Despite paying more attention to statistics in recent years, football still cannot hold a candle to the likes of baseball and gridiron football, where the tracking of numbers is almost a sport in and of itself.
When it comes to the goalkeeping position, the absence of stats—or at least the failure to consider them—is especially evident.
Few metrics are readily available for measuring a goalkeeper’s performance and form, and in the absence of them we revert to platitudes such as “good shot-stopper” or lazily disregard any ‘keeper who doesn’t represent a fashionable club or whose side isn’t near the top of the table.
Granted, statistics paint only a part of the picture when it comes to keeping the ball out of the back of the net.
There are typically 10 players operating in front of the ‘keeper, and their contributions must be taken into account. As must a ‘keeper’s ball distribution, game management and level of confidence he inspires in his teammates.
These factors are not easily measured; they are better observed. And it’s here that the exercise of ranking the best goalkeepers in the world becomes somewhat subjective.
In the following list we’ll put particular weight on statistics, with observational criteria considered in a secondary capacity.
Let’s get to it.