Shilton, Buffon, Banks vs. Pele among World Cup's greatest ever saves
This article has been edited and first appeared on ESPN FC on May 30, 2014.
While the World Cup is mostly memorable for the goals and brilliant moments of skill it produces, it has also seen the finest goalkeeping football has to offer.
Here are 10 of the best saves from down the years ...
10. Peter Shilton, England vs. Cameroon, 1990
England's World Cup team from 1990 is often romanticised -- and with good reason -- but it's easy to forget that they were pretty lucky to reach the semifinals. From an uninspiring group phase in which they only won one game, against Egypt, to the 120th-minute winner against Belgium in the second round, to the quarterfinal against Cameroon. It's an old cliche but if that game was a boxing match, it would have been stopped well before full-time as Cameroon absolutely battered England to the point that progression for Bobby Robson's men almost seemed unfair. However, just as important as David Platt's header or Gary Lineker's two penalties was Peter Shilton's performance in goal. Shilton was a little over the hill by 1990 as his lack of mobility caused problems at various points, but he was excellent that day, making a number of fine saves, and the one he picked out as the most crucial was a block from Francois Omam-Biyik after his defence had been quite comprehensively sliced apart. Shilton rushed out, didn't allow Omam-Biyik to settle and smothered the shot superbly. For England's sake it was a good job he did, because things could have gone downhill pretty quickly had he not been on alert.
9. Gianluigi Buffon, Italy vs. Germany, 2006
The 2006 semifinal between Italy and Germany was an utterly extraordinary affair, with an entire nation willing the home side on, only to be denied by a remarkable denouement as goals from Fabio Grosso and Alessandro del Piero sent the Italians through to the final. However, that pair wouldn't have been able to do their thing had it not been for Gigi Buffon, so often Italy's saviour. Lukas Podolski advanced from the German left -- seemingly not in an ideal position to launch a particularly fearsome shot -- but launch one he did, fired with power, dip and swerve, seemingly heading for the net. However, Buffon flung up an arm and flicked the ball over, setting Grosso and Del Piero up for that remarkable climax.
8. Ubaldo Fillol, Argentina vs. Netherlands, 1978
Argentina were favourites to win the 1978 World Cup final on home turf against Netherlands, but it was nonetheless a tight game that required extra time. Indeed, while the goals from Mario Kempes won them the title, a superb performance from Fillol in the Argentina goal was just as important, not least an outstanding reaction save from Johnny Rep, flinging an arm in the way of the Dutchman's powerful effort from close range.
7. Oliver Kahn, Germany vs. USA, 2002
As the only goalkeeper to ever win the Golden Ball for the best player at a World Cup, it would be remiss not to include any of Kahn's efforts from 2002. Probably the best was a diving, fingertip, full-length effort from Landon Donovan in the quarterfinals, a game in which Germany just edged a 1-0 win. Michael Ballack scored the goal, but as with most of Germany's efforts in the knockout stages of that tournament, Kahn's performance was just as important, if not more so than any goal scorer. It's just a shame that his errors in the final contributed to Germany's defeat to Brazil.
6. Dino Zoff, Italy vs. Brazil, 1982
Only three goalkeepers have ever captained their sides to a World Cup win. Gianpiero Combi was the first in 1934, Iker Casillas the third in 2010 and between them was Zoff in 1982. It was fairly remarkable that Italy even got beyond the first round in Spain, such was the turmoil in the squad and indeed Italian football, and having jumped that particular hurdle it seemed certain they would fall at the second as they faced Brazil and Argentina. However, Italy pulled off the shock of the tournament, beating a Brazilian side many consider to be the best never to win the World Cup, and while obviously Paolo Rossi's hat trick was of course the primary reason for the victory, Zoff's brilliance wasn't far behind. The pick of his saves that day was one from Zico, who powered a header from an Eder free kick low and toward the corner of the goal, which Zoff somehow got down to keep out. The Brazilians protested, claiming the ball had gone over the line although it very clearly hadn't, their anguish most likely born from disbelief rather than a genuine claim for a goal.
