Best English Goalkeepers of All time

Thursday28 January 2021 | 20:00
Copy Link

In this article of SportMob, from Gordon Banks to Joe Hart, we will take a look at some of the best English goalkeepers of all time.

There are two obvious things that come to mind when you think about English football. On one hand, the footballers from the island always have a particularly hard time scoring from the penalty spot. On the other hand, English goalkeepers often amuse the football world with their strange mistakes and slip-ups.

From Gordon Banks to Peter Shilton and David Seaman, we have often seen some bad mistakes from them. As is often the case in this position, one mistake is remembered longer than ten saves. But despite all these mistakes, English football has produced some great goalkeepers from day one up to now, and some of them proved to be great assets for their club and also for the English national team.

Best English goalkeepers in football history

Stay tuned in this article of SportMob as we are going to introduce the greatest English goalkeepers ever. We should note that the names in this list of best English goalkeepers of all time came in no particular order.

Now if you’re ready, let's get down to reveal the famous English goalkeepers of all time.

Joe Hart

In the Round of 16 of the 2015

Champions League


FC Barcelona

won both matches (2-1 and 1-0) against

Manchester City

. However, this double defeat was remembered especially for the two impressive performances of the Man City goalkeeper. One of the world's best goalkeepers in recent years according to Gianluigi Buffon, Hart has been named best goalkeeper in the

Premier League

on four occasions.

As one of the greatest English goalkeepers of all time, he was once the main goalkeeper for the England national team, but since getting out of his nation’s squad for 2018 FIFA World Cup in


, he has never been called up to


national team again. He has won 75 caps for Three Lions.

Since then, he has been on a decline. After being loaned to

West Ham

for a season, he signed for Burnley FC in 2018, however, he played only 19 league games in two seasons. As one of the

best English goalkeepers of all time

moved on a free transfer to Tottenham in 2020 and he’s yet waiting to make his debut for the club.

David James

Before Petr Cech surpassed him in 2015, David James held the record for the number of clean sheets in the Premier League (169). He was the yo-yo in the hierarchy of English goalkeepers. He was number 3 in the 2006 World Cup and number 2 in the 2002 World Cup. In between, he was the first-choice goalkeeper at the Euro 2004 in Portugal, his performances were not really convincing, and even he made a huge mistake against Austria. A mistake that contributed in part to his nickname of "Calamity James"

As one of the

best English goalkeepers of all time

, he was a goalkeeper capable of the worst as well as the best in the national team and also in the club. James was also named the best goalkeeper of the year in England at the end of the 2007/08 season with



One of the greatest English goalkeepers ever, he currently is working as a commentator for British television channel BT Sport. With 1,023 matches played, James is one of the few players with at least 1,000 career appearances.

Chris Woods

As one of the

best English goalkeepers of all time

, he is unquestionably a Glasgow Rangers Hall of Fame member, having played in Scotland for five seasons (from 1986 to 1991), winning four League Cups (1987, 1988, 1989, 1991) and especially four Scottish league titles (1987, 1989, 1990, 1991) during the time when


Glasgow did not have a monopoly on Scottish football. He only made his first appearance for England (43 caps in total) when he was 31 years old, and played in a

World Cup

semi-final, the one in 1990.

Chris Woods became Everton FC's goalkeeping coach on 1 July 1998, when the club was coached by his former Rangers coach Walter Smith. He subsequently retained this role under new coach David Moyes. Since 2011, he has also coached the US national football team as goalkeeper coach. This was due to the fact that the national goalkeeper Tim Howard played for

Everton FC

and was already coached by Woods.

He has also worked for

Manchester United

as a first-team goalkeeping coach between 2013 and 2014 when David Moyes was in charge of Red Devils. As one of the famous English goalkeepers of all time, he will always be remembered for his great performances as a goalie.

Ron Springett

One of the players in our list of best English goalkeepers of all time, Ron Springett started his playing career with

Queens Park Rangers

. He was subsequently sold to Sheffield Wednesday for £10,000. Played 384 games for them before returning to Queens Park Rangers. He played his final match for Sheffield Wednesday on 25 September 1967 against Sheffield United at Hillsborough Stadium.

