Best Italian Goalkeepers in History
Other than clean sheets, goals-conceded-to-appearance ratio is also important which actually determines how many goals a goalkeeper - in our case Italian goalkeeper - has conceded in each of his appearances.
If you thought of Gianluigi Buffon as the greatest Italian goalkeeper in history, in fact in terms of the number of clean sheets collected, we should say you’re right. He tops the list of all-time best Italian goalkeepers considering the number of clean sheets he has collected, but as already mentioned, that’s not the only factor.
In fact, if we are to list the greatest Italian goalkeepers in history based on their goals-conceded-to-appearance ratio, then another top Italian goalkeeper will top the list.
The List of Best Italian Goalkeepers in Football History
Who is that top Italian goalkeeper we just spoke of? Some even believe he’s also among the legendary Italian footballers ever. Let’s start with the top of the list, Gianluigi Buffon, and then we’ll get to him.
Also please note that the number of appearances and the number of clean sheets mentioned here are the number of appearances that a goalkeeper has made within Serie A, and the number of clean sheets that he has earned within the same league and not in other competitions.
Gianluigi Buffon (296 Clean Sheets)
Number one the list of best Italian goalkeepers in history, in fact in terms of the number of clean sheets earned, Gianluigi Buffon is also the first goalkeeper on the list who is still in the business.
He’s currently serving his old club, Juventus, whom he served once for 17 years between 2001 and 2018. As we discussed above, Buffon has collected the most number of clean sheets among the greatest Italian goalkeepers in history, and since he’s still in the business he can still improve his record too.
Buffon has actually made 652 appearances for Italian clubs, Parma and Juventus, from 1995 to this date, indeed within Serie A, and during this time has earned 296 clean sheets and has conceded 532 goals.
So by that numbers, Buffon has gained 0.45 clean sheet in every appearance he has made within Serie A which translates to almost one clean sheet (exactly 0.9) in every two appearances. And his goals-conceded-to-appearance ratio is 0.81 which means the 42-year-old Italian goalkeeper has conceded 4.05 goals in every 5 appearances that he has made.
Buffon not only tops the list of all-time best Italian goalkeepers, but also he would top the list if we were to sort it based on the number of records an Italian goalkeeper has set.
Believe it or not, Buffon is the holder of more than 60 individual records among which are most appearances in Serie A (651 appearances), Most appearances for the Italian national team (176 appearances), Longest consecutive run without conceding a goal in a single Serie A season - actually 2015-16 season where he didn’t concede a goal for a consecutive 974 minutes (almost 11 full matches), and the only goalkeeper ever to have won the UEFA Club Footballer of the Year Award (in 2003).
And again if we sort the list of greatest Italian goalkeepers in history based on the number of individual awards won, again Buffon will top the list with more than 40 individual awards including Serie A Goalkeeper of the Year (in 12 years), Best European Goalkeeper (in 3 years), and The Best FIFA Goalkeeper in 2017 just to name a few.
He was also named on the FIFA 100 list which is a list of the greatest living footballers, composed by the Brazilian legend, Pele, on the 100th anniversary of FIFA foundation.
Dino Zoff (276 Clean Sheets)
And here is the legendary Italian goalkeeper we spoke of at the start of the post: Dino Zoff, and as already mentioned, he has the best goals-conceded-to-appearance ratio on the list of best Italian goalkeepers in history.
In other words, if we were to sort the greatest Italian goalkeepers of all time based on their goals-conceded-to-appearance ratios, then Dino Zoff would surely top the list.
So what is Zoff’s goals-conceded-to-appearance ratio? 0.76 which means the legendary Italian goalkeeper conceded 0.76 goal in every appearance he made within Serie A or in other words 3.04 goals in every 4 appearances. That ratio actually comes from the 430 goals Zoff conceded in the 565 appearances that he made, and maybe to your astonishment it is the best ratio on the list.
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Ok, enough of the ratios, let’s get to the legendary goalkeeper himself. Zoff only served four Italian clubs, namely Udinese, Mantova, Napoli, and Juventus, during his career, with Juventus having the greatest share of Zoff’s years of service.
He actually served Juventus for 11 years between 1972 and 1983 which is actually 3 to 6 times longer than the other three Italian clubs he served, and during this time he made 330 appearances for the Black and Whites which is almost 3 times higher than the number of appearances he made for the other clubs he served during his career.
Although Zoff has not set as many records and has also not won as many individual trophies as Gianluigi Buffon, he’s still one of the most decorated Italian goalkeepers in history. He’s the holder of following records: Most consecutive appearances in Serie A (332), the Longest time without conceding a goal in international matches (1142 minutes), and the Oldest player to play in a FIFA World Cup edition (1982) and win it - he was 40 years, 4 months and 13 days at that time.
And his individual titles? He was named FIFA World Cup Best Goalkeeper in the same year he won it (1982), was named on FIFA 100 list, and is the winner of Golden Foot "Football Legends" Award in 2004. Zoff also served the Italian national team for 17 years between 1968 and 1983 and during this time made 112 appearances for them.
