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Ranking Brazil's 10 Best Goalkeepers of All Time

Christopher AtkinsContributor IJanuary 13, 2017

Ranking Brazil's 10 Best Goalkeepers of All Time

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    The history of Brazilian football is a virtual who's who of footballing greats. Right across the pitch, the country has produced some of the finest talents ever to play the game—including goalkeepers.

    Unfortunately for Brazilian 'keepers, they often find themselves overlooked. With such a glittering history of fantastic strikers, midfielders and full-backs, it is the goalkeepers who are most easily forgotten.

    That is the sad reality for these brave souls who put their bodies on the line to protect their team's net. They will always be overshadowed by those ahead of them.

    Today, though, we are going to give them the attention they deserve, and take a look at some of the finest players Brazil has ever produced.

    Thus, without further ado, let's take a look at who I consider the Top 10 goalkeepers in Brazilian football history.

No. 10: Manga

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    Haílton Corrêa de Arruda, or Manga, is known as one of the greatest goalkeepers in the history of Brazilian football, despite only appearing for the national team on 12 occasions.

    An idol at Botafogo, for whom he made over 400 appearances, Manga attended the 1966 World Cup in England as first-choice. However, sadly for him, Brazil would drop out of the tournament at the group stage.

    With numerous state championship titles to his name, with an array of different clubs, Manga would go on to win two Brazilian championships in 1975 and 1976 with Internacional.

    They would not be his only league titles, or his finest achievement though.

    During a five year spell in Uruguay, the goalkeeper would clinch four league titles with his Nacional side, as well as collecting Copa Libertadores and Intercontinental Cup titles in 1971.

    In the early '80s, on the final stop of his playing career, Manga would add an Ecuadorian league title to his collection—this time in the colours of Barcelona de Guayaquil.

No. 9: Rógerio Ceni

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    While he would appear higher on many people's list, Rogério Ceni comes in at No. 10 in our selection.

    Longevity may play in his favour, having amassed a 20-year career at São Paulo, but his lack of international recognition means he would struggle to place any higher on our list.

    Ceni has won nearly every competition going with his club, including three Brazilian league titles, two Libertadores crowns, and one FIFA Club World Cup—a competition he excelled in to help secure.

    Besides all that, Ceni is a six-time best goalkeeper in the Brasileirão, according to Placar magazine—who also crowned him the best player in the league of the 2008 season.

    A World Cup winner as a reserve in 2002, Ceni never fully established himself with the national team and won just 17 caps over a nine-year career.

    Outside of Brazil, with over 100 goals as a professional to his name, he has become famed more for his goalscoring than his 'keeping prowess.

No. 8: Júlio César

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    With 64 caps for the Seleção, and over 200 league appearances for Italian giants Internazionale to his name, Júlio César will go down as one of his country's great goalkeepers.

    A five-time Serie A winner, the former Flamengo man reached the pinnacle of his career in 2009-10 when he helped Jose Mourinho's side to a long-awaited Champions League title.

    With his country, Júlio César won both the 2004 Copa América and the 2009 Confederations Cup, but will hold deep regrets at his side's second-half collapse to Netherlands at the 2010 World Cup.

    The current QPR player earned the rare honour for a goalkeeper of a Ballon d'Or nomination in 2009, and was named UEFA Club Goalkeeper of the Year at the time of his Champions League success.

    His form may have dropped off since, but there have been signs since his move to West London that the Júlio César of old may be reappearing once more.

No. 7: Castilho

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    A veteran of four World Cup squads, goalkeeper Castilho is regarded as one of the greatest players in the history of Rio de Janeiro giants Fluminense.

    Renowned for his spectacular saves, the goalkeeper would play 29 times for his country, and earn two World Cup winners medals—although as a backup on both occasions.

    With Fluminense, who he represented on 699 occasions, he would also be unofficially crowned Club World Champion with success at the 1952 Copa Rio.

    Due to his colour blindness, he was said to see balls as bright red, which helped his fast reactions. However, the condition also made it difficult for him in nighttime fixtures.

    He was bestowed the nickname São Castilho (Saint Castilho) by the Fluminense supporters for his efforts while representing the club.

No. 6: Barbosa

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    One of the greatest players in the history of Vasco da Gama football club, where he won six state championship titles and a South American championship, Barbosa is sadly predominantly remembered for just one game.

    Having won the Copa América in 1949 and twice defeated Uruguay in the previous twelve months, Brazil headed into the 1950 World Cup full of confidence that they would win the competition for the first time on home soil.

