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Best Spanish goalkeepers of all time

Mon 11 October 2021 | 17:30

Who are the greatest Spanish goalkeepers of all time? Join us in the following article to find the answer out.

From the loneliness of enjoying in goal to different dress, a goalkeeper is somebody else throughout the rest of his team. The position has been an underrated post in sport's history. While strikers get most of the fame, goalkeepers are often overshadowed by attackers and other players. They are ranked based on longevity, team honors, and peak but only in their specific domestic Leagues.

One of the powerhouses in football is

Spain

, which has formed a great list of football figures who have played in many international stages. The nation has produced much quality, including goalkeepers in football. In football history, Spain has some of the greatest Goalkeepers in La Liga and other Leagues around the world. That's why we bring the greatest Spanish goalkeepers in football history.

From greatest Iker Casillas to Andoni Zubizarreta, here are the

best Spanish goalkeepers of all time

. Join us on this short trip in the history of the nation to get to know these goalkeepers.

Most memorable Spanish goalkeepers in history

In the following article we will review the greatest Spanish goalkeepers in football history.

Pepe Reina

  • Age:

    39

  • Height:

    1.88 m (6 ft 2 in)

  • Club(s):

    Barcelona, Villarreal, Liverpool, Napoli, Bayern Munich, Napoli, Milan, Aston Villa, Lazio

Including Pepe Reina in the list of best Spanish goalkeepers of all time should not be surprising, considering his extraordinary performances at Liverpool. Known for his ball skills, technique, distribution, and positioning, Pepe Reina has set several goalkeeping records for the Reds.

Born in Madrid, Reina began his career with the

Barcelona

youth side, and in the 2000–01 season, made his La Liga debut. The following season he moved to

Villarreal

, winning the UEFA Intertoto Cup twice. After three seasons, the Spanish goalkeeper joined Liverpool and became the first-choice goalkeeper.

He spent eight seasons with the Reds and played 394 times for the club, conceding 339 goals. Reina won one FA Cup, one Football League Cup, 2006 FA Community Shield, and 2005 UEFA Super Cup during his spell with Liverpool. The strong goalkeeper helped the club reach the Champions League Final, but they lost to Milan. After eight seasons, the goalkeeper moved to Napoli on loan under Rafael Benitez.

Pepe Reina went on to play for

Bayern Munich

, where he was the second-choice keeper behind Manuel Neuer. Then he returned to the Italian club in 2015, and after that, moved to Milan. Currently, he kicks the ball for Lazio in Serie. As a member of Spain's national side, he has generally been named the second-choice goalkeeper, behind Iker Casillas and David de Gea.

Reina was part of the Spain squad for 2006, 2010,2014, and 2018 FIFA World Cup, as well as UEFA Euro 2008 and 2012. His notable individual achievements:

  • Premier League Golden Glove (three times)

  • Liverpool Player of the Season (2009-10)

Juan Carlos Ablanedo

  • Age:

    58

  • Height:

    1.77 m (5 ft 9+1⁄2 in)

  • Club(s):

    Sporting Gijon

Another great Spanish goalkeeper in the list of best Spanish goalkeepers of all time, Juan Carlos Ablanedo, played solely for Sporting de Gijon. Being a product of the Spanish club youth system, Ablanedo made his first-team debut on 2 January 1983 against RCD Espanol as a second-half substitute after Jose Aurelio Rivero was sent off.

Known as El gato (cat), he became Sporting de Gijon's undisputed starter after two further appearances the following season. During the 1986–87 campaign, he played in 42 matches out of 44, as the Spanish club finished fourth. The legend played 335 times for Sporting and conceded 405 goals. Due to severe injuries, El gato played only two games in his last season and retired from professional football after the 1998–99 season.

As a member of Spain's national side, Juan Carlos Ablanedo won only four caps for his country, and he made his debut on 24 September 1986 against Greece. He was one of the members of Spain's under-21s, winning the 1986 European Championship. His notable individual achievements:

  • Ricardo Zamora Trophy (three times)

Luis Arconada

  • Age:

    67

  • Height:

    1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)

  • Club(s):

    San Sebastian, Real Sociedad

Nicknamed El pulpo (Octopus), Luis Arconada is one of the

most memorable Spanish goalkeepers in history

. Born in San Sebastian, Gipuzkoa, the Spanish goalkeeper, was known for his bravery, leadership, and consistency. When he was 16, Arconada moved Real Sociedad's youth system, playing there his entire career. The legend became

Real Sociedad

undisputed starter, after two seasons, winning two consecutive La Liga titles, one Copa del Rey title, and 1982 Supercopa de Espana.

