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The 10 greatest England goalkeepers

Over the years England have been blessed with some of the world’s best keepers, with some regarded as the greatest of all time by the likes of Pele.

Joe Hart has been one of the top keepers at Euro 2012, but where does he rank alongside the greats of the past? Here is a countdown of the finest to wear the Three Lions badge.

10 – Joe Hart

Joe Hart has only been on the England international radar for a shot amount of time, but within that time he has made a big name for himself.

Hart has now made more than 20 appearances for his country and has kept plenty of clean sheets, including that vital one against the Ukraine in this year’s Euros.

The current England shot stopper did not feature in the 2010 World Cup, but has been an England regular ever since, even being backed to be England captain by some pundits and players.

Hart has been praised for his strong performances in the England squad, along with a positive image off the pitch, and has had a good tournament.

His performances at this year’s European Championships have established the 25-year-old as the best England keeper in recent years.

9 – Nigel Martyn

Martyn debuted for England in 1992 but spent most of his career as understudy to first choice goalkeeper David Seaman.

Despite this, Martyn still accumulated 23 caps, making him the eleventh most capped English keeper ever.

Twelve of his 23 appearances were clean sheets, giving the England keeper the eighth highest clean sheet record for goalkeepers to date.

The timing of Martyn’s career is a great shame, as in other eras of English football he would have walked right into the starting role and achieved far more international caps.

8 – Paul Robinson

With 41 appearances to his name, Paul Robinson is the 7th most capped England goalkeeper ever.

Robinson’s finest hour as England keeper came at the 2006 World Cup in Germany after replacing David James as England’s first choice goalkeeper.

Robinson had great form at the tournament, keeping an impressive four clean sheets in five games, but his fine World Cup performance came undone at the hands of Portugal in a quarter-final penalty shootout, which England lost 3-1.

Following the World Cup Robinson was plagued by errors, including the infamous Gary Neville back pass against Croatia and the mistake which gifted Germany an opening goal in England’s first loss at the new Wembley.

7 – David James

Fifth most capped keeper David James made his first appearance for the England senior team in a friendly against Mexico in 1997.

Euro 2004 saw James start his first major international competition as first choice keeper, keeping one clean sheet at the tournament with England eventually going out on penalties to Portugal in the quarter-finals.

England legends Gordon Banks and David Seaman both backed James to be first choice keeper at the 2010 World Cup.

James replaced Green as England’s number one at the tournament. He went on to keep two clean sheets against Algeria and Slovakia while becoming the oldest ever World Cup debutant and the oldest player at that year’s tournament.

James started in the 4-1 loss to Germany which eliminated England from the tournament.

6 – Chris Woods

Woods often found himself the second choice to the brilliant Peter Shilton in his international career, but that didn’t stop him from making a name for himself as a great keeper.

He played sporadically for England from his debut in 1985 until 1992, when he was selected to be the first choice keeper at that year’s European Championships.

Woods succeeded Shilton despite stiff competition from the promising David Seaman.

At the 1992 Euros Woods kept two clean sheets, but despite his strong performances England were unable to score until the final group game, which they lost to Sweden 2-1, knocking them out of the tournament.

In Woods’ international career he kept 26 clean sheets, the fifth best of any England keeper, and accumulated 43 caps.

5 – Ron Springett

Springett’s international career included 33 caps and four World Cup appearances. He was the first choice England keeper at the 1962 World Cup in Chile.

That year England reached the quarter-finals, with Springett keeping one clean sheet against Bulgaria along the way, but were knocked out by eventual winners Brazil.

Four years later Springett was also part of the 1966 World Cup winning team, but he didn’t make a single appearance.

Springett has the lowest amount of clean sheets of anyone on this list, but his number of caps and the importance of some of his appearances make him a true England great.

4 – Ray Clemence

Clemence made his debut for England in a 1972 World Cup qualifier win over Wales. This game also saw Clemence achieve his first international clean sheet.

Between 1972 and 1984 Clemence and Peter Shilton had the first choice keeper role alternated between them.

In 12 years as a regular member of the England squad, Clemence accumulated 61 appearances and kept 27 clean sheets.

Clemence never represented England as a first choice goalkeeper at a World Cup, but was part of England’s 1982 World Cup squad.

He was also first choice keeper at the disappointing 1980 Euro campaign and started two games, a win and a draw.

Clemence was awarded an MBE for his services to football.

3 – David Seaman

Seaman’s international career saw the ex-Arsenal star become the second most capped England keeper ever, as well as keep the second most clean sheets; both behind Peter Shilton.

Seaman kept two clean sheets in his debut World Cup in 1998, where England reached the round of 16 against Argentina, losing on penalties, despite saving Hernan Crespo’s penalty in the shootout.

Four years later in Japan and Korea, Seaman also kept two clean sheets in the group stages and another in the round of 16, before being caught out by a Ronaldinho free kick from long range, which eliminated England from the tournament.

Seaman debuted for the England side in 1988 and went on to set a national record of 15 years of consecutive appearances.

2 – Peter Shilton

From a statistical standpoint Shilton is arguably the greatest England goalkeeper of all time.

Shilton has 50 more appearances and 26 more clean sheets than David Seaman. He boasts a clean sheet percentage of 52.8%.

With 125 appearances, Shilton is the most capped English international football player ever, featuring at three World Cups with 17 appearances within those competitions, another English record.

Shilton was part of the 1990 World Cup squad that went through to the semi-finals before losing on penalties to West Germany, finally finishing fourth in the third place playoff against hosts Italy.

Following the infamous Maradona ‘Hand of God’ incident in the 1986 World Cup, Shilton went on to set a record 10 clean sheets, which has since only been matched by Frenchman Fabien Barthez.

1 – Gordon Banks

Widely regarded as one of the best goalkeepers to ever play football, Banks (pictured) is undoubtedly the number one for England.

Making his World Cup debut in 1966, keeping three clean sheets in the group stage and another against Argentina in the quarter final, Banks was a key component of the World Cup winning team.

Banks had a natural flare for stopping shots like no other. Many at that year’s tournament were awed by his abilities.

He failed to make it five clean sheets from five games only because of an unstoppable Portuguese penalty, but his side still went through to win the tournament.

Following the incredible World Cup win, Banks was involved in the 1970 World Cup four years later, making one of the finest saves ever to stop a Pele header.

Unfortunately he could not continue his international heroics as an illness put him out of the quarter final match against West Germany, which England lost.

Banks has 73 caps for England, the third most of any England goalkeeper, and 35 clean sheets.

Banks holds the England record for most clean sheets in a row, with seven, the most consecutive internationals without a defeat and, most importantly, is the only English goalkeeper to ever win a World Cup.

By Sam Fry

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