    The result, of course, was the famous Maracanazo defeat to Uruguay. In the tournament's decisive match, the Seleção lost 2-1 to their rivals, and goalkeeper Barbosa was widely blamed, having been expecting a cross when the winning goal was fired in.

    Despite his many successes, it was that moment that would greatly influence his life and reputation within Brazil. He ultimately won just 17 caps for his country.

No. 5: Emerson Leão

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    Pictured here during his brief spell as Brazil coach in 2001, Leão played on a grand total of 80 occasions for his country between 1970 and 1986.

    He was crowned a World Cup winner in 1970, at the age of just 21, but had spent that tournament as a reserve.

    He would attend the 1974 and 1978 competitions as first-choice and, in his third tournament, became the first goalkeeper to ever captain his country.

    At club level, Leão would be crowned a champion of Brazil on an impressive five occasions, including three whilst wearing the colours of São Paulo giants Palmeiras.

    He has since gone on to win two league titles as a manager, even if his coaching career has not always been as well regarded as his goalkeeping.

No. 4: Dida

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    Another to have won the 2002 World Cup as a reserve, Dida would go on to play a first-choice role for his country at the 2006 competition.

    The FIFPro Goalkeeper of the Year in 2005, Dida's illustrious club career has seen him win a Brazilian championship, the Italian Serie A, two FIFA Club World Cup titles, a Copa Libertadores and countless other honours.

    At international level it is a similar picture, with the 'keeper earning Copa America success in 1999, two Confederations Cup titles, and, of course, a World Cup winners medal during an 11-year career that brought 91 international caps.

    One of the finest shot-stoppers of the modern era, he became particularly renowned for his prowess at saving penalties—a quality which helped him to many of his titles.

    Having come out of retirement for Portuguesa in 2012, he will now represent Grêmio in the 2013 Copa Libertadores.

    n.b. Interestingly, before the 2006 World Cup, Dida had gone 14 consecutive World Cup matches as a substitute at the 1998 and 2002 tournaments.

No. 3: Marcos

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    First-choice goalkeeper for Brazil at the World Cup triumph in 2002, Marcos surprisingly won just 29 caps in a nine-year international career due to the prominence of rivals Taffarel and Dida.

    In that time, though, he would earn World Cup, Confederations Cup and Copa América winners medals, and receive great acclaim for his performances.

    At club level, he is simply revered by fans of Palmeiras, having helped the side to the 1999 Copa Libertadores title, and played well over 500-times for the club.

    It is also widely reported that he came close to joining Premier League side Arsenal following his World Cup triumph (Guardian), but chose instead to help his side in their battle to return to the top-flight following relegation.

    He would eventually retire after a 20-year career in early-2012, following a series of injuries.

    Upon retirement, the outpouring of well-wishers from all across the Brazilian footballing spectrum said much for the high-regard in which the 'keeper was held—both as a player and a person.

No. 2: Taffarel

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    Following 104 caps for the Brazilian national team and a starring role in winning the 1994 World Cup, Taffarel's place in his country's pantheon of greats is unquestioned.

    His career was ultimately defined by penalty saves. Helping Brazil achieve World Cup glory in 1994 will forever be his golden moment, but the entire duration of his career was littered with crucial stops from 12 yards.

    A double league champion in both Italy and Turkey, Taffarel also achieved UEFA Cup glory with Galatasaray in 2000—the club's biggest ever trophy success.

    With the Seleção, besides World Cup glory, the 'keeper would also win two Copa América titles for his country in both 1989 and 1997, as well as reaching the 1998 World Cup final in France.

    His achievements and longevity as Brazil's first choice goalkeeper place him above nearly all others in the history of Brazilian goalkeepers. But, if Taffarel is not No. 1 in our list, then who is?

No. 1: Gilmar

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    Santos and Brazil goalkeeper Gilmar is widely remembered as one of the game's all-time greats, winning two World Cups in 1958 and 1962, as well as countless other titles at club level.

    Gilmar achieved the rare distinction of becoming an idol for both Corinthians and Santos, playing over 300 games for each of the Paulista giants in the 1950s and 1960s—a period in which he won 94 caps for his country.

    While he won numerous titles at Corinthians, it was with Pelé's Santos that he would enjoy his greatest spell of success—winning both the Copa Libertadores and Intercontinental Cup twice in his first two years at the club.

    Effectively a double world champion at both international and club level, Gilmar was without a doubt the most successful goalkeeper of his era anywhere in the world.

    He would go on to attend the 1966 World Cup in London, although as a reserve to Manga, before eventually retiring after an 18-year professional career in 1969.

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