In the opener of the 1985–86 season, he was injured and missed the remainder of the campaign, as well as the 1986 FIFA World Cup. The legend returned strong and helped his boyhood club to two consecutive Copa del Rey finals. Luis Arconada retired when he was 35, playing 456 times and conceding 164 goals.

At the international level, he made his debut for Spain's senior side on 27 March 1977 against

Hungary

, replacing Miguel Angel, Real Madrid's goalkeeper, for the second half. The legend represented his country at UEFA Euro 1980 and 1984, as well as the 1978 and 1982 FIFA World Cups. In 1984 the UEFA Euro final, his mistake resulted in France's opening goal.

Although he is regarded as one of the best Spanish goalkeepers in history, the goalkeeper is remembered for his mistake, known as Arconada's goal in the country. He also played at the 1976 Summer Olympics, where Spain was eliminated in the first round. His notable individual achievements:

  • Ricardo Zamora Trophy (three times)

Jose Angel Iribar

  • Age:

    78

  • Height:

    1.81 m (5 ft 11 in)

  • Club(s):

    Basconia, Athletic Bilbao

Jose Angel Iribar is surely one of the best Spanish goalkeepers of all time. Born in Zarautz, Gipuzkoa, Iribar began his career at CD Basconia; due to his extraordinary performance, he helped the club eliminate

Atletico Madrid

in the Copa del Generalísimo, he moved to Athletic Bilbao for a then-record 1 million pesetas. 

From 1962 to 1980, Iribar played 194 matches for Athletic Bilbao, conceding 256 goals. The legend kept a clean sheet during the 1970–71 season, at ten successive home games, a record of 1,018 minutes. Known for his leadership and goalkeeping ability, the Spanish keeper helped Athletic Bilbao win Copa del Generalisimo on two occasions. Jose Angel Iribar held the record of most appearance player in European competition until 2016. 

As a member of Spain's national side, on 11 March 1964, Iriar played for the first time for his country against the Republic of Ireland in the first leg of the 1964 European Nations' Cup. He represented his country at the 1966 FIFA World Cup and played all three group stage games. He won 49 caps for Spain's national team, and his last match was on 24 April 1976 against West Germany, winning the 1964 UEFA European Championship with his country. So it is not surprising to see his name on the list of

best Spanish goalkeepers in history

. His notable individual achievements:

  • Ricardo Zamora Trophy (1969-70)

Santiago Canizares

  • Age:

    51

  • Height:

    1.81 m (5 ft 11 in)

  • Club(s):

    Real Madrid, Elche, Merida, Celta, Valencia

Including Santiago Canizares in the list of the best Spanish goalkeepers of all time should not be surprising, mentioning his performances at Valencia. One of the

best La Liga goalkeepers of all time

, Canizares, was a product of Real Madrid's youth academies; but he could not establish himself at the Whites' first side. Known for his quick reflexes, he moved to Valencia in 1998, replacing the retired Andoni Zubizarreta.

Santiago Canizares helped Valencia to win Supercup and the Spanish Cup in 1999, as well as reach two consecutive UEFA Champions League finals, losing both finals to Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. He spent ten years with the Bats, winning two La Liga titles, one Copa del Rey title, 1999 Supercopa de Espana, one UEFA Cup, 2004 UEFA Super Cup, 1998 UEFA Intertoto Cup.  In December 2007, Ronald Koeman, the Valencia manager, axed Canizares alongside Miguel Angel Angulo and David Albelda, his two teammates, and they could not join another team in Spain. With Koeman's sacking, he returned to action on 27 April 2008. When he was 39, Canizares announced his retirement, having appeared in 500 league matches.

