Liverpool FC: Top Five Goalkeepers of All Time

Abhijit RajaCorrespondent IMarch 30, 2011

Liverpool FC: Top Five Goalkeepers of All Time

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    LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 27:  Pepe Reina goalkeeper of Liverpool fails to stop the shot of Scott Parker of West Ham during the Barclays Premier League match between West Ham United and Liverpool at the Boleyn Ground on February 27, 2011 in London, Engla
    Scott Heavey/Getty Images

    To build a successful team, any team requires a consistent goalkeeper. 

    And one of the reasons that Liverpool has been as successful as it has been over the past 50 years is the great keepers that Liverpool has been fortunate enough to have at different points of time. 

    A goalkeeper typically has a longer time at the top level than players at other positions, and to be considered to be one of the best ever at a club as illustrious as Liverpool, a goalkeeper would be required to spend a significant amount of time at the club.

    Hence, the list only considers the goalkeepers who have made over 150 appearances for the Reds. 

    Two criteria have been used to rank the goalkeepers—The ratio of clean sheets per game and the number of goals conceded per game, and not surprisingly, both the rankings give us similar results.

5. David James

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    4 Oct 1998:  David James of Liverpool in action during the FA Carling Premiership match against Chelsea at Anfield in Liverpool, England. \ Mandatory Credit: Ben Radford /Allsport
    Ben Radford/Getty Images

    Appearances: 277

    Clean sheets per game: 0.37

    Goals conceded per game: 0.99

    Though many people would not like to see "Calamity James" on the list, stats prove that he was one of the better goal-keepers for Liverpool.

    Initially competing with another legend, Bruce Grobbelaar, for a place in the starting eleven, James failed to impress at first, conceding 20 goals in his first 11 appearances.

    However, over the next six seasons, he notched up over 100 clean sheets for Liverpool, conceding only 273 goals on the way, which was less than a goal per game. 

    Member of the infamous "Spice Boys" of Liverpool of the 90s, James made some glaring errors through his Liverpool career, but was largely a good and steady goalkeeper, as his stats prove.

4. Jerzy Dudek

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    ISTANBUL, TURKEY - MAY 25: Liverpool goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek of Poland saves a penalty during a penalty shoot out during the European Champions League final between Liverpool and AC Milan on May 25, 2005 at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul, Turkey.
    Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

    Appearances: 186

    Clean Sheets per Match: 0.40

    Goals Conceded per Match: 0.95

    Best remembered for his performance in the Champions League finals of 2005, Dudek is still remembered fondly by most Liverpool fans.

    He was one of the primary reasons for Liverpool's victory in Istanbul that night, when he made a double save against Andriy Shevchenko in extra time, and also saved shots from Andrea Pirlo and Shevchenko in the shootout, which Liverpool won 3-2. 

    Brought in to replace the out-of-favor Sander Westerveld by Gerard Houllier, Jerzy Dudek spent six seasons at Anfield. 

    He won a nomination for UEFA goalkeeper of the year in his first season at Liverpool, when he helped the club finish second in the league.

    He also provided a man-of-the-match performance in the FA Cup final against Manchester United. 

    When Rafael Benitez came in and brought Pepe Reina into the squad, Dudek lost his starting spot to him, but he stayed on for another year at Rafa's request, which endeared him to almost all the Liverpool fans.

    By having 74 clean sheets in his 186 appearances for the club, conceding just 177 goals along the way, Dudek truly deserves his spot on the list.

3. Bruce Grobbelaar

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    21 Mar 1990:  Portrait of Liverpool Goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar during a Barclays League Division One match against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane in London. Tottenham Hotspur won the match 1-0. \ Mandatory Credit: Ben  Radford/Allsport
    Ben Radford/Getty Images

    Appearances: 627

    Clean sheets per match: 0.43

    Goals conceded per match: 0.85

    Grobbelaar played for Liverpool during its golden phase of the 1980s, winning six league titles, three FA Cups, three League Cups and a European Cup. 

    Known for being eccentric, Grobbelaar played 627 times and sits at eigth place on the all-time appearances list for Liverpool, notching up 267 clean sheets in his Liverpool career. 

