Ranking the five most underrated goalkeepers of the 21st century

Hugo Lloris has been the first-choice goalkeeper at Tottenham Hotspur and France
Hugo Lloris has been the first-choice goalkeeper at Tottenham Hotspur and France

Goalkeepers are usually the most underrated and underappreciated players in a football team. One error is enough to turn them from heroes to villains.

Unlike strikers, who are praised for scoring goals despite missing plenty of chances, goalkeepers are judged on a completely different level. Shot-stoppers make a lot of great saves but rarely get praised for them. Moreover, everyone is quick to point fingers at them whenever a team concedes a goal.


Goalkeepers may soon earn as much as their teammates

Big teams across Europe's top five leagues know the importance of having a solid goalkeeper in their ranks. They are now ready to spend the bucks on a shot-stopper who not only makes crucial saves but can also be a source of quick-counter attacks. David De Gea, the best-paid goalkeeper in the world at the moment, earns £375,000 per week.

With that being said, here's a look at the five most underrated goalkeepers of the 21st century.

Honorable mentions:

Diego Lopez, Guillerme Ochoa, Danijel Subasic, Tim Howard


#5 Stéphane Ruffier

Stéphane Ruffier, one of the most underrated goalkeepers in football, retired in 2021
Stéphane Ruffier, one of the most underrated goalkeepers in football, retired in 2021

France has emerged as the hub of footballing talent in recent years. Though it is their attack-minded exports that take a lot of limelight, they have also produced some decent goalkeepers over the years.

One of the shot-stoppers that stood out is Stéphane Ruffier, the Saint-Etienne legend who retired at the age of 34 in 2021.

Ruffier started his career as a striker. However, he was better with his hands than his feet, so he took up goalkeeping at Aviron Bayonnais. After impressing AS Monaco scouts and undergoing a successful trial at the club, the shot-stopper signed an aspirant contract with the French giants in August 2002.

Ruffier signed his first professional contract with the Monaco outfit in 2006. He made 133 appearances for their senior side across all competitions, keeping 52 clean sheets.

The Frenchman then joined Saint-Etienne in 2011. The goalkeeper made 383 appearances for the club across all competitions, keeping 141 clean sheets. He could only win one major title in his career - the erstwhile Coupe de La Liga in the 2012-13 edition.

Ruffier was a physically imposing keeper who has been blessed with fine reflexes. He found himself behind Hugo Lloris and Steven Mandanda in the pecking order for the France national team and could only pick up three caps for Les Blues.

Ruffier announced his retirement from football in January 2021.


#4 Carlos Kameni

Carlos Kameni won the AFCON with Cameroon in 2002
Carlos Kameni won the AFCON with Cameroon in 2002

One of the best goalkeepers from the African continent in the 21st century has to be Carlos Kameni.

Kameni had a good start to his career as he won the Olympic gold medal with the Cameroon national team in 2000, at the age of just 16. Two years later, he won the AFCON and helped the Les Lions Indomitables finish as runners-up in the FIFA Confederations Cup.

The African shot-stopper has played for many European clubs, including Espanyol, Malaga and Fenerbahce. He was named Player of the Year with Malaga for his heroics between the sticks in the 2014-15 season as they finished ninth in La Liga.

Kameni has kept 102 clean sheets in 365 appearances for various clubs across all competitions.

#3 Roman Weidenfeller

Roman Weidenfeller helped Borussia Dortmund become a genuine title contender in the Bundesliga
Roman Weidenfeller helped Borussia Dortmund become a genuine title contender in the Bundesliga

Roman Weidenfeller was one of the best goalkeepers in the Bundesliga in his prime.

Weidenfeller was unfortunate to have come through the ranks in the same generation as Manuel Neuer, one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time. As a result, he managed just five starts for the Germany national team.

Weidenfeller began his career at Sportfreunde Eisbachtal before joining the 1. FC Kaiserslautern youth team in 1998. He was promoted to the first team in the 2000-01 season. However, he only made eight appearances for the senior side across all competitions, keeping three clean sheets.

The goalkeeper joined Borussia Dortmund in 2002 and helped the club become a genuine title contender in the German top flight. He won two Bundesliga titles and one DFB Cup with the club. He was also a UEFA Champions League finalist in 2013.

Weidenfeller made 453 appearances for Borussia Dortmund's senior team across all competitions, keeping 148 clean sheets. His leadership and longevity with the club are what he will be remembered for.

Weidenfeller hung up his boots in 2018 but remains involved with Borussia Dortmund as an international ambassador.


#2 Samir Handanovic

Inter Milan's Samir Handanovic holds the record for most penalties saved in top-flight history
Inter Milan's Samir Handanovic holds the record for most penalties saved in top-flight history

Samir Handanovic is the first name that comes to mind when talking about underrated goalkeepers. The 6 ft 4 shot-stopper has made a name for himself with his impressive performances for Inter Milan in the last 10 years. However, it was his spell at Udinese that helped him improve his game.

Handanovic has great reflexes and is very agile for a player of his stature. He is one of only four non-Italian keepers to be named Serie A Goalkeeper of the Year, winning the honor three times. He also won the Scudetto with Inter Milan in the 2020-21 campaign.

Handanovic also holds the record for most penalties saved in top-flight history, denying 38 spot-kicks since 2003. He has so far kept 241 clean sheets in 686 appearances for various clubs across all competitions.


#1 Hugo Lloris

Hugo Lloris' lack of silverware with Tottenham Hotspur may be one of the reasons he is often overlooked
Hugo Lloris' lack of silverware with Tottenham Hotspur may be one of the reasons he is often overlooked

A lot of people overlook Hugo Lloris when they talk about the best goalkeepers in the Premier League.

The Frenchman is a traditional goalkeeper who commands his box well and is good in one-on-one situations. He is not the best with the ball at his feet, but his acrobatic capabilities make up for it.

The Nice academy graduate won back-to-back Goalkeeper of the Year awards with Olympique Lyon between 2009 and 2012. However, his lack of silverware with current side Tottenham Hotspur might be one of the reasons why he is often overlooked.

Lloris has kept 230 clean sheets in 680 appearances for Spurs, Lyon and Nice across all competitions. He enjoyed a solid outing in the 2018 FIFA World Cup as he won the tournament with France. He kept three clean sheets during the tournament.

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Edited by Rachel Syiemlieh
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