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Top 5 Goalkeepers For The Moment
5. Thibaut Courtois
Thibaut Nicolas Marc Courtois born 11 May 1992 is a Belgian footballer who plays for Atlético Madrid in La Liga on loan from Chelsea, and the Belgium national team, as a goalkeeper. Despite his young age, he is widely regarded as one of the best goalkeepers in the world, and he won the 2012–13 and 2013–14 Ricardo Zamora Trophies with Atlético Madrid.
Born in Bree, Courtois began his career with local side Bilzen V.V. where he started his career as a left back. Soon after, in 1999, he joined Racing Genk at the age of seven, and it was there that he was converted into a goalkeeper.
Why is he the number 5?
Courtois impressed in his initial spell as Atletico's rebuilt side served notice of their intent to challenge, winning the UEFA Europa League in 2011-12. He kept a clean sheet in the final, and Atletico had the fourth-best defensive record in La Liga for that campaign.
A second year ensued and again Atletico improved; 2012-13 saw Atletifinish third in the table with the best defensive record in the league. They also won the Copa del Rey with Courtois impressing with a string of improbable saves along the way.
This season, his third on loan at Atletico, he has matured into an excellent all-round goalkeeper; the reflexes and agility which had already been a hallmark of his ability have continued to shine, but his consistency, distribution and confidence in taking aerial balls have all improved markedly.
Along the way, Courtois has established himself as the national team goalkeeper for Belgium, shown Chelsea at close quarters just what he is capable of and somehow managed to retain respect and open-mindedness for both his teams in the face of constant questioning about his future.
Meanwhile, he's on the verge of an outstanding double; Atletico are in the Champions League final and at the top of La Liga with three matches left to play.
With the league's best defensive record, of course.
Best Thibaut Saves
4. Petr Cech
The year of the turning point from Petr's point of view was 2004. Indeed, immediately at its beginning the transfer to Chelsea FC was born, despite the fact that the management of Rennes agreed with the London counterparts that the club's goalkeeper number one would stay in the country of the Gallic cock still till the end of the season and only then he would transfer to Stamford Bridge. Before the new chapter begun of the Petr's football life with the sub-title “In the Colours of the Blues”, in spring he still succeeded in helping Rennes to keep the place in the calm middle of the League table and, first of all, was one of the key persons of the national squad at EURO 2004. In Portugal he was the great support of the team on its journey after the bronze medals and, moreover, after the tournament he was declared the best goalkeeper of the whole Championship. In the middle of July, with that visiting card he engaged in the preparation of Chelsea for the new Premier League season. In the team full of stars, under the leadership of the coach José Mourinho, he became established very quickly and at his post managed to cope with the strong competition in the form of Carlo Cudicini. The fight for the post of goalkeeper number one turned out well for Big Pete. This new nickname was invented for him by the captain of the team, John Terry. It was with him that since his engagement at the Thames Petr formed an inseparable pair the harmony of which was the basic pillar of the almost faultless defence of Chelsea. In the first ten League matches the Czech goalkeeper got only two goals...
Why is he the number 4?
Cech's 209th Blues clean-sheet, beating Peter Bonetti's previous club record mark, was another signpost on an outstanding personal journey.
The Czech has shown his courage on many occasions, never more so than in his desire and determination to return from those life-threatening injuries he sustained at the reckless feet of Stephen Hunt in 2007.
Some have suggested Cech is not what he was before that incident. Indeed, for a few years, understandably and despite the helmet, he occasionally showed fractional hesitation when low balls were played across the face of goal.
Like all keepers, Cech does make mistakes. Even the Pope doesn't claim infallibility any more.
But Cech makes fewer than most. He is the understated strongman of the Chelsea dressing room. If he falls out with a manager, that's normally curtains for the manager.
He has also, ever since he came to the club, been a model professional, a man who does his media duties with a dry wit, who is always polite and personable.
Best Cech Saves
3. Gianluigi Buffon
Why is he the number 3?
Long regarded as the finest goalkeeper in the world, Buffon became the most expensive shot-stopper in history when he joined Juventus for £32.6 million in 2001. Since that record-breaking move the Italian has proved his considerable worth for both club and country, culminating in World Cup triumph in 2006.
After winning the 2001-02 and 2002-03 Scudetti in Turin, Buffon stayed loyal to Juventus after they were demoted to Serie B in the Italian match-fixing scandal and he was rewarded with an instant return to the top fight, which inspired the big keeper to sign an extension to his contract until 2012.