    He is also known as the inventor of the spaghetti style while facing a penalty, where he used to bite the back of the net and mockingly wobble his legs in terror. 

    He was highly athletic in nature and was not afraid to speak his mind out—even if it was against his own defenders in case of a mistake.

    He was ever present in the Liverpool squad since the departure of Ray Clemence, until the time of the club's last league title. He played under three great managers of Liverpool in Paisley, Dalglish and Fagan—and the three great managers would endorse Globbelaar's position on the list.

2. Pepe Reina

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    LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 06:   Pepe Reina of Liverpool shouts to his team mates during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Aston Villa at Anfield on December 6, 2010 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
    Mark Thompson/Getty Images

    Appearances: 302

    Clean sheets per match: 0.48

    Goals conceded per match: 0.80

    Brought in from Villareal by Rafael Benitez, he was touted as the best keeper in Spain. 

    Over the past six seasons, he has endeared himself to the Liverpool fans through his impressive performances in front of goal. 

    He had a great start to his Liverpool career, when he broke the record of fewest goals conceded in he first 50 matches, which was held by Ray Clemence, by conceding only 29 goals compared to Clemence's 32. 

    He has also been the fastest goalkeeper to reach 50 and 100 clean sheets, and his stature as a player was confirmed when he was asked to captain the team in the absence of Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher.

    He has won the Premier League's Golden Glove twice, and lost out on a third to Petr Cech.

    Notching over 100 clean sheets in only six seasons at Liverpool just confirms his position on the list and may also rise to the top of the list, if he stays at Anfield for the remainder of his career.

    Most experts agree that retaining his services would be important if Liverpool want to return to the top of the Premier League.

1. Ray Clemence

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    1980:  Liverpool Goalkeeper Ray Clemence throws upfield during a match against West Bromwich Albion at Anfield in Liverpool, England \ Mandatory Credit: Allsport UK /Allsport
    Getty Images/Getty Images

    Appearances: 667

    Clean Sheets per Match: 0.49

    Goals Conceded per Match: 0.73

    No Liverpool fan should contest the position of Clemence at the top of the list of Liverpool goalkeepers. 

    He made 667 appearances for the club, notching up 324 clean sheets in the process.

    He was the part of one of the most successful Liverpool squads, winning five League titles, one FA Cup, a League Cup, three European Cups and 2 UEFA Cups. 

    Signed from Scunthorpe in 1967, Clemence spent fourteen seasons at Liverpool, but it was not until 1970 that he became the first choice goalkeeper.

    His earliest major contribution was in the final of the UEFA Cup in 1973, when he saved a penalty in the first leg against Borussia Mönchengladbach, which turned out to be crucial for Liverpool's victory.

    He was also a significant member of the team that won three European Cups between 1977 and 1981. 

    He also made over 60 appearances for the English national team and left Liverpool in 1981, when his position was threatened by Bruce Grobbelaar.

    He missed just six matches in his entire career at Liverpool and was voted at No. 11 in the poll on the official Liverpool web site's, "100 Players who Shook the Kop," being the highest placed goalkeeper on the list.

Honorable Mentions

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    26 Nov 2000:  Sander Westerveld of Liverpool guards his near post during the FA Carling Premiership match against Newcastle United played at St James Park, in Newcastle, England. Newcastle United won the match 2-1.  \ Mandatory Credit: Ben Radford /Allspo
    Ben Radford/Getty Images

    There were some other goalkeepers as well who lost out on the list on technicalities. 

    Since the list was based on stats, great goalkeepers like Tommy Lawrence and Elisha Scott lost out being on the list.  

    Lawrence was an important member of Bill Shankly's side, whereas Scott is regarded by many traditionalists as the greatest goalkeeper ever. Both of them made about 400 appearances for the club and had over 130 clean sheets to their name. 

    Players like Sander Westerveld, who was central to the treble winning year of 2001 also could not be included due to his short stay at Liverpool, where he only made 103 appearances. 

    There might be agreements or disagreements on the list, which the readers are encouraged to share.

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