Top 5 penalty-saving goalkeepers (Video)

Penalties are great fun for a neutral fan but a horrible watch if your team is involved. There is nothing tenser than the 12-yard lottery and English fans will no more than most of the heartbreak ensured when your team loses. With no major international tournament this summer, penalties may not be in store, but the shoot-out could once again be brought out for the Champions League final next week. Some say you cannot re-create a penalty in training, and it all comes down to nerves on the day. Goalkeepers often enjoy penalties as they have the chance to be a hero, and remain calm being the underdog. Here are my top 5 penalty-saving goalkeepers;

5. David Seaman

The long-time Arsenal goalkeeper famously enjoyed penalty shoot-outs, and was playing in goal for England on a rare penalty victory over Spain in Euro 96. England’s famous run lasted until the semi-final stage, and they had their number-one to thank for this inspired piece of goalkeeping to overhaul the Spaniards, who had been the better team for most of the game. England eventually lost on penalties to Germany in the semi-finals, but for now enjoy the rare sight of our team succeeding where we usually fail. Seaman saved from Miguel Nadal in this match and went on to be selected in the Euro 96 team of the tournament.

4. Jens Lehman

Germany and Argentina both had perfect records in penalty shoot-outs before they began their quarter-final clash in the 2006 World Cup. So when the game ended 1-1, thanks to Miroslav Klose’s late equaliser for the host nation, something had to give. It was another Arsenal goalkeeper Jens Lehman who was in goal for Germany, taking over from long-time number-one Oliver Kahn. Argentina, the favourites for the title, came unstuck against the hosts, thanks largely to Lehman’s penalty saving. After Julio Cruz had scored for Argentina from the spot, Lehman saved from Roberto Ayala, and his German team-mates ruthlessly converted in text-book style. Lehman’s success derived from the fact he had written down the directions the Argentines were most likely to shoot based on previous matches, and even though he let two penalties in, he guessed the right direction every time. The last Argentine penalty taker was Esteban Cambiasso, who needed to score to save his country. But Cambiasso’s name was not on Lehman’s list. The little Argentine saw Lehman look at his list before he stepped up, and perhaps psychologically the Inter-midfielder was thrown by Lehman’s tactics as the German saved his effort. The fight after the match will also live long in the memory.

3. Jerzy Dudek

Liverpool’s Polish goalkeeper was known for his eccentric style and occasional blunder, but it was his amazing penalty stopping ability that won the Champions League for Liverpool in 2005. After Liverpool came from 3-0 down to tie with the Italian Champions Milan, Dudek saved penalties from Andrea Pirlo and Andriy Shevchenko to win the title for the Merseyside-club. Although Dudek lost his place in the team to Pepe Reina the following season, his wobbly-legs tactic to fool Milan was legendary.

2. Pepe Reina

The following season Liverpool had recruited a new goalkeeper in Reina, who was between the sticks for the Reds FA Cup final against West Ham, which had again gone all the way to the 12-yard lottery. Reina had a very good opposing number-one in Shaka Hislop, who saved from Sami Hyppia, but on this occasion it was the Spaniard who prevailed to win another trophy for the Reds. Reina, who still had hair in those days, saved from Bobby Zamora, Paul Konchesky and Anton Ferdinand in a hat-trick of saves, to out-Dudek Dudek as the commentator said. Reina was also in goal for Liverpool’s league cup penalty win against Cardiff in 2012.

1. Mark Crossley

Crossley was known as the king of penalty saves and throughout his long career saved more penalties than any other Premiership goalkeeper. The average premiership goalkeeper saves 28% of penalties, but Crossley has saved a phenomenal 57%, saving eight of the fourteen penalties he faced whilst in the Premiership. He famously saved from Gary Lineker in the 1991 FA Cup final and is the only goalkeeper to save a Matt Le Tissier penalty, who put 53 of his 54 penalties away. In a 2002 interview Crossley said he prefers to do his homework about where the clubs usual taker likes to put their penalties, rather than use mind-games.

Will Mata