5. Rinat Dasaev, USSR vs. Scotland, 1982
It says plenty about Russian keeper Dasaev that he isn't out of place when talked about in the same breath as Lev Yashin. Dasaev was the USSR keeper in the 1982 World Cup when they faced Scotland, who had quite a team that year -- indeed, with Graeme Souness, Alan Hansen, Kenny Dalglish, John Wark and John Robertson in their squad, one could make an argument that this was the strongest Scotland side of all time. In the final group game of the 1982 World Cup, Scotland needed to beat the Russians to progress, having lost to Brazil in the previous game, but they could only manage a 2-2 draw, thanks in large part to Dasaev. The Russian keeper produced perhaps his finest moment with a save from a Joe Jordan diving header, flinging himself full to his left to tip the effort around the post, which in the finest traditions of this sort of thing, looked absolutely certain to be heading for the corner of the net.
4. Lev Yashin, USSR vs. Chile, 1962
In the list of the greatest players never to win the World Cup, Yashin ranks pretty high. Yashin won numerous Russian titles, the 1960 European Championship and remains the only goalkeeper to ever win the Ballon d'Or. At 6-foot-2 he wasn't excessively tall for a keeper, but his mere presence must have made any goal look much smaller, as was perhaps the case for one of his finest saves, in the quarterfinals of the 1962 tournament against hosts Chile. Young Chilean forward Honorino Landa latched on to a through-ball from a counterattack and advanced on Yashin, who didn't rush out and instead chose to wait, wait, wait. When Landa fired his shot toward goal, the man known as the Black Panther dived low to his right and beat the ball away with one of those massive paws.
3. Iker Casillas, Spain vs. Netherlands, 2010
The 2010 final was, like many before it, not an especially inspiring affair. Chances were few and fouls were all over the place, but when Wesley Sneijder opened up the Spain defence with a perfect through-ball for Arjen Robben, it looked like the chance to break up the tedium and violence. Robben opened his body, measured his shot, side-footed the ball toward the goal and the world waited for the net to bulge, only for it to fly wide. It was one of those occasions when a replay truly was required to work out exactly what had happened, and when the replay came, it showed Casillas stick out a desperate leg to deflect the ball wide and save the World Cup for his team. The save haunts Robben to this day (he described potentially facing Spain in Brazil 2014 as "a second chance to beat Casillas"), while Casillas admits there was an element of fortune to the whole thing. "Watching it again still gives me shivers," he said in 2013. "I held out for as long as I could and got my right toe to his shot to steer it wide, I was lucky."
2. Gordon Banks, England vs. Brazil, 1970
In truth, Banks keeping out Pele's header in the 1970 World Cup is probably a little overrated in that it is routinely described as the best save of all time, when numerous keepers down the years have made stops of at least equal skill. But still, it was undoubtedly a magnificent effort by Banks, twisting and backpedalling to reach Pele's powerful downward header and scooping it over the bar -- although the man himself has admitted that he had no idea where the ball was going after he got to it. "Wherever I go people bring that up all the time," Banks said in 2013. "After all these years I cannot believe people still talk about it. Even kids. I get letters from kids in China. Even they're talking about it. After I got my hand to it, I thought it was going in. I didn't know where it had gone. Then I saw it bounce behind the goal." And while any words that spring from Pele's mouth should be treated with a degree of scepticism given his tendency to say whatever the person he's addressing wants to hear, he seemed quite impressed. "From the moment I headed it, I was sure it had gone in," he said in 2008, at an unveiling of a statue commemorating Banks. "After I headed the ball, I had already began to jump to celebrate the goal. Then I looked back and I couldn't believe it hadn't gone in. I have scored more than 1,000 goals in my life and the thing people always talk to me about is the one I didn't score."
1. Toni Turek, West Germany vs. Hungary, 1954
Trying to explain a miracle is a tricky business. One could come up with any number of reasons for the Miracle of Bern, when West Germany somehow beat the great Hungary side in the final of the 1954 World Cup -- from Ferenc Puskas' injury, to a potentially iffy disallowed goal in the closing stages, to pure luck. However, up there among the best reasons is the performance of German goalkeeper Turek, who had a magnificent game between the sticks, keeping out numerous Hungarian attacks, the best of which probably came from Nandor Hidegkuti. A ball was lifted into the box, it was flicked on at the near post for Hidegkuti arriving at the far and he powered a volley that seemed certain to go in. Turek not only somehow got a hand to it, but enough of a hand to send it over the bar. Hungary winger Zoltan Czibor was celebrating a goal from the instant it left Hidegkuti's boot, only to be denied by what a German journalist described as an act of God. He later recanted.
Nick Miller is a writer for ESPN FC, covering Premier League and European football. Follow him on Twitter @NickMiller79.