Top Goalies of All Time (All Sports)

Goalies are defined as players who defend a teammates’ net from the opposition scoring. This is a position in a sport that often determines the winners from the losers.

Listed below are some of the greatest players to do the task on the ice, water, floor, and pitch:

Dallas Eliuk – Lacrosse

Dallas Eliuk was a former goaltender and assistant coach for the National Lacrosse League

After he retired from play, Eliuk coached one season with the Portland LumberJax and two with the Colorado Mammoth.

Dallas played for 18 years ‒ 15 seasons of which he was with the Philadelphia Wings. He then transferred to the LumberJax (per his request), where he played for three seasons. 

Eliuk accomplished the following:

  • Four championships with the Wings
  • Two championship MVP awards
  • Selected to the All-Pro team nine times
  • Retired as the league’s all-time leader in saves.

He is deemed a legend in indoor lacrosse because of his accomplishment, longevity, and unparalleled acrobatic athleticism. He is also widely considered as the best goalie ever to play the game.

Eliuk was drafted into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame in November 2013. Eliuk and Jim Veltman were drafted into the National Lacrosse League Hall of Fame in March 2009.

In January 2005, when the Wings were in Anaheim for a match against the Storm, several team members went to a taping of the game show The Price Is Right. Eliuk was selected to join and won a world-map lithograph, some dinnerware, and an exercise machine. The episode aired on February 11, 2005.

Eliuk married former Radio D.J. Daria O’Neill on December 31, 2007, had their first child named Xander Eliuk was born in May 2009.

Denis Šefik – Water Polo

Denis Šefik was a member of the Serbia and Montenegro team at the 2004 Athens Olympics, where they won the silver medal. He is also a Serbian team member at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where they won bronze.

He competed for the Montenegrin team at the 2012 Summer Olympics, where they came fourth, losing the bronze medal match to Serbia by one point.

He won the Golden Badge award for the best athlete in Serbia and Montenegro in 2004.

Martin Brodeur – Hockey

Martin Pierre Brodeur is a former professional ice hockey goaltender and current team executive. 

He played 22 seasons in the National Hockey League (NHL), 21 of which he played for the New Jersey Devils.

During his time with New Jersey Devils, he won three Stanley Cup championships and five Eastern Conference championships. He also won the Olympic gold medals with Team Canada in the 2002 and 2010 Winter Olympic Games. 

Brodeur is widely regarded as one of the greatest goaltenders of all time. In 2017, he was selected by the league as one of the “100 Greatest NHL Players”, and the following year, he was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Brodeur holds many NHL and franchise records among goaltenders. He ranks as an all-time regular-season leader in wins (691), losses (397), shutouts (125), and games played (1,266). 

He won at least 30 matches in twelve straight seasons between 1995–96 and 2007–08 and is the only goalie in NHL history with eight 40-win seasons. He is a four-time Vezina Trophy winner, a ten-time NHL All-Star, a five-time William M. Jennings Trophy winner, and a Calder Memorial Trophy winner.

He is one of only 12 NHL goaltenders to score a goal in the regular season and only the second to do so in the playoffs. His three goals are the most of any NHL goaltender.

Brodeur used a hybrid style of goaltending by standing up more than typical butterfly style goalies. However, he adapted to more modern techniques at the latter stage of his career. He was recognized for his puck handling, positional play, and reflexes, especially with his glove hand.

Brodeur’s prowess at puck handling was so well known that it led in part to the NHL changing its rules about goalies handling the puck outside of the goal crease. This is now known as “The Brodeur Rule.” 

He announced his retirement in the middle of the 2014–15 season after a brief stint with the St. Louis Blues, having played in seven matches with the team. He is the current executive vice president of business development for the Devils.

Gianluigi Buffon – Soccer

Gianluigi Buffon is an Italian professional footballer who plays as a goalkeeper for Juventus and Serie A.

He is widely regarded as one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time. Buffon owns the record for the longest streak without conceding a goal in Serie A history.

He went triumphant for 974 consecutive minutes throughout the 2015–16 season, achieving the most consecutive clean sheets (10) during that run.

Buffon also holds the record for the cleanest sheets and most appearances in Serie A and the Italy national team. He is one of the several recorded players to have made over 1,000 professional career appearances.

At the club level, Buffon’s professional career began with Parma in 1995, where he made his Serie A debut. He soon broke into the starting line-up and earned a reputation as one of Italy’s most promising young goalkeepers.