He also holds the record of average longest time not conceding a goal (118 minutes) on the list of best Italian goalkeepers in football history. The same average time for Gianluigi Buffon is 109 minutes.
Enrico Albertosi (237 Clean Sheets)
The third goalkeeper on the list of best Italian goalkeepers in history, Enrico Albertosi is a 81-year-old former Italian goalkeeper who managed to earn 237 clean sheets during his career.
Like Dino Zoff, Albertosi also served four Italian clubs, namely Fiorentina, Cagliari, AC Milan, and Elpidiense, with Fiorentina having the greatest share of Albertosi’s years of service; actually 10 years from 1958 to 1968 where the Italian goalkeeper made 185 appearances for them - again more than any other club he served.
Albertosi actually conceded 431 goals in all the 530 appearances that he made during his career. That actually gets him a goals-conceded-to-appearance ratio of 0.81 which equals that of Gianluigi Buffon and means the former Italian goalkeeper conceded 4.05 goals in every 5 appearances that he made during his career.
Concerning the average interval not conceding a goal Albertosi is in front of Buffon by just one minute - he has conceded a goal every 110 minutes averagely, but behind Zoff by 8 minutes. In fact, if we were to sort the list of all-time best Italian goalkeepers in history based on the average time not conceding a goal, again Dino Zoff would top the list.
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Unlike Dino Zoff and Gianluigi Buffon, Albertosi has not set any records and has only one individual honor: He was inducted into Fiorentina Hall of Fame in 2018, however, he has won a number of club trophies during his career some of which are two Coppa Italia trophies with Fiorentina, one Serie A title with Cagliari, and one with AC Milan. He also served the Italian national team for 13 years between 1961 and 1974 and during this time made 34 appearances for them.
Giovanni Galli (211 Clean Sheets)
The last goalkeeper on the list of best Italian goalkeepers in history to have earned more than 200 clean sheets - actually 211, Giovanni Galli is a 62-year-old former Italian goalkeeper who served six Italian clubs, namely Fiorentina, AC Milan, Napoli, Torino, Parma, and Lucchese, during his career with the first one - we mean Fiorentina - getting the highest share of Galli’s appearances (259) and years of service; actually 9 years between 1977 and 1986.
Galli actually conceded 445 goals in the 496 appearances that he made overall during his career. That gets him a goals-conceded-to-appearance ratio of 0.89 which means the retired Italian goalkeeper conceded 0.89 goal in every appearance that he made or in other words 3.5 goals in every 4 appearances.
Maybe that’s not a good ratio for a goalkeeper who stands on the fourth position on the list of greatest Italian goalkeeper in history, but don’t forget that he’s also earned 211 clean sheets and that’s what puts him on the fourth position on the list.
Galli won most of his club trophies with AC Milan with some of them being the Italian Super Cup in 1988, UEFA Super Cup in 1989, and a Serie A title in 1987-88 season. He also served the Italian national team between 1983 and 1986, made 19 appearances for them during this time.
Gianluca Pagliuca (194 Clean Sheets)
The fifth goalkeeper on the list of best Italian goalkeepers in history, Gianluca Pagliuca is a 53-year-old former Italian goalkeeper who served four Italian clubs, namely Sampdoria, Inter Milan, Bologna, and Ascoli, during 20-year career which lasted from 1987 to 2007.
Although Pagliuca served Sampdoria and Bologna both for the same number of years - actually 7 years, he made more appearances for the latter: actually 248 appearances which is also more than the other clubs he served during his career.
Pagliuca is also the first goalkeeper on the list of best Italian goalkeepers in history who conceded more than 1 goal (actually 1.1) in every appearance that he made during his career. That number actually comes from a total of 664 goals that Pagliuca conceded in the 596 appearances he made in his career.
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On average, Pagliuca conceded one goal in every 81 minutes during his career which is the second worst on the list of all-time best Italian goalkeepers. And yet he’s on the 5th position on the list? Yes, he is! Don’t forget the number of clean sheets he has collected plus that he was the first-team goalkeeper of the Italian national team in 1994 FIFA World Cup who stood like a brick wall to the relentless Brazilian national team attacks and guarded his country’s national team goal, though the Italian team lost the game in the penalty shootouts and finished runners-up in that competition.
Luciano Castellini (180 Clean Sheets)
Another retired goalkeeper on the list of best Italian goalkeepers in history, Luciano Castellini is a 74-year-old former Italian goalkeeper who managed to earn 180 clean sheets during his career.
Castellini served only three clubs during his career: His mother club, Monza, Torino, and Napoli, for the latter two he made more than twice as much appearances and almost the same - around 200.
Castellini conceded 329 goals in the 401 appearances that he made during his career which actually gets him a goals-conceded-to-appearance ratio of 0.82 meaning that the retired Italian goalkeeper conceded 4.1 goals in every 5 appearances that he made during his career.
The only top-tier trophies Castellini has won are one Serie A title with Torino in 1975-76 season and one Coppa Italia in 1970-71 season. He also made one appearance for the Italian national team in 1977 and managed Inter Milan in two of their matches in 1997 - actually after Roy Hodgson was sacked - helping the team to finish third on the Serie A league table.
