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Goalkeeper (football)

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Title: Goalkeeper (football)  
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Subject: Association football, Oman, Penalty area, Peter Bonetti, Zwickau, Lev Yashin, Sociedade Esportiva Palmeiras, Barry Town F.C., Roque Máspoli, Dover Athletic F.C.
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Goalkeeper (football)

Goalkeeper, often shortened to keeper or goalie, is one of the major positions of football. It is the oldest, most specialised, and generally the most important position in the sport. The goalkeeper's primary role is to prevent the opposing team from successfully moving the ball over the defended goal-line (between the posts and under the crossbar). This is accomplished by the goalkeeper moving into the path of the ball and either catching it or directing it away from the vicinity of the goal line. Within the 18 yard box goalkeepers are able to use their hands, making them (outside of throw-ins) the only players on the field able to handle the ball. Goalkeepers perform goal kicks, and also give commands to their defence during corner kicks, direct and indirect free kicks, and marking. Goalkeepers play an important role in directing on field strategy as they have an unrestricted view of the entire pitch giving them a unique perspective on play development.

Goalkeepers are required to remain on the pitch at all times though that does not mean they have to be between the sticks all the time. For example goalkeepers may have to take a penalty kick during a penalty shoot-out or even go for a corner late in the game though it is rare, as it leaves the goal unguarded. If a goalkeeper is hurt or sent off the back-up goalkeeper must take his place, if there isn't a backup, then an outfielder must do so. In the event of a sending off an outfielder too must leave and the other keeper "replaces" him. If both keepers are hurt or sent off and there is no third choice keeper especially at club level, an outfielder (usually a defender) has to take his place and wear the goalkeeper kit. Because goalkeeper is the most important job in football as well as being the most difficult position to master, most teams have the same keeper play in the starting XI every season. For example Petr Cech is currently no.1 at Chelsea F.C. while Iker Casillas has been Real Madrid's no.1 for more than 9 years, and the starting goalkeeper for Spain for over a decade. As a result it could be a long time before the back-up keeper has a chance to play. This is one of the main reasons why most goalkeeper on average retire in their forties. The main squad number for a goalkeeper is no.1 but today though this is still common some goalkeepers now wear other squad numbers when in goal. For example: Despite being no.1 at Liverpool F.C.. Pepe Reina has worn the no.25 jersey through all his Liverpool career. No.13, especially in Britain, is the common number for the second choice keeper, though others like 12, 16 (a number attributed to hockey), 24, 25, even 30 (a number attributed to ice hockey) are also common.


Football, like many sports, has experienced many changes in tactics resulting in the generation and elimination of different positions. Goalkeeper is the only position that is certain to have existed since the codification of the sport. Even in the early days of organised football, when systems were limited or non-existent and the main idea was for all players to attack and defend, teams had a designated member to play as the goalkeeper.

The earliest account of football teams with player positions comes from Richard Mulcaster in 1581; however, he does not specify goalkeepers. The earliest specific reference to keeping goal comes from Cornish Hurling in 1602. According to Carew: "they pitch two bushes in the ground, some eight or ten foot asunder; and directly against them, ten or twelve score off, other twayne in like distance, which they term their Goals. One of these is appointed by lots, to the one side, and the other to his adverse party. There is assigned for their guard, a couple of their best stopping Hurlers".[1] Other references to scoring goals begin in English literature in the early 16th century; for example, in John Day's play The Blind Beggar of Bethnal Green (performed circa 1600; published 1659): "I'll play a gole at camp-ball" (an extremely violent variety of football, popular in East Anglia). Similarly, in a 1613 poem, Michael Drayton refers to "when the Ball to throw, And drive it to the Gole, in squadrons forth they goe". It seems inevitable that wherever a game has evolved goals, some form of goalkeeping must also be developed. David Wedderburn refers to what has been translated from Latin as to "keep goal" in 1633, though this does not necessarily imply a fixed goalkeeper position.