After entering Juventus in 2001, Buffon gained Serie A titles in his first two seasons at the club. He also proved himself as one of the best players in the world in his position.

He won a record ten Serie A titles, four Coppa Italia titles, and five Supercoppa Italiana titles. He is the first goalkeeper to win the Serie A Footballer of the Year award. He was also labeled as a Serie A Goalkeeper of the Year a record 12 times.

After making it to the 2015 and 2017 Champions League finals, he was named to the Champions League Squad of the Season on both occasions. He also won the inaugural The Best FIFA Goalkeeper award in the latter year.

After 17 years with Juventus, Buffon signed with French club Paris Saint-Germain at 40 in 2018. During this time, he was used in a rotational role with Alphonse Areola. Nonetheless, he won the Trophée des Champions and the Ligue 1 title in his only season with the team before returning to Juventus the following year.

During the 2019–20 season, he served as a back-up to Wojciech Szczęsny. However, he broke Paolo Maldini’s record of 647 appearances in Serie A and won his record tenth Serie A title.

With 176 international caps, Buffon is the most capped player in the history of the Italy national team, the sixth-most capped footballer of all time (with Hossam Hassan), and the most capped European international player ever.

Buffon also holds the record for Italy’s most appearances as captain after he inherited the armband in 2010.

He was invited for a record of five FIFA World Cup tournaments (1998, 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014) since his debut in 1997. He also represented Italy at four European Championships.

Following his performances during the 2006 FIFA World Cup, where he made a record of five clean sheets, he won the Yashin Award and was elected to be part of the Team of the Tournament. This is an honor which he also earned after leading the quarter-finals of the 2008 European Championship and the 2012 European Championship.

He retired from international football in 2017, following Italy’s failure to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. But he later came out of retirement for the team’s friendlies the following year, before confirming his international retirement in May 2018.

Pelé named Buffon in the FIFA 100 list of the world’s greatest living players in 2004. He is the only goalkeeper to have won the UEFA Club Footballer of the Year award, which he won after reaching the 2003 UEFA Champions League Final. He also won the award for the best goalkeeper that year.

He has also been chosen as part of the UEFA Team of the Year five times. Buffon was the runner-up for the Ballon d’Or in 2006 and has been selected as part of the FIFPro World XI three times. He is the first goalkeeper ever to obtain the Golden Foot Award.

He was named the IFFHS World’s Best Goalkeeper five times, alongside Iker Casillas. And he was also identified as the best goalkeeper of the 21st century, the past 25 years, and the decade.

Hope Solo – Soccer

Hope Amelia Solo is a former American soccer goalkeeper. From 2006 to 2009, she was the goalkeeper for the United States women’s national soccer team.

Other than that, she is a World Cup champion and a two-time Olympic gold medalist. 

After representing as a goalkeeper at the University of Washington collegiate level, she played professionally for the Philadelphia Charge in the Women’s United Soccer Association (WUSA).

When the WUSA wrapped after her first season, she moved to Europe to play for the top division leagues in Sweden and France. From 2009 to 2011, she played as a goalkeeper in the Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) for Saint Louis Athletica, Atlanta Beat, and magicJack.

After the WPS discontinued operations in early 2012, she played for the Seattle Sounders in the W-League. She later played for Seattle Reign FC in the National Women’s Soccer League, the top division of women’s soccer in the United States.

Solo is considered one of the top female goalkeepers globally and currently holds the U.S. record for most career clean sheets.

She was the initial goalkeeper for the majority of the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup. She also helped lead the U.S. national team to the semifinals, yielding only two goals in four games and including three consecutive shutouts.

After a questionable move made by head coach Greg Ryan to bench Solo in favor of veteran goalkeeper Briana Scurry for the semifinals, Solo made headlines with post-game remarks that resulted in many teammates dodging her. She later rebounded to aid the United States to win gold medals at the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics.

During the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup, her outstanding skill was highlighted during a quarter-final match against Brazil. Although the team lost to Japan in a game that resulted in penalties, Solo earned the Golden Glove award for best goalkeeper. She also won the Bronze Ball award for her overall execution at the tournament.

Following her achievement at the 2011 World Cup, Solo joined the television show Dancing with the Stars. She also posed for various magazines, most prominently the “Body Issue” of ESPN The Magazine.

After the 2012 London Olympics, where she received her second Olympic gold medal, she published her bestselling autobiography, Solo: A Memoir of Hope.