On the international level, Santiago Canizares won 46 caps for his country. He made his debut on 17 November 1993, replacing Zubizarreta, who was sent off in the tenth minute of the game against Denmark in the 1994 FIFA World Cup qualifier. The goalkeeper also won the 1986 UEFA European Under-16 Championship and the 1992 Summer Olympic Games. His notable individual achievements:

  • Ricardo Zamora Trophy (four times)

  • UEFA Team of the Year (2001)

Victor Valdes

  • Age:

    39

  • Height:

    1.83 m (6 ft 0 in)

  • Club(s):

    Barcelona, Manchester United, Standard Liege, Middlesbrough

The next goalkeeper on the list of the best Spanish goalkeepers of all time is Victor Valdes, who spent most of his professional career with the Catalans. He is famous for both his heroic performances and horrible mistakes. Born in Barcelona, Catalonia, the Spaniard began his career with FC Barcelona's youth side.

Known for his ability to play with his feet, the goalkeeper made his debut in the third qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League against Legia Warszawa. During the 2003–04 season, Valdes became the first-choice goalkeeper, winning the Zamora Trophy as the best goalkeeper in Spain that season. Barcelona fans remember him for some of his mistakes in crucial moments, including his error in the Spanish Super Cup against the Whites, which led to Angel Di Maria's goal.

Despite these errors, he helped Barcelona to win many titles under Frank Rijkaard and Pep Guardiola. He played 536 times for the Catalans, conceding 441 goals and keeping 239 clean sheets.

He helped Barcelona win six La Liga titles, two Copa del Rey titles, Supercopa de Espana on six occasions, three UEFA Champions League titles, two UEFA Super Cups, and two FIFA Club World Cups.

Valdes went on to play for

Manchester United

, Standard Liege, and Middlesbrough. In January 2018, he announced his retirement. As a member of Spain's national team, he was overlooked by many coaches of the Spanish national side, but finally, Vicente del Bosque included him in Spain's final 23-man squad for the 2010 FIFA World Cup as the second-choice goalkeeper. The Spanish goalkeeper made his debut for Spain on 3 June 2010, against South Korea. His notable individual achievements:

  • Zamora Trophy (five times)

  • La Liga Best Goalkeeper (twice)

  • ESM Team of the Year (2010-11)

  • Middlesbrough Player of the Month: (October 2016)

Antoni Ramallets

Age: -

Height:

1.82 m (5 ft 11+1⁄2 in)

Club(s):

San Fernando, Mallorca, Barcelona, Valladolid

Antoni Ramallets is surely one of the

greatest Spanish goalkeepers in football history

. When he was 23, Ramallets joined Barcelona, where he also spent his first season after being purchased on loan. He made his La Liga debut on 28 November 1948 after returning.

Antoni Ramallets helped the Catalans win the La Liga title on six occasions, five Copa del Generalisimo titles, three Copa Eva Duarte titles, two Inter-Cities Fairs Cups, two Latin Cups. In terms of goals Conceded Ratio, the 1958-1959 season was his best season. During that campaign, the Spaniard conceded only 23 goals in 28 games.

At the international level, he won 35 caps for his country for 11 years. During the 1950 FIFA World Cup in

Brazil

, the legend made his debut for his country against Chile. His notable individual achievements:

  • Ricardo Zamora Trophy (five times)

Andoni Zubizarreta

Age:

59

Height:

1.87 m (6 ft 2 in)

Club(s):

Alaves, Bilbao Athletic, Athletic Bilbao, Barcelona, Valencia

Known as Zubi, undoubtedly, Andoni Zubizarreta is one of the best Spanish goalkeepers of all time. Known for his shot-stopping abilities, Zubi kept many records in Spanish football to his name for many years, including the records for most appearances and clean sheets in La Liga with 622 games.

Born in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Alava, the Spanish goalkeeper began his professional career at Deportivo Alaves, and after a brief passage at the club, he moved to Athletic Bilbao, where he spent six seasons. In 1986, Andoni Zubizarreta moved to the Catalans for a record for a player in the position €1.7 million. He played 395 times for Barcelona and conceded 359 goals, winning the La Liga title on four occasions, two Copa del Rey titles, two Supercopa de Espana titles, one European Cup, one UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, and 1992 UEFA Super Cup. His best season was the 1986-1987 season, conceding only 29 goals in 43 matches for the Catalans.