Initially, goalkeepers typically played between the goalposts and had limited mobility, except when trying to save opposition shots. Throughout the years, goalkeeping has evolved, due to the changes in systems of play, to be a more active role. Goalkeeper is the only position in which you can use your hands in the game of football(other than during throw-ins). The original Laws of the Game permitted goalkeepers to handle the ball anywhere in their half of the pitch. This was revised in 1912, restricting use of the hands by the goalkeeper to the penalty area.

In 1992, the International Football Association Board made changes in the laws of the game that affected goalkeepers – notably the back-pass rule,[2] which prohibits goalkeepers from handling the ball when receiving a deliberate pass from a team-mate that is made with their feet (the pass can be made with all the others parts of the body except hands). As a result, all goalkeepers were required to improve controlling the ball with their feet.

General play and technique

The goalkeeper position is the most specialised of all positions on the field. Unlike other players, goalkeepers may touch the ball with any part of their body while in their own penalty area. Outside of their penalty area, goalkeepers have the same restrictions as other field players. They are also "protected" from active interference by opponents within their own goal area.

Perhaps the most spectacular move a goalkeeper routinely performs is the extension dive. To execute this manoeuver properly, they push off the ground with the foot nearest to the ball, launching themself into a horizontal position. At this point, the ball may be caught or simply pushed away. In the latter case, a good goalkeeper will attempt to ensure that the rebound cannot be taken by a player on the opposite team, although this is not always possible.


The tactical responsibilities of goalkeepers include:

  • To keep goal by physically blocking attempted shots with any part of their body. The keeper is permitted to play the ball anywhere on the field, but he may not handle the ball using his hands outside the penalty area.
  • To organise the team's defenders during defensive set pieces such as free kicks and corners. In the case of free kicks, this includes picking the numbers and the organisation of a defensive man "wall". The wall serves to provide a physical barrier to the incoming ball, but some goalkeepers position their wall in a certain position to tempt the kick-taker to a certain type of shot. Occasionally, goalkeepers may opt to dispense with the wall. Some goalkeepers are also entrusted with the responsibility of picking markers while defending at set pieces.
  • To pick out crosses and attempted long passes either by punching them clear or collecting them in flight.

Although goalkeepers have special privileges, including the ability to handle the ball in the penalty area, they are otherwise subject to the same rules as any other player. Due to the increasing importance of crosses and set-pieces that put the ball in the air, the goalkeeper is often the tallest member of the team, and most stand over 6 ft (180 cm) tall in professional competition, with many well-known keepers standing particularly tall at over 6 ft 4 in (193 cm).

Goalkeepers in playmaking and attack

Goalkeepers are not required to stay in the penalty area; they may get involved in play anywhere on the pitch, and it is common for them to act as an additional defender during certain passages of the game. Brazil's Rogerio Ceni, Colombia's René Higuita, France's Fabien Barthez, Germany's Hans-Jörg Butt, Hungary's Gyula Grosics, Mexico's Jorge Campos, Netherlands' Jan Jongbloed, Paraguay's José Luis Chilavert and Zimbabwe's Bruce Grobbelaar were notable for their foot skills and their regular play outside the penalty area. Goalkeepers with a long throwing range or accurate long-distance kicks may be able to quickly create attacking positions for a team and generate goal-scoring chances from defensive situations, a tactic known as the long ball.

Some goalkeepers have even scored goals. This most commonly occurs where a goalkeeper has rushed up to the opposite end of the pitch to give his team a numerical advantage in attack. This rush is risky, as it leaves the goalkeeper's goal undefended. As such, it is normally only done late in a game at set-pieces where the consequences of scoring far outweigh those of conceding a further goal, such as for a team trailing in a knock-out tournament. As goalkeepers are usually tall, often taller than all the outfield players, they can be successful at connecting with headers.

