- By Peter Muldoon – TFN Editor
Since the inaugural Premier League season in 1992/93, the English game has been home to some of the world’s best goalkeepers. Coming from both home and abroad these shot stoppers have played a pivotal role for sides at both ends of the table. Some arrived for large fees and with great expectation while others rose up through academies and were relatively unheard of before going on to star in the top flight. We have decided to take a look at the ten best goalkeepers from this era, taking into account ability, success and longevity among other measurements.
10. David de Gea
Prem History: Manchester United (2011-present)
De Gea arrived in Old Trafford from Atletico Madrid for a fee of £17 million in 2011, a Premier League record for a goalkeeper. Clearly a man of great potential, the pressure showed in the early years of David’s early years at United as he was prone to costly errors every so often and appeared uncomfortable under high balls or cross-ins. Since then de Gea has matured into the finest keeper in the league and after a hugely impressive 2014/15 season he is favourite to replace Iker Casillas at Real Madrid.
9. Nigel Martyn
Prem History: Crystal Palace 1992-95), Leeds United (1996-03), Everton (2003-06)
Having started his career with Bristol Rovers he moved to Crystal Palace where he became the first £1million goalkeeper in British football. Martyn then left Palace in 1996 to spend six seasons at Leeds United in which time Leeds continually competed towards the top of the Premiership reaching the Champions League semi finals in 2001. He went on to win 23 England caps. An ankle injury forced him to retire in 2006, following three seasons at Everton. His 138 Prem clean sheets is the fifth best in the Premier League era.
8. Mark Schwarzer
Prem History: Middlesbrough (1997-08), Fulham (2008-13), Chelsea (2013-15), Leicester City (2015-present)
Aussie legend Mark Schwarzer sits at number eight in our list due to his phenomenal longevity. Since making his Prem debut in 1997 Schwarzer has gone on to make 549 league appearances. This included a 10 year stint at Middlesbrough, in which time they won the League Cup in 2004 and enjoyed a fabulous run to the UEFA Cup final in 2006 only to be defeated by Sevilla. After Boro’s relegation in 2009 Mark moved to Fulham and enjoyed another amazing European Cup run reaching the inaugural Europa League final only to fall short against Atletico Madrid. Schwarzer has since played for Chelsea and Leicester City further cementing his position as a Premier League legend.
7. Brad Friedel
Prem History: Liverpool (1997-00), Blackburn Rovers (2000-08), Aston Villa (2008-11), Tottenham Hotspur (2011-15)
Giant US stopper Brad Friedel made a difficult start to Premier League life as he struggled to perform following his transfer to Liverpool. He swapped Anfield for Ewood Park and it was at Blackburn Rovers that he made his name. He was at the centre of a successful era for Rovers as they continually made top ten finishes under manager Mark Hughes. Friedel moved on to Aston Villa after eight years at Blackburn and his performances continued to better with age. He eventually got a move to high flying Tottenham Hotspur but lost his place in the first team to Hugo Lloris before retiring earlier this summer. Still his 450 Premier League appearances and 132 clean sheets makes him a Prem legend!
6. David James
Prem History: Liverpool (1992-99), Aston Villa (1999-2001), West Ham (2001-04), Manchester City (2004-06), Portsmouth (2006-10)
David James is one of the Premier League’s greatest ever goalkeepers. He may not have a trophy cabinet bursting with silverware like other keepers in this list but Jamo was a model of consistency throughout much of the Premier League era. He began his career with Liverpool before representing Aston Villa, West Ham, Manchester City and Portsmouth. His finest moment came in 2008 with Pompey when at the age of 38 James lifted the FA Cup trophy defeating Cardiff City in the Wembley showpiece. In total he made 572 Prem appearances, more than any other shot stopper in Premier League history. He has also had more clean sheets than any other goalkeeper in the Premier League era with 170 shut outs.
5. Shay Given
Prem History: Blackburn Rovers (1994-97), Newcastle United (1997-09), Manchester City (2009-11), Aston Villa (2011-15), Stoke City (2015-present)
Given is the longest serving keeper in Prem history having began his top flight career with Blackburn Rovers in 1994/95. 21 years later and Shay has just signed a two year deal at Stoke City. He is a great shot stopper and has rarely made any mistakes throughout his lengthy career in the top flight. He is renowned for his 11 year stay at Newcastle United where he became one of the Toon’s greatest ever goalkeepers. Spells at Manchester City and Aston Villa followed, Shay has also picked up 128 caps for the Republic of Ireland, having represented his national side at the 2002 World Cup and in Euro 2012.
4. Edwin van der Sar
Prem History: Fulham (2001-05), Manchester United (2005-11)
Van der Sar arrived at Craven Cottage with a huge reputation from his achievements at previous clubs. But his arrival did not let Fulham fans down as he played a big role in establishing the Cottagers as a Premier League club. It was not until 2005 when he transferred North to Old Trafford where he found real success. Manchester United had struggled to find a replacement for the great Peter Schmeichel but VDS did just that. He played a pivotal role as United won four league titles in five years as well as winning the Champions League final against Chelsea in 2008. He hung up his gloves in 2011 and is fondly remembered by all United fans.
3. David Seaman
Prem History: Arsenal (1992-03), Manchester City (2003-04)
Brought in by George Graham in the summer of 1990, Seaman became one of Arsenal’s greatest ever goalkeepers. He won the league title in his first season at Highbury and the success continued into the Premier League era as he was at the spine of two more league titles. Such was the presence of the Englishman in the Gunners’ first team there was a considerable void left that took a number of years to fill following his exit for Manchester City in 2003. Injury cut short his career at Eastlands as the 75 cap England international was forced into retirement.
2. Petr Cech
Prem History: Chelsea (2004-15), Arsenal (2015-present)
Largely unknown when he signed for Chelsea from French side Rennes for just £7 million in 2004, Cech has since become one of the Prem’s greatest ever goalkeepers winning four league titles with the Blues as well as four FA Cups, the Champions League and the Europa League. Having ousted Carlo Cudicini in his first season at Stamford Bridge he held on to the No.1 shirt for nine more seasons before he was eventually replaced by Belgian prodigy Thibaut Cortois in 2014/15. Cech secured a move across London to Arsenal in June and is set to be a key figure for the Gunners for years to come.
1. Peter Schmeichel
Prem History: Manchester United (1992-99), Aston Villa (2001-02, Manchester City (2002-03)
Signed for just £505,000 in 1991, a fee later described by Sir Alex Ferguson as “the bargain of the century”, Schmeichel went on to become one of the greatest ever goalkeepers. During his career at Manchester United he became the first goalkeeper in the Premier League era to keep 100 clean sheets. His time at Old Trafford was a time of great success for the club, winning five league titles crowned by a captaining United to Champions League success in 1999 in his last ever appearance for the side. He later became the first goalkeeper to score in the Prem as he netted for Aston Villa against Everton he went on to play for Manchester City before he hung up his gloves.