Following Barcelona's loss in the final of the 1993–94 UEFA Champions League, Zubi ended his career at the Catalans and joined Valencia. He played 173 times for the club, conceding 213 goals and keeping 50 clean sheets.

At the international level, he made his debut for his country on 23 January 1985 against

Finland

. He represented his country at four consecutive FIFA World Cups (1986, 1990, 1994, and 1998) and two UEFA Euro competitions (1988 and 1996). His notable individual achievements:

  • 1987 Don Balon Award

  • Zamora Trophy (once)

Ricardo Zamora

Age: -

Height:

1.86 m (6 ft 1 in)

Club(s):

Espanyol, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Nice

One of the

best goalkeepers in football history

, Ricardo Zamora was a stylish icon. A great goalkeeper was known for his quick reflexes, athleticism, large frame, shot-stopping abilities, and bravery. Nicknamed El Divino, Zamora began his professional career at Espanyol, winning the Campionat de Catalunya in 1918. After an argument with one of the club's directors, he was transferred to the Catalans in 1919.

After three seasons, El Divino returned to Espanyol, and he made his La Liga debut with Espanyol on 2 February 1929. The legend goalkeeper helped the club win their first-ever Copa del Rey and the Campionat de Catalunya.

From 1919 to 1922, he was one of the vital members of the legendary FC Barcelona team under Jack Greenwell, winning two Copa del Rey titles and Catalan Champions on three occasions. He moved to Real Madrid in 1930, and during the 1931–32 season, the legend helped the club win La Liga for the first time.

Ricardo Zamora won two La Liga titles and Copa de Espana on two occasions with the Whites. The 1931-1932 season was his best season, conceding 15 goals in 17 matches. In his first, fourth, and fifth seasons of La Liga, he won the award of the best goalkeeper, and due to his numerous achievements in La Liga, the award was named after him in 1958.

At the international level, he was a member of the first-ever Spanish national squad, winning the silver medal at the 1920 Olympic Games. Ricardo Zamora is remembered for his extraordinary performance for Spain against England, where he kept playing despite breaking his sternum. His notable individual achievements:

  • IFFHS Best Spanish Goalkeeper of the Twentieth Century

  • IFFHS Fourth Best European Goalkeeper of the Twentieth Century

  • FIFA World Cup Team of the tournament (1934)

  • FIFA World Cup Best Goalkeeper Award (1934)

Iker Casillas

  • Age:

    40

  • Height:

    1.82 m (6 ft 0 in)

  • Club(s):

    Real Madrid, Porto

Known as San Iker, Iker Casillas is regarded as one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time. Right from the start, the Spanish goalkeeper proved that he can be among the

greatest Spanish goalkeepers of all time

. The legend began his career with the Real Madrid youth team and joined the Real Madrid senior side as a teenager, becoming the youngest goalkeeper to play in the final of the Champions League.

His first four years with the Whites were legendary as they won two La Liga titles and two UEFA Champions League. However, in the next ten years, Casillas had less success due to Barca's powerful team. Despite his extraordinary performances at Real Madrid, he only won one Zamora trophy.

During his successful career at the Whites, he won five La Liga titles, Copa del Rey title on two occasions, four Supercopa de Espana titles, UEFA Champions League on three occasions, two UEFA Super Cups, 2014 FIFA Club World Cup, and two Intercontinental Cups.

He played 510 times for the Whites, conceding 525 goals and keeping 177 clean sheets. In 2015 Casillas left Madrid after 16 seasons and went on to play for Porto. The Spanish legend played three seasons for the Portuguese club, winning one Primeira Liga title and the 2018 Supertaca Candido de Oliveira. Following his heart attack in training, he retired from professional football.

At the international level, Iker Casillas had a key role in his country's historical achievements. The legend helped Spain win the FIFA World cup in 2010 as well as two back-to-back UEFA European Championships in 2008 and 2012. His notable individual achievements:

  • Bravo Award (2000)

  • La Liga Zamora Trophy (once)

  • La Liga Best Goalkeeper (two times)

  • IFFHS World's Best Goalkeeper (five times)

  • FIFA World Cup Golden Glove (2010)

  • Golden Foot (2017)

So what do you think about our article on the

best Spanish goalkeepers of all time

? Any other Spanish keeper who should be included? Comment us your views.

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