Schmeichel, Cech, De Gea: Who is the best goalkeeper in Premier League history?

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Sorry about this. We’re about to make you feel old: Peter Schmeichel is celebrating his 57th birthday.

The legendary goalkeeper, who is best known for his hugely successful eight-year spell with Manchester United in the 1990s, has now been retired for 17 years.

In the eyes of many, Schmeichel is the greatest goalkeeper of the Premier League era.

The Dane, who also had spells with Aston Villa and Manchester City, was a colossus in between the sticks.

You could see the fear in strikers’ eyes when they found themselves one-on-one with the 6ft 3in shot-stopper. He was a formable presence capable of pulling off saves other ‘keepers couldn’t.

But where does he rank among the Premier League’s best ever goalkeepers?

We’ve attempted to rank the top 20 and believe us when we tell you it wasn’t easy.

Before we start, honourable mentions must go to the likes of Jussi Jaaskelainen, Asmir Begovic, Carlo Cudicini and Thomas Sorensen.

20. Nigel Martyn

Only four goalkeepers have kept more clean sheets than Nigel Martyn (137).

The former England international played for Crystal Palace, Leeds United and finally Everton before hanging up his gloves in 2006.

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19. Kasper Schmeichel

Son of Peter, Kasper Schmeichel turned out to be a top ‘keeper in his own right.

The Dane began his career at Manchester City before dropping down the leagues in search of regular first-team football. He eventually signed for Leicester City in 2011 and ended up winning the Premier League title with the Foxes five years later.

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18. Mark Schwarzer

Boasting the third-most clean sheets in Premier League history, the Australian is best known for his spells with Middlesbrough and Fulham, although he did spent time with both Chelsea and Leicester before retiring in 2016.

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17. Joe Hart

His reputation may have taken a nosedive in recent years, but let’s not forget that Joe Hart was a quality goalkeeper at his peak.

The Englishman helped City win two Premier League titles and is currently Tottenham’s back-up ‘keeper.

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16. Tim Howard

Things didn’t work out for Tim Howard at Manchester United, but the American went on to enjoy nine happy years at Everton, where he played over 350 Premier League matches.

Howard even managed to net himself a Premier League goal during the 2011-12 season.

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15. Brad Friedel

Another American goalkeeper, Brad Friedel ended his career with the same number of Premier League clean sheets (132) as his compatriot Howard.

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14. Shay Given

Shay Given made 451 Premier League appearances with Blackburn, Newcastle, Man City and Aston Villa. The Irishman pulled off some tremendous saves during his career. It’s well worth checking out his highlight reels over on YouTube.

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13. Pepe Reina

Winner of the Premier League’s Golden Glove award in 2005-06, 2006-07 and 2007-08, Pepe Reina was an excellent goalkeeper for Liverpool during his nine-year stint on Merseyside.

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12. David James

Yes, he made his fair share of errors, but David James has made more appearances than any other goalkeeper in Premier League history and that deserves to be applauded. He also boasts in the second-most clean sheets (169) since the league was formed in 1992.

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11. Ederson

The goalkeeper position was a problem for Pep Guardiola at Manchester City before he signed Ederson from Benfica.

The Brazilian, who has won two Premier League titles, is not only an outstanding goalkeeper but also ridiculously good with the ball at his feet. Give it a few more years and he could be even higher up this list.

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10. Hugo Lloris

It’s eight years since Hugo Lloris joined Tottenham from Lyon and most would agree that the France international has been a superb signing for the north London outfit.

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9. Thibaut Courtois

Now a star at Real Madrid, Thibaut Courtois won two Premier League titles at Chelsea after Jose Mourinho made the tough decision to go with the Belgian as his No. 1 over Petr Cech.

Losing Courtois was a bigger blow for Chelsea than most probably realised at the time.

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8. Neville Southall

If he was born slightly later there’s every chance we’d all regard Neville Southall as the greatest goalkeeper of the Premier League era. The former Everton and Wales star was undoubtedly one of the best ‘keepers of his era.

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7. Jens Lehmann

The goalkeeper in Arsenal’s legendary ‘Invincibles’ side, Jens Lehmann made 147 league appearances for the Gunners before bringing his tally to 148 after a brief return in 2011.

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6. Alisson Becker

A top goalkeeper can be the difference between a good team and a title-winning team. Just look at Liverpool.

After Lloris Karius’s nightmare performance in the 2018 Champions League final, Jurgen Klopp convinced the club to spent big on AS Roma’s Alisson. That proved to be one of the best decisions of Klopp’s career.

In 2020, the world-class Alisson helped Liverpool end their 30-year wait for a Premier League title.

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5. David de Gea

The Spaniard hasn’t been at his world-class best in recent seasons but it’s important to remember just how good he’s been for Manchester United in the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era.

United’s Player of the Year on four occasions since 2013, De Gea has also been named in the PFA Team of the Year five times since arriving from Atletico Madrid in 2011.

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4. Edwin van der Sar

No disrespect to Fulham but it’s incredible that Edwin van der Sar spent four seasons at Craven Cottage before Man Utd signed him in 2005.

The Dutchman was exceptionally good for the Red Devils and won four Premier League titles before retiring in 2011.

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3. David Seaman

A fantastic goalkeeper for both Arsenal and England, the pony-tailed David Seaman had a brief spell with Manchester City at the very end of his career.

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2. Petr Cech

Cech can consider himself extremely unfortunate to miss out on top spot. No goalkeeper has kept more clean sheets (202) in Premier League history than the former Chelsea and Arsenal star.

That he managed to return to world-class form despite fracturing his skull is testament to his incredible professionalism and ability.

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1. Peter Schmeichel

But in top spot, it surely has to be the birthday boy.

During those years with Man Utd in the 1990s, Schmeichel was on a different level to every other goalkeeper, both in the Premier League and overseas.

One of the first superstar goalkeepers, the Dane remains the best of the Premier League era.

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