Ranking the 10 greatest goalkeepers with the most penalty saves in the 21st century

Who is the goalkeeper with the most penalty saves this century?
Who is the goalkeeper with the most penalty saves this century?

Goalkeepers are the most blamed and the least praised players of a team. The shot-stoppers have the power to turn games upside down and save the team from their mediocre performances.

Despite literally putting their body on the line and making superhuman saves, one mistake is often enough for people to judge their whole career.

Along with the primary obligation, goalkeepers are also the catalysts for many counter-attacks. So along with preventing goals, they also contribute to scoring goals, albeit indirectly.

There are plenty of other ways goalkeepers can make an impact, however, in this article, we will be analyzing their nail-biting responsibility of them all, the penalty saves.

The best goalkeepers in Europe 🧤According to the stats, at least!

With the odds of scoring and saving at 50 per cent, goalkeepers are never burdened with too many expectations. But making a save from the 12-yard spot not only motivates them but also improves the morale of the teams to fight back.

However, this is not a role every goalkeeper specializes in. Although many players share the same spot, we will be ranking only the 10 of the greatest goalkeepers with the most penalty saves this century:

Note: All stats are as listed on Transfermarkt

#10 Gianluigi Donnarumma - 16 saves

Italy Training & Press Conference
Italy Training & Press Conference

One will surely envy the career the Italian has recorded so far. At just 22 years of age, Gianluigi Donnarumma has already neared a mammoth 300 appearances, a feat that a normal player takes at least four more years to achieve.

Donnarumma is unlike any other goalkeeper. He made his professional debut for AC Milan at the age of 16, making him the second youngest Italian goalkeeper to start a match.

With maturity far beyond his age, the current PSG player has made 16 penalty saves so far. Considering he has way more than a decade left in his tank, he can easily get to the top of this list.

#9 Hugo Lloris - 17 saves

Tottenham Hotspur v Vitesse: Group A - UEFA Europa Conference League
Tottenham Hotspur v Vitesse: Group A - UEFA Europa Conference League

The 34-year-old World Cup-winning Frenchman has become famous for his saves in the last few years. He is part of the Tottenham Hotspur squad that rose from ground zero and Lloris' contributions have played a huge role in it.

Before joining the Premier League side, he had created a name while playing for OGC Nice and Lyon.

With more than 800 appearances made throughout his career, Lloris ranks ninth on the list with 17 saves.

#8 Tim Howard - 18 saves

Norwich City v Everton - Premier League
Norwich City v Everton - Premier League

The most capped U.S. goalkeeper has saved 18 penalties in the 21st century. Howard's performances attracted Manchester United, who signed him in 2003. It was a good start to his life in England, but after the Red Devils signed Edwin van der Sar, he fell down the pecking order.

Tim Howard weighs in on the current USMNT goalkeeper situation 👀

However, a move to Everton rejuvenated him and this is where he became one of the best spot-kick stoppers in the world. In 2009, he saved two penalties against his former club, Manchester United, to guide Everton to the FA Cup final.

#7 Pepe Reina - 19 saves

SS Lazio v ACF Fiorentina - Serie A
SS Lazio v ACF Fiorentina - Serie A

The Spanish veteran is still on a mission to climb up the ladder. The 39-year-old goalkeeper has saved 19 penalties from his career across Europe. His international career never clicked due to the presence of the almighty Iker Casillas in the Spain team. But he cemented his presence as a top keeper with his performances at club level.

His most famous spell came during the decade-long stint with Liverpool. Reina won the Golden Glove thrice in the Premier League and earned his name as a penalty expert. He was their undisputed choice, averaging nearly 50 appearances a season.

#6 Iker Casillas - 20 saves

Lyon v Real Madrid - UEFA Champions League
Lyon v Real Madrid - UEFA Champions League

Legendary goalkeeper Iker Casillas ranks sixth on this list with 20 saves. Don't get fooled by the position he has secured here. Casillas is considered the most decorated goalkeeper of all time and his skills have contributed a lot to his success. He is also one of the few players to have played more than 1,000 matches.

In 1999, an unfamiliar face was substituted in Real vs Olympiacos game as he became the youngest GK ever to play UCL. That 17 year old would concede 3 but would eventually become the keeper with the most cleansheets in the Champions League history. His name was Iker Casillas.

