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Best Real Madrid goalkeepers of all time

Mon 19 April 2021 | 12:00

From Keylor Navas to Ricardo Zamora, here we will take a look at some of the best Real Madrid goalkeepers of all time.

The goalkeeper has the most difficult position in a football team. When a goalkeeper saves or blocks a ball, he is generally considered to be fulfilling his role, but if he concedes a goal, there is usually a feeling that he could have done more to prevent it.

The role of the goalkeeper is defined by his ability to intercept the ball while protecting his goal and the outcome is influenced by the goalkeeper's skill, technique, speed and movement when covering the goal. Positioning during the match involves offensive actions such as kicking and passing and defensive actions.

The defensive actions are much more specific as they are initiated by a previous phase where aspects related to decision making are considered. So it is safe to say that in football, the goalkeeper has the most difficult position.

Goalkeepers have always been the forgotten ones in football. Particularly when teams win because on more than one occasion a bad goal has marked them for life. The loneliness of the goalkeeper has also been mentioned many times, while the rest of the team moves all over the pitch. Furthermore, at some clubs, it is a great responsibility to keep the goal, as is the case at

Real Madrid

, as one of the greatest clubs in the history of football.

Greatest Real Madrid goalkeepers of all time

Who is Real Madrid's best goalkeeper in history? This is a big question and one that is not easy to answer as it is very subjective to make even an extensive list. However, we would like to share with you ten of the best goalkeepers in Real Madrid club history, leaving you free to choose your own ranking. Stay tuned for the best Real Madrid goalkeepers of all time!

Keylor Navas

Keylor Navas is the only goalkeeper in the history of football to win three UEFA

Champions League

titles in a row, and it says it all about him. His arrival in the 2014-2015 season from Levante was hardly a big deal. Although he knew his role was as a second-choice goalkeeper, his approach never changed: he was working hard to get the job done and become the main goalkeeper at Santiago Bernabeu.

When Casillas left for

Porto

, he was the first-choice goalkeeper and he performed at an extraordinary level. Accepting all the criticism, he worked hard and never gave up on his goal to become better and better each and every day.

For a long time, he had the sword of Damocles hanging over his head regarding a replacement with a higher media profile than him. However, he wrote his history in gold letters in the 5 seasons he spent in Real Madrid, where he lifted 12 titles, among them 3 Champions League titles in a row; no other goalkeeper has ever done anything like that.

He was on a plane about to leave for Manchester but a fax cancelled everything and he joined Real Madrid, to make history there. In the end, his departure was something that neither the fans nor the dressing room wanted; Keylor earned the love and respect of all the Madridistas in a short period of time...it is not easy. During his stay at Real Madrid between 2014 and 2019, Keylor Navas played a total of 162 matches in all competitions, making 52 clean sheets and conceding 159 goals in total.

Bodo Illgner

Bodo Illgner is the only German keeper in our list of greatest goalkeepers in Real Madrid history. His career seemed to have stalled at

FC Koeln

, a club with no title ambitions for the next few years, at which point he received an offer from Real Madrid, then coached by Fabio Capello, to play in

Spain

, where he would play from 1996 to 2001, leading them to two Champions League titles in 1998 and 2000, playing in the final against Juventus and Valencia C.F., respectively.

In addition, he also won two league titles with Real Madrid in 1997 and 2001 and an Intercontinental Cup in 1998. Thus completing an enviable list of honours. During his first season in Spain, Capello trusted him with every game since his arrival, leaving on the bench the legendary Paco Buyo, who retired that same year and who he admired, and Cañizares. Madrid would win the league that year and Bodo was considered the best goalkeeper of the league.

Illgner missed the first few games of the following season through injury, but he later succeeded in taking the place of Santiago Cañizares, including in the knockout stages of the Champions League. Los Blancos won the coveted seventh European Cup on 20 May 1998 in the final against Juventus.

A series of injuries and the emergence of Iker Casillas took him out of the starting line-up in the 99-00 season. At the end of the 2000-2001 season, he decided to put an end to his sporting career. During his time at Spain capital, he played a total of 119 matches for Real Madrid and had 34 clean sheets. Who do you think is the next player in the list of best Real Madrid goalkeepers of all time?

Jose Vicente Train

The first Spanish player who has a place in Real Madrid goalkeepers history is Jose Vicente Train. He joined Real Madrid in the 1960-1961 season and went on to win his first Spanish league title. Train's first year at Real was his most successful, winning the 1960 Intercontinental Cup after beating CA Peñarol and winning the Zamora Trophy. In 1961-1962, Real won the league and the Spanish Cup against

Sevilla

2-1, but he only played 3 games during this season, which was the first reason why he was not selected for the 1962 World Cup.