Though this action rarely succeeds, it is regular enough to have occurred a number of times in professional football: goalscoring goalkeepers include Dimitar Ivankov, Peter Schmeichel, Mart Poom, Steve Ogrizovic, Marco Amelia, Andrés Palop, Jens Lehmann, Edwin Van Der Sar, Brad Friedel, Massimo Taibi, Jimmy Glass, Adam Federici, Paul Robinson, Michelangelo Rampulla, Michael Petkovic, Fabien Barthez, Federico Vilar, Daniel Aranzubia, Tim Howard, Chris Weale, Gavin Ward and Mark Crossley.

Some goalkeepers, such as Rogério Ceni and José Luis Chilavert, may also be expert set-piece takers. These players may take their team's attacking free kicks and even penalties. Ceni, São Paulo's long-time custodian, has scored 100 goals in his career, more than many outfield players.

In some even rarer situations, goalkeepers have even scored goals unintentionally, when a ball kicked downfield has caught the opposing goalkeeper out of position. Jung Sung-Ryong, Paul Robinson, Danny Cepero, Jason Matthews, Jérôme Palatsi, Andrew Lonergan, Dragan Pantelić, Neco Martínez, Michael Petkovic, Tim Howard, Pat Jennings, Mohd Syamsuri Mustafa and Ian Deakin currently of Mansfield Town FC are examples of goalkeepers who have scored under such circumstances. One notable example came in the final of the 2003 CAF Champions League, in which Al-Ahly goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary created a goal by driving an indirect free kick from near his penalty area into the post of opponent's goal; the ball then hit the back of the opposing goalkeeper and went into the net.

Equipment and attire

Goalkeepers must wear kit that distinguishes them clearly from other players and match officials, as this is all that the FIFA Laws of the Game require. Some goalkeepers have received recognition for their match attire, like Lev Yashin of the Soviet Union, who was nicknamed the "Black Spider" for his distinctive all-black outfit; Klaus Lindenberger of Austria, who designed his own variation of a clown's costume; and Jorge Campos of Mexico, who was popular for his colourful attire.

Most goalkeepers also wear gloves to improve their grip on the ball, and to protect themselves from injury. Some gloves now include rigid plastic spines down each finger to help prevent injuries such as jammed and sprained fingers. Though gloves are not mandatory attire, it is uncommon for goalkeepers to opt against them due to the advantages they offer. At UEFA Euro 2004, Portuguese goalkeeper Ricardo famously took off his gloves for the quarter-final penalty shoot-out against England.

When assigning numbers to players on the team, if a squad number system is not in use, the number 1 shirt is usually reserved for the goalkeeper. However, until recently, goalkeepers were not required to wear the number 1, as is now a regulation for the FIFA World Cup. For example, Argentine Ubaldo Fillol wore the numbers 5 and 7 at the 1978 and 1982 FIFA World Cups, respectively. This often happens when a team has already assigned the shirt number to a goalkeeper, but brings in a new player who subsequently becomes the starter. Even in these cases, the player is usually referred to as the team's "number one". First-team goalkeepers in La Liga are required to take the numbers one, thirteen or twenty-five. Sixteen is often a popular number for goalkeepers in France and its former African colonies.

Czech Republic and Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Čech wears a head guard, after having fractured his skull in a Premier League match against Reading, and a few goalkeepers, most notably Miguel Calero and Chris Kirkland, wear baseball caps to shield their eyes from the sun. Calero has also worn a bandana while keeping goal for Pachuca.


Goalkeepers are crucial in penalty shoot-outs. The record for most penalties saved in a shoot-out is held by Helmuth Duckadam of Steaua București. Duckadam defended four consecutive penalties in the 1986 European Cup Final against Barcelona. Stefano Tacconi is the only goalkeeper to have won all official Club Competitions.

The quickest goal scored by a goalkeeper is Nottingham Forest's Paul Smith after 22 seconds, on 18 September 2007, when Leicester City agreed to give Forest a free goal in the Football League Cup second round after the original tie was abandoned when City's Clive Clarke collapsed at half-time when Forest were up 1–0. Forest ended up losing the game 3–2. On Sunday 02/11/13 Begovic scored after 13 seconds in Stoke's 1-1 draw with Southampton overtaking Paul Smiths 22 seconds.