At the age of 18, he became the youngest goalkeeper to debut in the Champions League featuring for Real Madrid and held onto that record for 17 long years. The majority of his career lasted with Los Blancos and there is not a single trophy he hasn't won at the Bernabeu. Even for his country, he has won an international trophy in every age category.

#5 Petr Cech - 21 saves

Chelsea FC v Sporting Clube de Portugal - UEFA Champions League
Chelsea FC v Sporting Clube de Portugal - UEFA Champions League

Another goalkeeper belonging to the elite category is the Czech Republic international, Petr Cech. Honestly, he deserves more respect than he is given. He was part of the Premier League era where strikers were deemed the deadliest. Despite all that, he managed to grab four Golden Gloves and plenty of other individual awards.

He has saved 21 penalties this century and the most prominent one remains his display in the 2012 Champions League final. He saved a penalty in the match against Bayern Munich and stopped two more in the penalty shootout to grant Chelsea their maiden title.

Cech also holds the record for the most clean sheets(202) by a goalkeeper in the Premier League.

#4 Manuel Neuer - 25 saves

SL Benfica v Bayern München: Group E - UEFA Champions League
SL Benfica v Bayern München: Group E - UEFA Champions League

Manuel Neuer is one of the greatest goalkeepers ever and his calmness on the pitch remains unmatched. He handles his role without breaking a sweat and has redefined goalkeeping as a whole.

The 34-year-old German has the nickname 'sweeper-keeper' as he rushes out of the box whenever the opposition beats the last line of defense. He won the 2014 FIFA World Cup and also grabbed the Golden Glove in the respective competition.

Manuel Neuer knows how to win a bet 😂💪 (via @FCBayernEN)

Neuer has a plethora of individual trophies to his name which defines his skill. Bayern Munich's No.1 has saved 25 penalties and he could definitely add to it before retiring.

#3 Diego Alves - 26 saves

Valencia CF v Real Madrid CF - La Liga
Valencia CF v Real Madrid CF - La Liga

The goalkeeper on this list who has grabbed third-place with 26 penalty saves is Flamengo's Diego Alves. The least famous on the list, Alves has battled some great names to earn his spot.

Starting his journey with a Brazilian club, Alves made his name in La Liga during the decade long stay with Almeria and Valencia. Widely regarded as a penalty specialist, Alves described it as 'a psychological battle between the goalkeeper and the taker'.

Safe to say, he has mastered the art of winning this battle.

#2 Gianluigi Buffon - 30 saves

Atalanta BC v Juventus - TIMVISION Cup Final
Atalanta BC v Juventus - TIMVISION Cup Final

Gianluigi Buffon is undoubtedly one of the icons of the game and there is no argument there. His calmness under pressure and consistency has gained praise from managers and players since the day he made his debut.

Buffon's agility and quick reflexes, despite his towering figure, have earned him the title of the best of this generation. However, he had to settle for a rare runners-up position on this list.

#OnThisDay in 1995, Gianluigi Buffon made his first-team debut for Parma 💛💙 After 20 years away, with spells at Juventus and PSG, the Italian icon returned to his boyhood club in June 😍

He ranks sixth in the world for the most appearances and is still going strong with 1,142 matches to his name. Buffon has broken every individual record as a goalkeeper and has decorated himself with many trophies as well. However, the only thing missing from his long career is the prestigious Champions League.

Buffon turned 43 this year and has kept a healthy gap from Diego Alves with 30 penalty saves, which he will be hoping to extend further while playing for Parma.

#1 Samir Handanovic - 38 saves

FC Internazionale v SSC Napoli - Serie A
FC Internazionale v SSC Napoli - Serie A

Behold! The holder of the first-place by a mile. Courtesy of 38 saves, Samir Handanovic is the goalkeeper with the most penalty saves in the 21st century. Surprisingly, the Slovenian can extend his lead further as he is six years younger than his closest challenger.

La Gazzetta // goalkeeper Samir Handanovic is ready to renew his contract for another season with Inter 🚨🚨🚨

His outstanding reflexes and level-headedness on the pitch has helped him climb to the summit of this list . Despite his exceptional talent, he struggled to achieve major trophies in his 18-year career.

But his hard work was finally rewarded when Inter Milan won the Serie A title in the 2020-21 season. Handanovic has retired from international football, but he remains the club's primary goalkeeper.

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Edited by Nived Zenith
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