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5 Greatest Manchester United Goalkeepers of all Time

Paul Benson
Top 5 / Top 10
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David de Gea: United's player of the year for four out of the last five years
David de Gea: United's player of the year for four out of the last five years

When Football fans think of Manchester United, they inevitably think of decades worth of beautiful, dynamic attacking Football with such luminaries as Sir Bobby Charlton, Ryan Giggs, Eric Cantona, Wayne Rooney and Cristiana Ronaldo leading the charge.

What goes under the radar somewhat, however, is that United's status as England's most successful Football club is built from the back with legendary goalkeepers stood between the sticks a tradition dating back to the 1950's and Sir Matt Busby's original Busby Babes team.

It is no coincidence that the most fallow periods of success in United's history coincided with their lack of certainty in the goalkeeper position. Following the exit of long-serving goalkeeper, Alex Stepney in 1978, United called upon Gary Bailey to keep goal, but in one of his first high profile matches, he made a big gaffe, failing to intercept a cross in the 1979 FA Cup Final which directly led to Alan Sunderland scoring the winning goal for Arsenal.

Between 2003 and 2005, United played both American, Tim Howard and Northern Irishman, Roy Carroll in goal regularly, with manager Sir Alex Ferguson unable to decide which of the two were his number one, which ensured United finished no higher than third in the FA Premier League table during that two-season period.

In 2018, United's best player is a goalkeeper, David de Gea; proven by the four Player of the Year awards, the shot-stopper has accrued in the past five seasons.

Without de Gea, United's success over the past seven years would have been notably less as no goalkeeper has prevented more clear goal scoring chances than him during that period.

Here are the top 5 goalkeeper's in United's history:

#5 Alex Stepney (1966-78)

Alex Stepney: Kept goal for United for 12 years
Alex Stepney: Kept goal for United for 12 years

Alex Stepney replaced legendary United goalkeeper, Harry Gregg when he made his debut in a 1-0 success versus city rivals, Manchester City.


Stepney became the first English goalkeeper to win the European Cup, when United defeated Benfica 4-1 at Wembley in May 1968.

Portuguese great Eusebio was denied the winning goal in the final minute of normal time with the score 1-1 by a stunning save by Stepney, which Eusebio was forced to applaud.

Stepney's tenure as United goalkeeper also encompassed First Division and FA Cup success in 1967 and 1977 respectively as his spell between the sticks covered different eras of the team.

An excellent positional goalkeeper, Stepney knew where he was inside his own box at all times and was legendary for his vocal organisation of his defence.

Stepney was missed when he exited United in 1978 having fallen out of favour as first choice.

Stepney is the most capped goalkeeper to ever play for the club, having lined up for United 539 times in total, keeping a remarkable 175 clean sheets.

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