Train came back in the 1962-1963 season playing 28 games, 5 internationals and won his third Spanish league title and his second Zamora Trophy. He left Real Madrid after one last league title (Spanish Football Championship 1963-1964) and one last Zamora Trophy, which confirmed him as one of the greatest Real Madrid goalkeepers of all time.

During his spell at Real Madrid, Jose Vicente Train played a total of 86 matches in all competitions for them, making 34 clean sheets and conceding 78 goals. Stay tuned for more of the best Real Madrid goalkeepers of all time.

Antonio Betancort

Antonio Betancort is the second Spanish to appear in our list of best goalkeepers in Real Madrid club history. After starting his football career at Las Palmas, He joined Real Madrid in 1961. His greatest achievements in his career were with the Madrid team. His first season with Real Madrid was spent almost without playing official matches because Real Madrid had great international goalkeepers such as the Argentine Rogelio Domínguez and José Vicente Train who blocked his way. That is why he was loaned to Deportivo de La Coruña and waited for his chance in the then five-time European and Intercontinental champions.

In the 63-64 season, he returned to Real Madrid, playing just one league game. The next season he made the leap to defend the Madrid goal, replacing the Basque international goalkeeper Araquistain in the starting line-up. That season he appeared in 24 league games, 4 cup games and 5 European Cup matches, a competition in which he made his debut on 23 September 1964 against the Danish team Odense BK.

In addition to his outstanding characteristics under the goal, he was also a very reliable keeper with great reflexes, qualities that his coach at the time, Miguel Muñoz, valued in order to keep him as a starter in the following seasons. During the 65-66 season, he was crowned European Champion with the so-called ye-ye team of Amancio Amaro, Velázquez, Ramón Grosso, De Felipe, Sanchís, Paco Gento... Betancort was unlucky not to be able to play in the final against

Partizan Belgrade

, having been injured in an epic semi-final match against

Inter Milan

.

Garcia Remon

Another Spanish player and the only Madrid born keeper in our list of greatest goalkeepers in Real Madrid history is Garcia Remon. He joined Real Madrid at the age of fifteen, on 1 August 1966. During the 1970-71 season, he was loaned to Talavera C. F., before being loaned again to

Real Oviedo

in December, where he gathered the necessary experience to return to Real Madrid and become a fully-fledged goalkeeper in the first team of the Real Madrid.

He won the 1971-72 league title and played for Real Madrid for fourteen seasons, until the 1984-85 season. His debut with the first team was in the Iberian Trophy played in Badajoz. He won the league title on six occasions and the

Copa del Rey

on another four.

The game which is best remembered by García Remón's Madrid fans came at the same time as Madrid's 100th match in the European Cup. Real Madrid was playing Dinamo Kiev in Odessa on 7 March 1973, and the goalkeeper's performance earned him the nickname of the Odessa Cat. He sustained numerous injuries throughout his career, including a meniscus fracture, cruciate ligaments, elbow fracture and triad.

He was a goalkeeper for Real Madrid for twenty years, fifteen of them in the first team. He made 177 appearances in the First Division, another twenty-nine in European competitions and twenty-five in the Copa del Rey. Stay tuned for more of the best Real Madrid goalkeepers of all time.

Juan Alonso

One of the greatest names in the Real Madrid goalkeepers history is undoubtedly the Juan Alonso. Juan Alonso signed for Real Madrid in 1949 after finishing his military service. He was recommended by José Bañón, Real Madrid's own first-choice goalkeeper who was forced to retire prematurely from football that same year due to a lung injury. In principle, Juan Alonso arrived as the team's third goalkeeper after Adauto and García Martín, who were already in the team beforehand.

Nevertheless, because of injuries to the first-choice players, Juan Alonso was given his chance on the fourth day of the league season and made his debut for Real Madrid in the Spanish First Division. Alonso took over the first team jersey that same season and did not give it up for a decade, thus becoming one of the pillars of the great Real Madrid of the 5 European Cups.

As a goalkeeper, his style was characterized by his regularity, security, calmness and composure. He had good positioning, good reflexes, good fist clearances and a great intuition to anticipate his opponent. His short height, at only 1m72, sometimes caused him problems. He had a reputation for hard work and conscientious training.

He was a member of Real Madrid for thirteen seasons -1949 to 1962- where he built a successful career. During three of those seasons (1951-54) his older brother Gabriel, who played in defence, was in the Real Madrid team with him. Stay tuned for more of the best Real Madrid goalkeepers of all time.

Miguel Angel Gonzalez Suarez

In our list of greatest Real Madrid goalkeepers of all time which is full of Spanish players, Miguel Angel Gonzalez Suarez is just another name. He took his first steps in the world of sport as a handball goalkeeper and did not start playing football before he was a youth player. While playing for Agrupación Deportiva Couto, the Real Madrid coaches spotted him during a friendly match that the Galicians played at the Chamartín Stadium.