Buffon has won everything in the Italian game and was a major part of the Italy side that won the World Cup - enjoying a 453-minute scoreless streak and conceding just two goals (one an own goal and the other a penalty) during the tournament.
His personal accolades include the UEFA award for Most Valuable Player and Best Goalkeeper. He was also named by Pele as one of the top 125 players in the game. The keeper was handed the honour of captaining his nation following Fabio Cannavaro's retirement in 2011.
Strengths: An agile, commanding shot-stopper who is hugely experienced at the highest level.
Weaknesses: Has been caught out a few times from crosses and age is catching with him so his mobility is not what it once was.
Career high: Winning the World Cup in 2006 with Italy.
Career low: Being demoted to Serie B with Juventus following the calciopoliscandal.
Style: Accomplished, commanding, a well respected keeper.
Best Buffon Saves
2. Manuel Neuer
Manuel Neuer had been a Schalke player since the age of five and was described as the "public face" of the club, before he opted to move on to Bayern Munich in 2011.
Neuer had been a regular at Schalke since the 2006-07 season, when he made his debut at the age of 20, and perhaps his finest appearance in a Schalke shirt came in March 2008 when he made a succession of excellent saves, and stopped two penalties in a shoot-out, as the club reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League for the first time at Porto's expense.
A European Under-21 champion in 2009, Neuer decisively transferred his club form to the senior international stage when starring for Germany in the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa. He was unexpectedly elevated to the No. 1 shirt following the tragic death of Robert Enke and an injury to Rene Adler, and, just like his team, belied his tender years with a series of mature performances. Famously, he claimed he "fooled" Uruguayan referee Jorge Larrionda into failing to spot that Frank Lampard's shot had crossed the line for England in the second round.
Why is he the number 2?
Strengths: Neuer's impressive reflexes make him a shot-stopper of real repute but his excellent distribution also ensures he is an offensive threat.
Weaknesses: He could be a more commanding presence in his own box, though Neuer has worked hard on this aspect of his game in recent times.
Career high: Being named his country's No. 1 goalkeeper for the 2010 World Cup finals as Germany impressed en route to a semi-final defeat at the hands of eventual champions Spain.
Career low: A 5-0 hammering at the hands of Kaiserlautern in November 2010 that compounded a desperately poor start to the season for Schalke.
Style: Enthusiastic, accomplished, dynamic. The model of a modern goalkeeper.
Neuer Best Saves
1. Iker Casillas
Captain of his country and a hero to millions of Madridistas, Casillas also has a strong claim to the title of the finest goalkeeper of his generation. The Real Madrid icon has won tournaments with his country at Under-15, U-17 and U-19 level, but his crowning glory was lifting the Euro 2008 and World Cup trophies in two stellar years.
Nicknamed San Iker ('Saint Iker') at Real Madrid, Casillas is a rare homegrown talent among a sea of galacticos having joined the club at the age of nine. He made his first-team debut under the current national coach, Vicente del Bosque, in the 1998-99 season and cemented his place the following year when becoming the youngest goalkeeper to appear in a Champions League final when beating Valencia just four days after his 19th birthday. A rare slump in form saw him dropped for the encounter with Bayer Leverkusen two years later but he appeared as a substitute in the second half in Glasgow and won the trophy for Real with a series of superb saves.
Casillas has been an established and respected member of the first XI ever since and has played a major role in Real's extensive success over the past decade - winning almost everything there is to win in the game.
He is Spain's most capped player, breaking the record held by the legendary Andoni Zubizarreta, and it will take some effort from his rivals for his position - the likes of Victor Valdes and Pepe Reina - to wrestle the national jersey off Casillas.
Why is he the number one?
Strengths: As the last line of defence in a team that often pays scant regard to such an art, Casillas gets plenty of practice and frequently demonstrates his impressive reflexes, superb agility and innate ability to pull off a spectacular save. His forceful personality and will to win ensure he is a born leader.
Weaknesses: His aura of invincibility has been slightly dented due to a handful of mistakes and he can be slightly rash when rushing off his line.
Career high: Lifting the World Cup trophy at Soccer City in 2010.
Career low: A humbling experience at the Bernabeu last season when arch rivals Barcelona smashed six past Casillas in May in a game that effectively clinched the league title for the Catalans.
Style: Energetic, extravagant, commanding, a leader from the back.
Best Casillas Saves
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