The true backbone of a football team sits with the man protecting the net: The goalkeeper.

You can have an average team with a good goalkeeper and that team is a competitive team. You can have an average goalkeeper on a good team and that team becomes very average. The role of the goalkeeper is key to the success or failure of the team.

DSport has picked up the top 10 goalkeepers of all time, just for you:

Lev Yashin (Dynamo Moscow & Soviet Union)

Lev Yashin

Lev Yashin nicknamed the “Black Spider” or the “Black Panther”, was a Soviet-Russian football goalkeeper, considered by many in the sport to be the greatest goalkeeper in the history of the game. He appeared in four World Cups from 1958 to 1970, and in 2002 was chosen on the FIFA Dream Team of the history of World Cups. He was known for his athleticism, stature, imposing presence in goal, and acrobatic reflex saves.

Yashin earned iconic status for revolutionizing the goalkeeping position by stamping his authority on the entire defense. In 1963, Yashin received the Ballon d’Or, the only goalkeeper ever to receive the award. He was voted the best goalkeeper of the 20th century by the IFFHS.

Dino Zoff (Juventus & Italy)

Dino Zoff

Dino Zoff is the oldest winner ever of the World Cup, which he earned as captain of the Italian national team in the 1982 tournament in Spain. He is the only Italian player to have won both the World Cup and the European Championship. Zoff also achieved great club success with Juventus, winning 6 Serie A titles, 2 Coppa Italia titles, and an UEFA Cup, also reaching two European Champions’ Cup finals in the 1972–73 and 1982–83 seasons, as well as finishing second in the 1973 Intercontinental Cup final.

He is the oldest player to have ever won a World Cup, and holds the record for the longest period without conceding a goal in international football (1142 minutes).

Gordon Banks (Leicester City & England)

Gordon Banks

As probably the greatest English goalkeeper, Gordon Banks is commonly ranked in the top 3 goalkeepers of all time. He made 628 club appearances and has 73 caps for England between 1958 and 1972. Banks’ most notable achievement was victory in the 1966 World Cup. He played in every match and only conceded 3 goals. At club level, he won the League Cup with Leicester and Stoke. Banks won FIFA goalkeeper of the year on an incredible 6 occasions, but his career ended at the age of 34 when a car crash left him blind in one eye.

Peter Schmeichel (Manchester United & Denmark)

Peter Schmeichel

Under Sir Alex Ferguson, Peter Schmeichel won the Premier League five times, the FA Cup three times, and wore the captain’s armband as he lifted the Champions League trophy in his final game for Manchester United in 1999, completing the club’s famous treble-winning season. He helped Denmark win the 1992 European Championship with several great saves and was elected World’s Best Goalkeeper the same year. He is also the most capped player for the Denmark national team, with 129 games between 1987 and 2001.

Oliver Kahn (Bayern Munich & Germany)

Oliver Kahn

Kahn is one of the most successful German players in recent history, having won eight Bundesliga titles, six DFB-Pokals, the UEFA Cup in 1996, the UEFA Champions League and the Intercontinental Cup, both achieved in 2001.

Regarded as one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time, his individual contributions have earned him a record four consecutive UEFA Best European Goalkeeper awards, as well as three IFFHS World’s Best Goalkeeper awards, and two German Footballer of the Year trophies. At the 2002 FIFA World Cup, Kahn became the only goalkeeper in the tournament’s history to win the Golden Ball.

Sepp Maier (Bayern Munich & Germany)

Sepp Maier

One of the greatest player and certainly the best keeper for Germany post war era, Sepp Maier played for Bayern Munich and Germany national team from 1962 to 1979. He guided Germany to world cup and European championship titles while as Bayern Munich keeper won 3 European titles and 3 Bundesliga titles making him one of the most successful keeper to have come from Germany.

Edwin Van Der Sar (Netherlands & Ajax)

Edwin Van Der Sar

Van der Sar is the second most decorated goalkeeper of all time (behind only Vitor Baia) and one of the most successful footballers ever, having won 25 major trophies in his career, mainly at Ajax and Manchester United.

During his career he has played for Ajax, Juventus, Fulham and Manchester United. He is the most capped player in the Netherlands national team’s history. In the 2008–09 season he set the world league clean sheet record by not conceding a single goal for 1,311 minutes. Van der Sar has won several individual awards, including Best European Goalkeeper in 1995 and 2009, and UEFA Club Goalkeeper of the Year in 2009. He is considered, by critics and fellow players, as one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time.

Peter Shilton (England & Leicester City)

Peter Shilton

He currently holds the record for playing more games for the England men’s team than anyone else, earning 125 caps, and he also holds the all-time record for the most competitive appearances in world football. He has the distinction of playing over 100 league games for five different clubs. With Fabien Barthez, he shares a World Cup Finals record of having kept 10 clean sheets. With Nottingham Forest, Shilton won two European Cups and a league title.

Iker Casillas (Spain & Real Madrid)

Iker Casillas

Casillas debuted for the Spain national team in June 2000 at the age of 19. Till date, he has made a national record 167 appearances, making him the joint sixth-most capped male footballer in history. He became the nation’s first-choice goalkeeper at the 2002 FIFA World Cup and went on to play at UEFA Euro 2004 and the 2006 World Cup. In 2008, he was made captain of the Spanish team, leading them to their first European Championship in 44 years by winning Euro 2008. Under Casillas’s captaincy, Spain went on to win its first ever World Cup in 2010 and retain the European Championship in 2012.

Gianluigi Buffon (Italy & Juventus)

Gianluigi Buffon

This popular Italian goalkeeper began his career with Parma in 1995, but has spent the majority with Juventus. Buffon has made over 600 club appearances and has more than 130 caps for Italy. He won the UEFA Cup and the Coppa Italia with Parma, and has 4 Serie A titles with Juventus. In 2006, Buffon helped Italy to victory in the World Cup. He only conceded 2 goals in the 7 matches; a penalty and an own goal by a team-mate. He is widely regarded by players, pundits and managers to be one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time

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