Quality footballers always deliver on the international stage and at the club level, regardless of wherever they are. This is what sets good players apart from the not-so-good ones for their teams. Many of the world's best players have often performed very impressively for their national teams, and goalkeepers are not left out.
The 21st century has seen some of the world's greatest goalkeepers ever, with several of them playing key roles for the teams. Without a good defense, no team can triumph in football and the job of a defense is to prevent the opposition from scoring.
Keeping clean sheets is a result of the combined efforts of the goalkeeper and defenders. However, goalkeepers are mostly the deciding factor because they're the last line of defense. The ability of goalkeepers to keep clean sheets is one statistic that can define their respective careers.
Hence, here is a list of five goalkeepers who have kept the greatest number of clean sheets in international football in the 21st century.
#5 Petr Cech (56 clean sheets)
Premier League great Petr Cech was not just a legend at club level but also with the Czech Republic national team. The goalkeeper played for the Czech senior football team for 14 years between 2002 and 2016 and managed to keep 56 clean sheets in 124 appearances for his country.
Cech made his debut for Czech Republic in 2002 while he played for Rennes. He was able to establish himself as the first-choice between the sticks heading into Euro 2004. He helped his side reach the semi-finals of the tournament before they were knocked out at the semi-final stage by eventual winners Greece.
Cech played for his country at the 2006 FIFA World Cup, Euro 2008, Euro 2012, and Euro 2016, as well.
Cech holds the appearance record for his country with 124 appearances and is the most decorated player in Czech history. The goalkeeper captained his country before his retirement and is one of their greatest players ever.
#4 David Ospina (61 clean sheets)
David Ospina has featured for some of the biggest clubs in Europe, as well as the Colombian men's football team. The 33-year-old is a legend back home in Colombia, and deservedly so.
Ospina has been a full international for Colombia since 2007 when he made his debut against Uruguay. The SSC Napoli goalkeeper has kept 61 clean sheets for his national team, representing a clean sheet in nearly 50% of his appearances for the side. Ospina represented his country at the 2014 and 2018 FIFA World Cups, as well as in four editions of the Copa America.
The former Arsenal goalkeeper has made 124 appearances for Colombia since making his debut. He holds the record for being the youngest goalkeeper to start a match for his country, and is the country's most-capped player ever.
#3 Hugo Lloris (62 clean sheets)
Hugo Lloris' longevity at the highest level of football is something to marvel at. The Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper has enjoyed a brilliant career at club and international level. Lloris has kept 62 clean sheets for the French national team since making his debut back in 2008.
Lloris made his international bow against Uruguay in 2008, keeping a clean sheet in his first appearance for his country. He was instrumental in helping France reach the 2010 FIFA World Cup and featured in the tournament.
He also featured in Euro 2012, 2014 FIFA World Cup, Euro 2016, 2018 FIFA World Cup, and Euro 2020. Aside from the 2010 World Cup, he captained his national team to all of the other tournaments, winning the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Lloris has made 137 appearances for the French national team and is their most-capped goalkeeper ever. The Tottenham man has been a standout performer for his country. He was also between the sticks as they won the 2021 UEFA Nations League.
#2 Gianluigi Buffon (72 clean sheets)
Gianluigi Buffon started his career in 1990s and is still active in 2020s, a testament to a long and successful career. The legendary Italian shot-stopper is one of the greatest the sport has ever seen in his position. He kept 72 clean sheets in his international career for Italy.
Buffon made his international debut in 1997 as a teenager and was included in the squad that played at the 1998 FIFA World Cup. He made his tournament debut for Italy at the 2002 FIFA World Cup and featured in Euro 2004. He was in goal for the Azzurri as they won the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany. He played in Euro 2008, 2010 World Cup, Euro 2012, 2014 World Cup, and Euro 2016.
Buffon made 176 appearances for Italy and is the nation's most capped player of all time. He finished second behind Fabio Cannavaro in the 2006 Ballon d'Or rankings. He is one of the very few players to have made over 1,100 appearances in their careers. Now 44, he represents Parma in Serie B.
#1 Iker Casillas (102 clean sheets)
Widely regarded as one of the greatest goalkeepers of his generation, Iker Casillas, known as Saint Iker in his native Spain, kept 102 clean sheets. The former Real Madrid goalkeeper enjoyed a successful career for club and country.
Casillas made his debut for the Spanish team in 2000 as a 19-year-old. He was part of the squad for Euro 2000 but did not make an appearance at the tournament.
He was the youngest starting goalkeeper at the 2002 FIFA World Cup and featured in Euro 2004 and the 2006 World Cup. He captained Spain to glory in Euro 2008, the 2010 World Cup, and Euro 2012.
His last international appearance came in a friendly before Euro 2016. He was part of the squad to the tournament but was second choice behind David De Gea.
Casillas appeared for La Roja 167 times and was the first goalkeeper to ever keep 100 clean sheets in international football. He retired in 2020 after a heart-related problem.
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