He joined the Madrid team in the summer of 1967, where he met up with other great goalkeepers such as Antonio Betancort and García Remón. Therefore, he hardly played in his first six years as a Madrid player, even going out on loan for one season to CD Castellón. When Miguel Muñoz left the bench, he made the leap to the starting line-up, playing in the 1974 Copa del Rey final, in which Real Madrid won 4:0 against FC Barcelona.

Starting in the 1974/75 season, he became an undisputed first-choice keeper, keeping goal for Real Madrid for a decade. He retired in 1986 at the age of 38, after eighteen seasons at Real Madrid, with a spectacular list of honours: eight

La Liga

titles, five Cup championships, one League Cup and two UEFA Cups, among other titles. Furthermore, he won the Zamora Trophy awarded to the least-scored goalkeeper in La Liga in 1976. In total, he played 246 games in the First Division.

Francisco Buyo

One of the most recent keepers in our list of best goalkeepers in Real Madrid club history is Francisco Buyo. He started professional football at Mallorca and after signing for Deportivo La Coruña, he became a first team goalkeeper for them, later joining Sevilla. Buyo's excellent performance and undisputed first-choice in the Sevilla team during his 6 seasons, led Real Madrid Club de Fútbol to choose him, who acquired his services in 1986, where he remained as the first-choice goalkeeper until 1996 (during 11 seasons as the first-choice goalkeeper with Real Madrid), marking an era in the Real Madrid team.

He played 454 official matches with Real Madrid, won 13 titles and several runner-up titles, 2 Zamora trophies, as well as reaching three consecutive European Cup semi-finals, among many other trophies. His great performance at Real Madrid led to interest from

FC Barcelona

in signing him, both during Terry Venables' time as a coach and later in Johan Cruyff's.

He finally left the Merengue squad in 1997 and hung up his boots, retiring from professional football for good after 25 seasons, 16 of which were in the 1st Division, playing a total of 542 games in the Spanish National First Division League Championship, making him one of the players who has played the most games in the history of the competition. He was also the first player in the history of Spanish football to reach the figure of 500 games in the League.

He left great goalkeepers such as Ochotorena, Agustín and later Cañizares on the bench, and was part of a team that went down in history alongside the so-called Quinta del Buitre and Quinta de los Machos, who came close to winning the European Cup. Stay tuned for more of the best Real Madrid goalkeepers of all time.

Ricardo Zamora

When talking about the greatest goalkeepers in Real Madrid history, we cannot fail to mention Ricardo Zamora. The talented goalkeeper is regarded as the first great player in the history of Spanish football, and it was in his honor that the Zamora award was established for the goalkeeper who conceded the fewest goals in the Spanish First Division. As we as Barcelona, his name will always be there as one of the best in the Real Madrid goalkeepers history.

Zamora was born in Barcelona and started his football career at Espanyol, before moving to FC Barcelona in 1919. After three seasons there, he once again returned to Espanyol. Zamora joined Real Madrid in 1930. The Madrid club spent 150,000 pesetas to recruit him (100,000 pesetas for his club Espanyol de Barcelona and 50,000 pesetas for Zamora himself), which at that time was the most expensive transfer in history. On top of this signing bonus, Ricardo Zamora was paid 3,000 pesetas a month, making him one of the highest-paid footballers in the world. 

At the time, his salary was compared to that of a minister. His departure for the Madrid team represents the first transfer of a player from a Barcelona club to a Madrid club. It is often said that this move was one of the sources of the now historic rivalry between Barcelona and Madrid.

With Real Madrid, Zamora won the Spanish league which was introduced in 1928 twice in 1932 and 1933) and the cup in 1934 and 1936. As the Spanish Civil War broke out in 1936, Zamora, who sided strongly with the Spanish nationalists under General Franco, was arrested by the Republicans before being set free. He escaped to

France

, where he ended his career with OGC

Nice

.

Iker Casillas

Usually, there aren’t any best Real Madrid goalkeepers of all time list without Iker Casillas topping it. He made his debut at a very early age, as Madrid took him out of the academy at the age of 17 to put him in the first team. Nevertheless, he was still a few years away from winning a place in the first team. After César's injury in 2002 and his performance in the final against Leverkusen to win the ninth Champions League, nobody could take the first-choice goalkeeper's position away from him.

He had already made history by playing a part in winning the eighth UCL title versus Valencia, but he had a slight dip in form and spent almost a year on the bench.

Following a decade in which nobody ever thought of benching him, winning several leagues, Supercups, Champions League titles and even a Club World Cup, first Mourinho and then an injury left him in the dock. The 2014-15 season was his last with Madrid, after winning a European Super Cup and the Club World Cup, leaving half of the fans calling for him to continue and others saying it was time to let new players come in.

He announced his departure from the club in a simple press conference, followed by a photo of him and his trophies, but of course, the stain on his farewell does not tarnish his star. He will be always remembered as one of the best Real Madrid goalkeepers of all time.

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