As the initial goalkeeper at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, Solo helped the U.S. obtain the national team’s third World Cup championship since 1991. The final was the most-watched televised soccer match ever in the United States.

As of August 6, 2016, Solo keeps several U.S. goalkeeper records, including appearances (202), starts (190), wins (153), consecutive minutes played (1,256), shutouts (102), wins in a season (26), and longest undefeated streak (55 games).

Dominik Hasek – Hockey

Dominik Hašek is a former Czech ice hockey goaltender. Popularly known as one of the greatest goaltenders of all time, Hasek played for the Chicago Blackhawks, Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Red Wings, and the Ottawa Senators

During his years in Buffalo, he became one of the league’s most distinct goaltenders, earning him the nickname “The Dominator.”

His strong play is recognized for building European goaltenders in a league previously overlooked by North Americans. He is also a two-time Stanley Cup champion, both with the Red Wings.

Hašek was one of the league’s most promising goaltenders of the 1990s and early 2000s.

From 1993 to 2001, he obtained six Vezina Trophies, the most under the award’s current voting system for the best individual goalie. In 1998 he won his second back-to-back Hart Memorial Trophy, becoming the first goaltender to win the prize many times.

During the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, he headed the Czech national ice hockey team to its first and only Olympic gold medal. The feat made him a beloved figure in his home country and mentioned hockey legend Wayne Gretzky to call him “the best player in the game.”

While with the Red Wings in 2002, Hašek became the first European-trained initial goaltender to win the Stanley Cup. In the process, he established a record for shutouts in a postseason year.

Hašek was considered an unorthodox goaltender, with a distinct style that labeled him a “flopper.” He was best known for his concentration, foot speed, flexibility, and unconventional saves. This includes covering the puck with his blocker rather than his trapper.

Hašek holds the highest record in career save percentage. He is also the seventh-highest when it comes to goals against average at 2.202. He also has the third-highest single-season save percentage (0.9366 in 1998–99).

Hašek is the only goalie to handle the most shots per 60 minutes and have the highest save percentage in one season. He did it twice while he’s with the Sabres (1996 and 1998).

At the time of his retirement, he was the oldest playing goalie in the NHL at 43, and the second-oldest active player in the league after Red Wings teammate Chris Chelios, who was 46. He announced his retirement in June 2008 but made a comeback in April 2009. This is after he settled a contract with HC Pardubice of the Czech Extraliga.

On June 7, 2010, he signed with Spartak Moscow of the KHL and performed the last season of his career. Hašek announced his retirement on October 9, 2012.

Hašek was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on November 17, 2014. He is also a member of the Czech Ice Hockey Hall of Fame and the IIHF Hall of Fame. His number was retired by the Sabres and HC Pardubice.

Bob Watson – Lacrosse

Bob “Whipper” Watson is a former goaltender for the Toronto Rock in the National Lacrosse League. He is regarded as one of the best goaltenders ever to play indoor lacrosse. 

Watson won six NLL Championships with the Rock and selected Championship Game MVP in 2003 and 2011. Watson was elected NLL Goaltender of the Year in 2001 and again in 2008.

After 13 years in Toronto and accomplishing 6 Championships, Watson chose to retire to dedicate his time to family and a new job with the Waterloo Regional Police Service.

Watson contemplated retirement after the 2010 season when the Rock lost to the Washington Stealth in the Championship match. But he later decided to come back for one more season.

Mid-way into the 2011 season, Watson announced that it would be his last in the NLL. The Rock gained it back to the Championship, and in his final NLL game, Watson was selected Championship Game MVP for the second time.

Bob Watson was the only 2011 draftee into the NLL Hall of Fame. He earned 86% of the Hall entry votes, the only player that year to surpass the mandatory 75%. He was the third goaltender to be entered into the NLL Hall of Fame.

Manon Rhéaume – Hockey

One of the best female goaltenders ever to hit the ice, Rhéaume has helped shape Canada’s future generation of female goaltenders. Thanks to her performance at the 1998 Olympics.

Winning Silver then, she also won a few Gold medals at the IIHF World Women’s Championships.

Rhéaume’s career has been nothing but impressive. She became the first female to join an NHL game, playing two exhibition games with the Tampa Bay Lightning. She is a big role model for females in hockey.

Rhéaume played for the Sherbrooke Jofa-Titan team in the League Régionale du Hockey au Féminin in the province of Québec. She was the first female goaltender to compete for a boys’ team in the 1984 Quebec International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament.

