite like a goalkeeper in football. Keep a clean sheet and you’re a hero. Concede that late-minute decider and you become the villain. It’s why keepers are a special breed of player. It’s goes two-fold too when keepers shine weekly in a demanding top-flight league like the Premier League. Over the course of the past 30 years, many of the best keepers in England and indeed the world have shone for sides in the English top flight. Those who have excelled themselves have gone on to become cult heroes and icons to this very day. But just who are the top 10 goalkeepers in Premier League history?
With a stare that has haunted many a striker, no one could claim to be as reliable or dependable as Brad Friedel. Friedel was the definition of consistency. Fearless and driven in any game, the unflappable American always excelled in one on one situations and claiming the ball for his own. He was virtually invincible too as he never, ever missed a game. That’s because Friedel owns the longest streak of consecutive appearances in Premier League history. During spells with Blackburn, Aston Villa and Spurs, Friedel went 310 consecutive games of starting in goal. This was a streak that went from May 2004 until October 2012. With this achievement has come plenty of awards including a spot in the 2002/03 Premier League Team of the Year as well as the 2009 Premier League Merit award.
Despite only playing four seasons in the Premier League, Thibaut Courtois achieved more than many failed to do over triple that time. It helps though that the Belgian is one of the best in the game though. Courtois’ lightning-quick reactions as well as his ability to always cover the net has made him one of the best shot-stoppers of the past decade. It was also a big part as to why Chelsea were extremely successful in the 2010s. Not only did Courtois usurp the legendary Petr Cech, the Belgian won 2xPremier League titles in 2015 and 2017. During this time, Courtois picked up the 2017 Golden Glove award and named Belgian Sportsman of the Year in 2014. All these accolades caught the eye of giant European rivals and Real Madrid signed Courtois in 2018 to bring his English odyssey to an end.
Don’t let the name fool you – Alisson is no pushover. The Brazilian has turned himself into a cult hero at Anfield since joining Liverpool from Roma in 2018. Alisson’s courageous nature and ability to stop the ball in almost any situation has risen him to the elite ranks of keepers today. He has delivered without failure for Liverpool as his remarkably consistent performances helped Liverpool end their league drought when they won the title in 2020. The Brazilian’s efforts have not gone unrewarded having won 2x Premier League Golden Gloves awards in 2019 & 2022 as well as the FIFA Yashin award in 2019. Having also scored a famous goal for Liverpool to aid their Champions League fight in 2021, Alisson has already secured his legend status down on Merseyside.
Manchester City have enjoyed an unstoppable run of titles in the late 2010s and early 2020s – coincidentally starting after the arrival of Ederson. The Brazilian was a relative unknown when he signed from Benfica in 2017 but that’s not the case anymore. Ederson has virtually no flaws in his game with excellent reactions, reading of passes as well as brilliant distribution. All this has added up to him becoming a star in his own right under Pep Guardiola. If the 4 League titles isn’t convincing enough, he has also claimed 3 Premier League Golden Glove awards as well as 2 Premier League Team of the Year nominations. A great keeper who is only set to further his legacy whilst he stays with Man City.
David De Gea
For many people, David De Gea is a someone who splits opinions. Some criticise his errors but others laud his abilities to keep his side single-handedly in a match. Regardless of that, there’s no denying that the Spaniard has been an icon in recent times. De Gea joined Manchester United in 2011 and has been their undisputed number for over a decade. His ability to always cover the net and stop shots has saved United more than most would like to admit. Alongside De Gea’s lone Premier League title in 2013, he has won the admiration of many. This includes no less than 5 Premier League Team of the Year nominations, 4 Player of the Year awards at Old Trafford and the 2018 Golden Glove Award. If you add to the fact that De Gea has notched over 400 appearances for United, he has more than proven his worth as one of the all-time great keepers in Premier League history.
Edwin Van Der Sar
Edwin Van Der Sar was already a top keeper when he moved to England – and his time here only solidified his elite status throughout the 2000s. Surprisingly, the tall Dutchman joined Fulham in 2001 from Juventus as a landmark signing for the newly-promoted club. It was here where English fans got to see his athleticism, leadership and excellent ball control on full display. Of course, Sir Alex Ferguson saw this too and brought Van Der Sar to Old Trafford in 2005 where he would go on to make history. Not only did he win 4 Premier League titles with Man United, he shattered world records too. This came in the 2008-09 season where he went over 1300 minutes without conceding a goal. If you add a Premier League Golden Glove Award, 3 Premier League Team of the Year nominations and numerous accolades with The Netherlands too, Van Der Sar is a great no matter what era you compare him too.
It’s absurd to think that Shay Given never actually won the Premier League during his professional career. The Irishman was an ever-present nominee for best keeper in the league for almost 20 years. His excellent reactions and ability to stop shots at any angle made him a hero no matter where he played. Given’s rise to fame came with Newcastle in the mid-1990s after debuting in 1997. From here, he became an icon on Tyneside making over 350 appearances for the club. During this time, Given would appear in 2 Premier League Team of the Year squads as well as 2006 Newcastle Player of the Year. Further spells with both Manchester City and Aston Villa added to his legacy and secured him a spot as one of the greatest keepers in Premier League history.
For much of the 1990s and early 2000s, fans were in awe whenever they saw the flying ponytail of England keeper David Seaman. Almost all of Seaman’s career came with Arsenal where spent over a decade as the club’s number 1. Seaman’s athleticism made him a standout keeper of his generation and one that few could match for intensity. Under the watch of Arsene Wenger, Seaman won 2 Premier League titles as well as 2 Golden Glove awards in 1994 and 1999. Indeed, the Premier League revealed in 2003 that Seaman had kept the most clean sheets in the competition’s first decade with 130 – no mean feat considering some of his rivals in that race. A great keeper who remains one of England’s best ever in between the sticks.
Few goalkeepers can claim to transform the game but Petr Cech arguably did that when he joined Chelsea in 2004. Cech’s all-round game was almost flawless with stunning reflexes, excellent understanding of the game and a consistency that was nearly unrivalled. It was why Cech set the benchmark in the league season after season. Not only did the Czech superstar win 4 titles with The Blues, he set individual records in the process. His 4xGolden Glove awards is a record in the league and his actions also saw him named Czech Player of the Year 9 times whilst playing in England. He has shattered multiple league records throughout his tenure in England including most clean sheets in a season (24) as well as having the all-time clean sheet record with 202. It’s a glittering CV for one of the best keepers in modern history.
There are few keepers who could inspire a generation but Peter Schmeichel was someone who did just that. The big Dane did that by being the ultimate package. Fearless on the pitch, exceptionally nimble in goal and surprisingly skilled with his feat, Schmeichel could do practically anything. It’s why his time at Old Trafford is still memorable to this day. Not only is his 5 League wins a record for a goalkeeper, Schmeichel was named 3X UEFA Goalkeeper of the Year and is the only goalkeeper to have won Premier League Player of the Year – a feat he achieved in 1996. His legacy is still shining through to this day as he was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in 2003 as well as the Premier League Hall of Fame in 2022. All in all, Schmeichel still stands as one of the greatest keepers to ever grace the game.