A few goalkeepers have become notable at taking set pieces; for example, José Luis Chilavert is the only goalkeeper to score a hat-trick (three goals in a game), doing so through penalty kicks. He also was a free kick expert. Rogério Ceni has scored the highest number of goals for a goalkeeper, having scored his 100th goal in official games on 27 March 2011. Ceni scored his goals through free kicks and penalty kicks.[3]

At International Level, Dino Zoff is the goalkeeper who has remained unbeaten for the longest period of time,[4] whilst Walter Zenga is the goalkeeper who holds the record for the longest unbeaten run in a FIFA World Cup tournament.[5] Gianluigi Buffon, Fabien Barthez and Iker Casillas hold the record for least goals conceded by a winning goalkeeper in a World Cup tournament, only conceding two goals and leading their team to victory, as they were also awarded the Yashin Award for best keeper. Gianluigi Buffon is also the only World Cup winning goalkeeper to not have conceded a goal in open play throughout the whole tournament (one goal coming from an own goal after a free-kick, and the second from a penalty). Fabien Barthez and Peter Shilton hold the record for most clean sheets in World Cup matches, with 10 clean sheets each.[6] Oliver Kahn is the only goalkeeper to have won the Adidas Golden Ball for the best player of the tournament in a World Cup, whilst Lev Yashin is the only goalkeeper to have won the Ballon d'Or. Iker Casillas holds both the record for fewest goals conceded in a European Championship (1) and the record for longest unbeaten run at a European Championship, beating the previous record held by Dino Zoff. He also holds the records for most international clean sheets (74) beating the previous record held by Edwin Van der Sar (72). Pascal Zuberbühler hold the record for least goals conceded by a goalkeeper in a World Cup tournament and holds the record for most successive matches at an international tournament without conceding (five games), he did not concede a goal in exactly 463 minutes of World Cup games against hard shots from France, South Korea, and Togo as his team lost in the last 16 on penalties against Ukraine. Pascal Zuberbühler made Switzerland the only team in the history of the tournament not to concede a goal in normal time.

Gianluca Pagliuca of Italy became the first goalkeeper to be sent off in a World Cup Finals match, dismissed for apparently handling outside his area against Norway. He also became the first goalkeeper to save a penalty in a penalty-shootout in a World Cup Final in the same tournament.

Highest fees

The most expensive goalkeeper of all time is currently Gianluigi Buffon (following his 2001 54.29 million transfer to Juventus from Parma).[7]

Rank Player From To Transfer fee
Transfer fee
1 Italy Gianluigi Buffon[8][9] Italy Parma Italy Juventus £33m €54.2m 2001
2 Germany Manuel Neuer[10] Germany Schalke 04 Germany Bayern Munich £19m €24m 2011
3 Spain David De Gea[11] Spain Atlético Madrid England Manchester United £18m €22m 2011
4 Italy Angelo Peruzzi[9][12] Italy Internazionale Italy Lazio £15.7m €17.8m 2000
5 Uruguay Fernando Muslera[13][14] Italy Lazio Turkey Galatasaray £9.93m €11.75m 2011
6 Slovenia Samir Handanovič[15] Italy Udinese Italy Internazionale £9m €11.00m 2012
7 Belgium Simon Mignolet[16] England Sunderland England Liverpool £9m €10.5m 2013
8 Scotland Craig Gordon[17] Scotland Hearts England Sunderland £9m €10.2m 2007
9 Belgium Thibaut Courtois Belgium Racing Genk England Chelsea £7.8m €8.8m 2011
9 France Hugo Lloris[18] France Lyon England Tottenham £7.8m €8.8m 2012
9 France Fabien Barthez France AS Monaco England Manchester United £7.8m €8.8m 2000

|- |1 |Italy Gianluigi Buffon[19][9] |Italy Parma |Italy Juventus |£33m |€54.2m |2001 |-

See also



de:Torwart#Torwarte im Fußball

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