FC Barcelona: Top 5 All-Time Goalkeepers
After working my way backwards form strikers to midfielders to defenders, it’s only logical that I address the finest goalkeepers in Barca history too. Because keepers tend to have a longer career than their outfield teammates, this slideshow only features five goalies.
As it has been my policy throughout, this slideshow is NOT a ranking. I was tasked to compile a list of the five best goalkeepers in the history of FC Barcelona, not to rank them. Even if I would’ve been asked to do so, I would have refused on the grounds that I’m too young to give a proper assessment of the player.
However, I would appreciate it if you leave your personal ranking in the comments section.
Antoni Ramallets (1946–1961)
The goalie of the “Cinco Copas” era and eventual captain of FC Barcelona. During the latter stages of his career, he captained the Blaugrana to multiple La Liga and Copa del Rey trophies. A remarkable feat considering the fact that “gato de Marcana” wasn’t an outfield player.
To this day, awarding the captaincy to a goalkeeper isn’t exactly standard procedure. Only a chosen few have been granted this honor over the years, and it takes a special goalie to captain such an illustrious club such as FC Barcelona.
However, his biggest “failure”, both as a player and captain, must have been the own goal he produced in 1961 European Cup final against Benfica Lisbon when Barca lost the game 3-2.
Salvador Sadurní (1961–1976)
The three-time winner of the Ricardo Zamora Trophy (1968-69, 1973-74, 1974-75) was considered to be the natural successor to Ramallets. Just like his predecessor, Sadurni would become the captain of FC Barcelona, albeit not as successful.
According to the official FC Barcelona homepage, Sadurni was also the hero of “the bottle final” in 1969, when the Blaugrana won a (not the) Spanish Cup in the extremely hostile environment of the Santiago Bernabeu.
Javier Urruticoechea (1981–1988)
The certified (read: official) Barca legend actually played for cross-city rivals Espanyol before switching alliances in 1981. When having played for eternal rivals Real Madrid is considered a stigma, then being an ex-Espanyol player is something just as offensive, at least to the supporters of FC Barcelona.
However, just like Luis Enrique would do years later, the Basque showed as much commitment as anyone on the pitch. During his time in Barcelona he would win almost every trophy available to him in club football except the Champions League.
Andoni Zubizaretta (1986–1994)
The current sporting director of FC Barcelona was a formidable goalkeeper in his prime.
“Zubizarreta was one of the greatest goalkeepers in the history not only of FC Barcelona, but of Spanish football in general.” – www.fcbarcelona.com
He amassed a massive 126 international caps and is the record holder with the most games played in the Spanish top flight. Zubizaretta is perhaps the first (and only) goalkeeper to captain a club side to Champions League glory. He bettered Ramallets record when he lifted the cup with the big ears in Wembley after the 1992 final.
Victor Valdes (2002–20??)
Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images
Valdes is easily the most decorated and successful goalkeeper in Barca history. However, his contribution to the team is often times overlooked or even belittled. He is not always recognized as the world-class goalkeeper that he is. Valdes only made his debut with the Spanish national squad THIS year.
But before implying a conspiracy against him, it must be said that until a couple of years ago Valdes had the tendency to make the biggest blunders at the most inconvenient time. In typical Valdes-fashion, he could be world-class and not even Sunday-league material in the same game.
Nevertheless, in the last two campaigns the relative low amount of concede goals can be (in part) attributed to his consistency and composure.
The common criticism of FC Barcelona (besides not having a Plan B) is the supposedly weak defense, if that’s the case – doesn’t the low amount of conceded goals make Valdes, by default, a world-class keeper?
Whatever the case might be, while the press is still split over Valdes, he added World Cup winner to his ever-improving CV.