Springett made his national team debut in 1959 against Northern Ireland. He was the main goalkeeper at the World Cup in Chile, reaching the quarter-finals with the team. He played for the last time in 1966 against the Norwegian national team. Ron was also listed in the 1966 World Cup squad but did not play a single match at the tournament.

Exclusive SPORTMOB video

He died on September 12, 2015, and will always be remembered as one of the

greatest English goalkeepers of all time


Peter Bonetti


Chelsea FC

legend, Peter Bonetti is truly one of the best English goalkeepers of all time. Chelsea signed Bonetti from Reading FC's youth team. Between 1959 and 1979 he played in a total of 729 games, which was a record at the time. In addition, he went 21 games without conceding a goal during a season and only conceded a maximum of one goal in two-third of his matches for Chelsea.

Towards the end of his career, Bonetti spent a season in the North American professional league NASL, where he played in goal for the St. Louis Stars. He earned greater recognition in his last international match when, as a substitute for Gordon Banks in the 1970 World Cup quarter-finals in Mexico, he conceded three goals against Germany after leading 2-0 to end in a 3-2 defeat. That match was Bonetti's only World Cup appearance. He conceded only one goal in his other six caps for England.

Bert Williams

The next player in our list of best English goalkeepers of all time is Bert Williams. As a legendary


player, he first started his career in Walsall. His career at Walsall was affected by World War II and he was forced to join Royal Air Force.

After the war, Williams originally wanted to join Chelsea FC, but Wolverhampton Wanderers offered £3,500 for him and Williams decided against the London club. He played 420 games for Wolves, including 381 league games. He also celebrated winning the FA Cup in 1949 and managed to win the Championship in 1954.

On 22 May 1949 Williams received his first invitation to an official international match and England beat France 3-1. In 1950 he took part in the World Cup, but England was eliminated in the group stage. After another defeat against the later group winners Spain, they were eliminated as group runners-up. On 22 October 1955, after 24 international matches, he bid farewell to the national team with a 2-1 defeat to Wales. He will go down in history as one of the best English goalkeepers in football history.

Frank Swift

As one of the

best English goalkeepers of all time

, Frank Swift was a key goalkeeper for Manchester City for many years around the Second World War and also for the England national team in the 1940s. In 1947, he became the first goalkeeper in 75 years to captain the England side. After accompanying the Manchester United team as a journalist, Swift died in the crash of British European Airways Flight 609.

Swift is considered one of the greatest English goalkeepers ever and was voted one of the best 100 players in the league's first 100 years by the English Football League Association.

Swift was a very tall goalkeeper for his time with exceptionally large hands that allowed him to catch balls one-handed without difficulty. He was also the first goalkeeper in the English league to initiate attacks not only by taking wide kicks but also by rolling and throwing them to teammates.

Ray Clemence

For many, he is the legendary goalkeeper of the Liverpool Reds, who played on the shores of the Mersey from 1967 to 1981. As one of the best English goalkeepers of all time, he played no less than 665 matches for Liverpool, almost half of which were clean sheets. Triple winner of the Champions League (1977, 1978, 1981), he was also five times English champion and won three UEFA Cups (1973, 1976, 1984), the last one with Tottenham, where he ended his career. Unfortunately for the keeper, the English national team was in crisis when he played for the Three Lions (61 caps) between 1972 and 1984.

In October 1987, Clemence retired as a professional footballer and became a member of the

Tottenham Hotspur

coaching staff. Gradually he worked his way into the first team and then became coach of Barnet FC in January 1994 - working with Gary Phillips until August - followed by a spell on his own. He was hired as England national goalkeeping coach in 1996 by his former Tottenham and national team teammate Glenn Hoddle.

