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As a child, I was always stuck in the goal during gym soccer because of my lack of athleticism, horrific stamina, and inability to kick a soccer ball. But hey, I could manage to get some lucky saves once in a blue moon. How skillful of me.
However, when it actually comes to professional soccer, it's a far different game. Being a goalkeeper is, realistically, one of the more difficult positions to fully master. I've come to appreciate the art form of protecting the goal—whether it be in soccer, hockey, lacrosse, or even just a casual game of handball. Although, I must admit, watching soccer goalies cover so much ground in those larger goalposts is a little more impressive than the other sports. It just requires a special type of athlete to do what they do on a professional level.
That's why I decided to compile a list of the best goalkeeper saves of all time. It certainly wasn't easy—considering how impressive ALL saves are—but there are certainly some that are more iconic than others. Let's check some of them out.
David Seaman's "Claw"
While David Seaman's name makes me laugh every time without failure, that doesn't take away from the fact that he was a phenomenal goalie in his playing days. While he had tons of notable saves in his heyday, there were none, arguably, more iconic than the one he made in the FA Cup semifinal between Arsenal and Sheffield United back in 2003. The save was later dubbed "the claw." A one-hander after a head butt from point blank range? That's an incredible display of hand-eye coordination and athleticism if you ask me.
Grégory Coupet's Head Butt
So what's even better than a one-handed save from a head butt?
Literally head butting the ball instead. And that's exactly what Grégory Coupet did in this crazy save back in 2001. What's really crazy about this save isn't even the fact that he used his head—it's that he made two back to back stops.
After pinning the ball on the cross bar to prevent a goal, Coupet went one-on-one with Barcelona legend Rivaldo from what was essentially point-blank range.
You're welcome for the two-for-one special.
Peter Schmeichel's Wonder
Peter Schmeichel's legendary save against Rapid Vienna back in 1996 is certainly one for the books. The former Manchester United goal keeper really got down and dirty for this one, with a one-handed save aimed at the bottom righthand side of the goal. Schmeichel's decorated career also includes one of the best goalkeeper goals of all time, and if that's not impressive, I don't know what is.
Gordon Banks Against Pelé
A generation before Schmeichel's save, we had Gordon Banks, which set the precedent for the Manchester United legend. This is regarded by many as the greatest save in the history of soccer. While England did go on to lose 1-0 to Brazil in the quarterfinals, Banks' save was iconic. Not only because of the degree of difficulty behind it, but because it was against a legend like Pelé. Far from an easy feat, to say the least.
Petr Cech's Fingertip Save
Back in 2004, Peter Cech made an iconic save that would later be dubbed by many as his "fingertip save."
What made the save so impressive, other than the fact that it was literally done across his body and with his fingertips, is that it proved to be a major turning point in the game. At the time, Czech Republic was down to the Netherlands 2-1, before coming back to win 3-2. This served as a game-changing play that would ultimately be remembered forever.
Iker Casillas Across the Penalty Box
In another losing effort, we got to see another one of the greatest saves to ever grace the soccer field—Iker Casillas and his infamous stop against Diego Perotti. Castillas runs across the entire penalty box to make one of the most athletic stops in international soccer history. However, Sevilla still takes the W over Real Madrid by a score of 2-1. If there's any consolation, however, it's this stop.
Jim Montgomery's Double Save
I know I talked about a double save a bit earlier in this piece, but this one really takes the cake. Jim Montgomery manages to make not one, but TWO, saves from point blank range, in one of the most impressive sequences we've seen from a goalkeeper ever. Just looking at the shocked faces of the players on the opposing club says it all.
Gianluigi Buffon's World Cup Save
Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon isn't necessarily a household name for casual sports fans, but for those who are highly invested in the sport on a global scale, his incredible save against French legend Zinedine Zidane should certainly ring a bell. During this World Cup Final, it looked like Italy was in for an upset loss, until Buffon pushed the go ahead shot over the crossbars in scintillating fashion. Italy would go on to beat France 5-3 on penalty scores, for one of the best World Cup finals we've ever seen. It's no surprise he's considered one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time...
Rene Higuita's Scorpion Kick
There's just something about the term "scorpion kick" that has a nice ring to it, but there's something even more special about it when you actually what it on film. Rene Higuita seemingly does the impossible, with a backflip kick save on a long attempt. Not sure why he didn't use his hands here, but I think it's safe to say, for highlight reel purposes, we're all glad that he didn't. I would venture to guess that Higuita used some of the best soccer drills in his training to prepare for this moment...
Sherif Ekramy's Free Kick Save
Arguably, there is no tougher job for a goalie than saving a free kick. That's what makes Sherif Ekramy's save so legendary. What started out as a seemingly perfect free kick, eventually turned into one of the best goalkeeper saves of all time from Ekramy. The ball looked like it was going to squeeze into the top right corner, until the athletic goalie made an incredible leaping play to save it. For a second, it looked like Michael "Air" Jordan was in the goal with those kind of hops.