Rhéaume was contracted to the Trois-Rivières Draveurs in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, for the 1991–92 season. This made her the first woman to participate in a men’s Major Junior hockey game.

In 1992, Rhéaume ventured for the Tampa Bay Lightning; this was the first time a woman tried out for an NHL team. She played one season in an exhibition game against the St. Louis Blues, yielding two goals on nine shots. She also played in another exhibition game versus the Boston Bruins in 1993.

Also in 1992, Rhéaume was chosen for the Canada national women’s ice hockey team. She won gold medals at the 1992 and 1994 IIHF Women’s World Championships and was selected to the All-Star team both years. She got the silver medal at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano.

In 1992, Rhéaume was hired by the Atlanta Knights of the International Hockey League (IHL). Her initial appearance against the Salt Lake Golden Eagles recorded the first time a woman appeared in a regular-season professional game.

She played for seven various teams between 1992 and 1997, including Atlanta, the Knoxville Cherokees, Nashville Knights, the Las Vegas Aces, the Tallahassee Tiger Sharks, Las Vegas Thunder, and the Reno Renegades, performing in a total of 24 games.

While in Atlanta, Rhéaume penned her autobiography, Manon: Alone in Front of the Net. She retired from professional hockey in 1997.

Lev Yashin – Soccer

Lev Ivanovich Yashin, also known as the “Black Spider” and the “Black Panther,” was a Soviet professional footballer. He is recognized by many as the most outstanding goalkeeper in the history of the sport. 

He was also known for his athleticism, positioning, stature, bravery, commanding presence in goal, and acrobatic reflex saves. No wonder he became the assistant chairman of the Football Federation of the Soviet Union.

Yashin earned his status for revolutionizing the goalkeeping position by imposing his authority on the entire defense. A vocal appearance in goal, he shouted orders at his defenders, came off his line to intercept crosses, and also ran out to meet onrushing attackers. 

His performances made an unforgettable impression on a global audience at the 1958 World Cup. He dressed head to toe in apparent black (which is actually dark blue), earning his nickname the “Black Spider.”

Yashin appeared in four World Cups from 1958 to 1970, and in 2002 was elected on the FIFA Dream Team of the history of World Cups. In 1994, Yashin was selected for the FIFA World Cup All-Time Team. And in 1998, he was chosen as a member of the World Team of the 20th Century. 

According to FIFA, Yashin defended over 150 penalty kicks in professional football. He also kept more than 270 clean sheets during his career. He also earned a gold medal at the 1956 Olympic football tournament and the 1960 European Championships. 

In 1963, Yashin earned the Ballon d’Or, the only goalkeeper ever to receive the award. He was chosen as the best goalkeeper of the 20th century by the IFFHS.

Patrick Roy – Hockey

Patrick Jacques Roy is a retired Canadian professional ice hockey goaltender. He was the head coach and vice-president of hockey operations for the Colorado Avalanche of the National Hockey League (NHL).

Currently, he serves as the general manager and head coach of the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL).

He is regarded as one of the most renowned goaltenders of all time. In 2017 Roy was labeled one of the ‘100 Greatest NHL Players’ in history.

Nicknamed “Saint Patrick,” Roy divided his playing career in the NHL between the Montreal Canadiens and the Avalanche. Roy acquired four Stanley Cups during his career, two with each franchise.

In 2004, Roy was selected as the most outstanding goaltender in NHL history by a panel of 41 writers, united with a recent fan poll. On November 13, 2006, Roy was drafted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. He is the only goalie in NHL history to win the Conn Smythe Trophy, which is awarded to the most worthy player in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Roy is credited for popularizing the butterfly style of goaltending. It has since become the dominant style of goaltending around the world.

Before stepping down in the 2016 off-season, Roy had been the Avalanche’s head coach since the 2013–14 season. During this time, he acquired the Jack Adams Award as the NHL’s best coach.

Roy’s number 33 jersey is withdrawn by both the Canadiens and Avalanche. 

Final Thoughts

Goalies are deemed to stop goals, not score them. But frequently, goalies get the chance to be offensive stars. Thus, putting themselves front and center for a highlight goal even as they prevent anyone from scoring on them.

Sometimes, those goals are just flukes. Other times, they’re the product of freakishly athletic netminders who can not only stave off attackers but dish out a little pain of their own.

Best of all: They’re humble.

Goalies don’t usually celebrate too much when they score. They are keenly aware of the embarrassment that comes when they let one get by. But the crowd loves them.

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