Exclusive SPORTMOB video

That role continued under Hoddle's replacement, Kevin Keegan, and later Sven-Göran Eriksson, and included spells as a radio and television commentator. He ended his spell with England in December after Fabio Capello took charge, who replaced him with Franco Tancredi. From 2012, he made a comeback with Roy Hodgson, and finally retired at the end of October 2013. He will always be remembered as one of the

famous English goalkeepers of all time


David Seaman

The next player in our list of best English goalkeepers of all time is David Seaman. Having played 75 times for the English national team, Seaman only reached the semi-finals of Euro 1996 and the quarter-finals of the 2002 World Cup with them. Nicknamed "Spunky", he won several titles with


. He played there for thirteen years, winning every possible trophy (3 Premier League, 4 FA Cup, 4 Community Shield, 1 League Cup and also 1 Cup Winners' Cup).

Before that, he started with Peterborough before joining Birmingham and Queens Park Rangers. A goalkeeper with an atypical style, he was known to play very high up on the pitch, which was hardly the case in the 1990s. He will always be remembered as one of the greatest English goalkeepers of all time.

After playing 13 years at Arsenal and becoming one of the club legends and also one of the

best Premier League goalkeepers ever

, David Seaman moved to the rivals Man United in 2003. Things did not go to plan in Manchester and after suffering a serious shoulder injury in the 4-2 defeat at Portsmouth FC, the now 40-year-old Seaman announced his retirement. In the national team, he had played his 75th and final international match in October 2002. In his final appearance, against Macedonia (2-2), he suffered another odd goal when he was hit by a precise, direct corner kick to make it 0-1 at the half-time.

Peter Shilton

Peter Shilton is considered by many as one of the best English goalkeepers of all time. With a record 125 caps (a record for the English players), and more than 1,000 matches played at club level, Peter Shilton had had a busy career between 1965 and 1997. Shilton proudly has put these figures in his Twitter account's biography. As a youngster in Leicester, he was spotted by a certain... Gordon Banks. During his playing days, however, he also enjoyed a successful spell at Nottingham Forest, where he won two European Cups (1979 and 1980) and an English league title (1978). As a painful memory, he is also the goalkeeper who conceded the Maradona's "Hand of God" goal at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico.

Shilton played as England's goalkeeper in five international tournaments: the 1980 European Championship, the 1982 World Cup, the 1986 World Cup, the 1988 European Championship and the 1990 World Cup. He is the English record holder with 17 World Cup matches. Shilton did not win any international titles with the England national team during his career.

As one of the

best English goalkeepers in football history

, Shilton's greatest achievement was reaching the semi-finals of the 1990 World Cup, where he conceded a free-kick goal from Germany's Andreas Brehme. In the penalty shoot-out that followed, he was unable to save a single penalty of German players; England missed out on the final. At 40, Shilton was the oldest player in the tournament. He was the first goalkeeper to play ten World Cup matches without conceding a goal - a record that was only beaten by Fabien Barthez in 2006.

Gordon Banks

One of the

best goalkeepers in football history

and one of the best English goalkeepers of all time is Gordon Banks. Goalkeeper for the English team between 1963 and 1972, he had a tragic destiny. His relationship with football came to an abrupt end in the autumn of 1972, a little more than two years after his famous "stop of the century" on a Pele head during the 1970 World Cup. A motorbike accident that would lead him to lose his right eye, and which would mean the end of his career.

He was part of the winning team of the 1966 World Cup, alongside Bobby Moore, among others. He played a total of 73 matches for Three Lions as a goalkeeper. In a poll conducted by the British television network Channel 4, Banks was named the best English goalkeeper of all time. In 2002, he was inducted into the newly established English Football Hall of Fame.

After retiring from football due to his eye problem, Banks worked as a scout and was actively involved in the football media. In October 1977 he made a brief comeback with Irish club St Patrick's Athletic in the League of Ireland but played only one game, the 1-0 home win on 2 October at Richmond Park against Shamrock Rovers, in which he did not concede a goal.

Banks then moved to the North American professional league NASL, where he was touted as a superstar and played for the Fort Lauderdale Strikers in 1977 and 1978, teaming up with his old nemesis George Best. In 1980 he briefly coached amateur club Telford United.


Read More: 



 for the 

latest football news

source: SportMob