With our beloved Premier League celebrating it’s 25th Birthday this year, we thought it would be the perfect time to take a look at five of the greatest goalkeepers to have graced the famous competition over the years …
David De Gea – Manchester United
De Gea arrived at Old Trafford from home town club Atletico Madrid as a skinny 20-year-old in 2011, and initially struggled to adapt to the rough and tumble of English football.
The Spain international soon overcame these initial difficulties and has blossomed into a world class goalkeeper of the highest order. His shot stopping and close range reflexes are quite simply unrivalled.
Despite United struggling for consistency after the departure of long term manager Sir Alex Ferguson, De Gea’s brilliance has been one of the few constants at Old Trafford over the last five seasons.
The 27-year-old has at times in recent years single handedly saved his team, and the fact that he has been voted fans player of the year in three of the last four season tells you everything you need to know about his importance to his club.
David James – Liverpool, Aston Villa, West Ham, Man City and Portsmouth
The likes of Edwin van der Sar and Jens Lehmann will feel hard done by to miss out here, but James gets the nod due to his longevity.
The former England international is third in the list of all time Premier League appearance makers after playing 572 games during his journeyman career.
James was an eccentric ‘keeper who had an amazing ability to lurch from making gravity defying world-class saves one minute, to fumbling the most routine of crosses the next.
He also gave us one of the funniest moments in Premier League history when he made this famous cameo up front for Man City.
Petr Cech – Chelsea and Arsenal
Cech has the most Premier League clean sheets in history, and recently completed his 200th ”shut out”, as our Americans friends would say.
Due to the fact the former Czech international has become somewhat error prone for Arsenal in recent years, it’s easy to forget just how imperious he was in his prime.
During his first seven or eight seasons with Chelsea, Cech was head and shoulders above any other goalkeeper in England. His superb shot stopping ability and excellent command of his defence was the rock on which the most successful era in the Stamford Bridge clubs history was built.
It is often said that no team will win silverware without a top class ‘keeper in their team, and Cech’s record of winning four Premier Leagues, four FA Cups, and the Champions League shows you just how good he was at his best.
David Seaman – Arsenal and Man City
What always amazed about long time Arsenal and England number one Seaman was the efficiency at which he carried out his job for his team. Quite often ”old safe hands,” as he was known would come off the pitch, looking like he was ready for a night out.
Seaman played much of his career in an era when pitches were far from the pristine surfaces we see today, yet he mostly emerged after a game without a speck of dirt on him. He was the antithesis of the showboating goalkeeper who makes routine saves look spectacular for the watching cameras.
I watched him time after time and he rarely seemed to dive, but at the same time rarely conceded any goals. He was of course helped by the fact he played with a Arsenal back four that is regarded as one of the best English football has ever seen, but his ability to anticipate what a striker was about to do was second to none, and meant that he rarely had to go diving full length to stop the ball hitting the net.
Goalkeeping in it’s purest form is an understanding of the angles of the goal in order to minimise the chance of conceding and in this regard Seaman was a master.
His would win three league titles, four FA Cups and make 75 appearances for England during a superb career, and there is probably only one goalkeeper in Premier League history that can claim to be better than him …
Peter Schmeichel – Man United, Aston Villa and Man City
The man, the myth, the legend. Schmeichel is and was the greatest number one the Premier League has ever seen.
He is of course most fondly remembered for the hugely successful eight seasons he spent between the sticks for Man United from 1991-1999.
The Great Dane as he was known was a colossus of a man. He used his shovel like hands to pick crosses out of the air with ease and was probably the best keeper in one-on-one situations the game has ever produced.
Schmeichel used his size and aura to basically bully strikers into missing their chances at times, and he could often be seen berating his own team-mates if he thought opposition attackers were being given too much room.
He is undoubtedly one of the most important signings Sir Alex Ferguson ever made. Schmeichel wasn’t just a so called ”nine points a season keeper,” he was THE nine points a season keeper, and remains the reference point for all other Premier League keepers to be compared against.
The great Dane made 350 Premier League appearances, winning five EPL titles, four FA Cups and the Champions League.