Angelo Peruzzi (177 Clean Sheets)
The second goalkeeper on the list of best Italian goalkeepers in history after Giovanni Galli to have served 5 clubs during his career, Angelo Peruzzi is a 50-year-old former Italian goalkeeper whose career lasted exactly for 20 years - from 1987 and 2007 - and during this time, as mentioned, he served five clubs. These clubs are AS Roma, Hellas Verona, Juventus, Inter Milan, and Lazio.
The two clubs Peruzzi served the most during his career are Juventus and Lazio with the former having a greater share of both Peruzzi’s years of service - 8 years between 1991 and 1999 - and appearances (208) and the latter a little bit less: 7 years between 2000 and 2007 and 192 appearances.
Peruzzi made a total of 479 appearances for all the clubs he served during his career and during this time conceded 477 goals which actually gets him a goals-conceded-to-appearance ratio of 0.99 meaning that the retired Italian goalkeeper conceded almost one goal in every appearance that he made in his career.
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Peruzzi was named the Serie A Goalkeeper of the Year in three years, namely 1997, 1998 and 2007, and won most of his club trophies with Juventus including three Serie A titles in 1994-95, 1996-97 and 1997-98 seasons, one Coppa Italia in 1994-95, and one UEFA Champions League title in 1995-96 season. He was also the second goalkeeper of the Italian national team who won FIFA World Cup 2006.
Luca Marchegiani (173 Clean Sheets)
Another goalkeeper on the list of best Italian goalkeepers in history who served 5 Italian clubs during his career, Luca Marchegiani is a 54-year-old retired Italian goalkeeper with a total of 422 appearances and 406 goals conceded.
That actually gets him a goals-conceded-to-appearance ratio of 0.96 which is very near to that of his predecessor on the list, Angelo Peruzzi, and means that he also conceded almost one goal in every appearance that he made during his career.
The five clubs Marchegiani served during his career are Jesi, Brescia, Chievo, Torino, and Lazio with the last one having the greatest share of Marchegiani’s years of service and appearances: 243 appearances in 10 years between 1993 and 2003.
And this number of appearances is at least 1.5 times higher than the number of appearances Marchegiani made for other clubs and his years of service? At least two times. Despite this, the number of club trophies the retired Italian goalkeeper has won during his career are almost evenly distributed between two clubs: Lazio (6) and Torino (5).
Some of the club trophies Marchegiani won during his career are one Serie A title with Lazio in 1999-2000 season, two Coppa Italia trophies in 1997-98 and 1999-2000 with the same team, and one Serie B title with Torino in 1990-91 season.
Marchegiani was also the second goalkeeper of the Italian national team who finished runners-up in 1994 FIFA World Cup - the first goalkeeper as mentioned above was Gianluca Pagliuca.
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Lido Vieri (167 Clean Sheets)
The last but not least on the list of best Italian goalkeepers in history, Lido Vieri is a 81-year-old former Italian goalkeeper who managed to keep 167 clean sheets during his career. He’s also the only goalkeeper on the list who coached more than 5 clubs - actually 6 - after his retirement. These clubs, all being Italian clubs, are Pistoiese, Siracusa, Massese, Juve Stabia, Carrarese, and Torino.
And what about the teams Vieri served during his career as a footballer? They are Torino, Vigevano, Inter Milan, and Pistoiese, with Torino having the greatest share of Vieri’s years of service - actually 12 years between 1957 and 1969 which is at least two times longer than the time he served other clubs during his career, and his appearances (275).
Vieri made a total of 409 appearances during his career and conceded 392 goals during this time which gets him a goals-conceded-to-appearance ratio of 0.95 meaning that the retired Italian goalkeeper conceded almost one goal in every appearance that he made.
And the List of Best Italian Goalkeepers in History Does Not End Here
Surely the list of best Italian goalkeepers in football history is not limited to the goalkeepers mentioned above. The list continues as below and with goalkeepers who collected or have collected less clean sheets:
- Giuliano Sarti, Clean Sheets: 158, Goals Conceded: 340, Total Apps: 378
- Ivano Bordon, Clean Sheets: 157, Goals Conceded: 321, Total Apps: 370
- Morgan De Sanctis, Clean Sheets: 155, Goals Conceded: 451, Total Apps: 419
- Fabio Cudicini, Clean Sheets: 149, Goals Conceded: 314, Total Apps: 336
- Walter Zenga, Clean Sheets: 148, Goals Conceded: 337, Total Apps: 369
- Sebastiano Rossi, Clean Sheets: 146, Goals Conceded: 324, Total Apps: 346
- Stefano Tacconi, Clean Sheets: 141, Goals Conceded: 393, Total Apps: 388
- Christian Abbiati, Clean Sheets: 134, Goals Conceded: 313, Total Apps: 336
- Guido Masetti, Clean Sheets: 134, Goals Conceded: 355, Total Apps: 337
- Lorenzo Buffon, Clean Sheets: 134, Goals Conceded: 408, Total Apps: 376