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Jan 6, 2011

The FA Cup's Greatest Goalkeepers

ESPNsoccernet will be taking you through the season with a series of FA Cup features detailing the highlights of the competition's long and proud history. Here, we look at those goalkeepers who have left their mark on the competition.

• Vote for your FA Cup all-time best XI
• FA Cup's Greatest Giant-killings
• Rewind: Radford slays Newcastle
• FA Cup memories
• FA Cup LIVE on ESPN

Bert Trautmann (Manchester City)

A former Luftwaffe paratrooper and World War II prisoner of war, Trautmann started his career in English football with St Helens after declining to return to Germany following the end of hostilities, and 20,000 protested against Manchester City's decision to hand him a contract. However, he repaid the club handsomely with his sterling service, no more so than in the 1956 FA Cup final when, with City leading 3-1 after 73 minutes, he threw himself at the feet of Birmingham's Peter Murphy and was knocked unconscious. Trautmann played on, making a number of saves, and only later realised he had broken his neck. "I still have pain if I make unexpected movements of my head," he told The Guardian in April. "But I was very lucky: surgeons told me I could have died or been paralysed." Instead he became a City legend, the first goalkeeper and foreigner to win the Footballer of the Year award and, in 2004, a recipient of an OBE.

Jim Montgomery (Sunderland)

Ian Porterfield gave Second Division side Sunderland a surprise lead against Don Revie's fearsome Leeds United in the 1973 final and the holders were frustrated by a succession of saves from Montgomery, who would go on to become the club's record appearance holder with 623 games. However, one double save in particular transfixed Wembley. Montgomery parried Trevor Cherry's header before then denying Peter Lorimer's follow-up with a quite astounding diving save, somehow tipping the ball onto the underside of the bar. The stop was so unlikely that BBC commentator David Coleman even declared: "And Lorimer makes it one each!" He didn't, and one of the great FA Cup shocks had been achieved.

Gary Bailey (Manchester United)

Replacing the great Alex Stepney was a daunting task for Bailey and his first taste of an FA Cup final was tinged with bitter disappointment in 1979 when he failed to claim a cross, allowing Arsenal's Alan Sunderland to score a dramatic late winner in a famous 3-2 win. However, Bailey made amends four years later. After Gary Stevens scored a late equaliser for Brighton to ensure the final of that year would finish 2-2 after 90 minutes and require extra time, the underdogs almost stole the trophy only seconds before the end of the match when Gordon Smith raced through on goal. "And Smith must score!" commentator Peter Jones shouted, but Bailey produced a magnificent save to take the game to a replay, which United won 4-0 on May 26. Two years later, he was on the winning side once more when Everton were defeated 1-0 at Wembley.

Ray Clemence (Liverpool and Tottenham)

One of a select band of players who have appeared in at least five FA Cup finals, Clemence won the trophy with both Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur in a long and glittering career. His halcyon days undoubtedly came at Liverpool, where he secured five league titles, three European Cups and the FA Cup of 1974, when Newcastle were dispatched 3-0 in the final. Clemence later said: "To win it was a special moment." Though he was powerless to prevent Arsenal securing the Double in 1971, and was also beaten in 1977 by Manchester United, Clemence enjoyed further success following a move to Tottenham when Queens Park Rangers were beaten in a replay in the 1981-82 season, his first at the club. Clemence's final full season ended with a third defeat in the final at the hands of Coventry City.

Bruce Grobbelaar (Liverpool)

Signed from Vancouver Whitecaps for a fee of £250,000 by Bob Paisley in March 1981, the eccentric Zimbabwean was an unlikely replacement for Clemence but quickly set about making his own mark on the history of Liverpool. Grobbelaar was in goal when Liverpool beat local rivals Everton in the final in 1986, famously berating team-mate Jim Beglin, and repeated the feat three years later in a final that was held in the wake of the Hillsborough disaster in which 96 Liverpool supporters lost their lives. Grobbelaar collected his third winner's medal when Sunderland were beaten 2-0 in 1992, but he was also on the receiving end of one of the great FA Cup shocks four years previously.

Dave Beasant (Wimbledon)

The Crazy Gang had developed quite a reputation for uncompromising play having emerged from non-league football just 11 years earlier, but few expected them to beat an imperious Liverpool side - recently crowned champions - in the final in 1988. Intimidated in the tunnel, rattled by an early thumping tackle from Vinnie Jones on Steve McMahon and 1-0 down following a goal from Lawrie Sanchez, Liverpool were handed a chance to draw level in the second half when winning a penalty. But John Aldridge, having scored 11 spot-kicks in a row for the Reds, saw Beasant throw himself to his left and turn the ball around the post. Beasant was the first man to save a penalty in an FA Cup final and the first goalkeeper to win the trophy as captain. It was quite an achievement for a side that enjoyed a night on the booze on the eve of the game.

Neville Southall (Everton)

Everton's record appearance holder was a giant figure in the club's success in the 1980s, winning the FA Cup for the first time in 1984 when Watford were beaten 2-0 at Wembley thanks to goals from Graeme Sharp and Andy Gray. A man capable of regular spectacular saves, Southall was the proof of Howard Kendall's theory that "you never win trophies without an outstanding goalkeeper" as he went on to help a relegation-threatened side defeat Manchester United in the 1995 final, with Paul Rideout scoring the winning goal at Wembley.

David Seaman (Arsenal)

The Arsenal legend won the FA Cup on four occasions with the Gunners. Under George Graham in 1993, Seaman contributed to Arsenal's double cup success over Sheffield Wednesday, while he was the goalkeeper of choice as Arsene Wenger secured two league and cup Doubles in 1998 and 2002. His 564th and final game for the club was a 1-0 victory over Southampton in the final of 2003 as he captained the side in the absence of Patrick Vieira, but it was the semi-final of that season that produced Seaman's defining moment in the competition. With Arsenal leading Sheffield United 1-0, Seaman produced a truly awe-inspiring save to deny Paul Peschisolido. Seemingly suspended in mid-air, he appeared to be acting out a scene from The Matrix when shooting out his right arm and clawing the ball off the line. Seaman "defied time and gravity", according to The Guardian.

Peter Schmeichel (Manchester United)

Quite simply the greatest goalkeeper in Premier League history, Schmeichel was a colossus for United, a man who inspired Sir Alex Ferguson to say that "I don't believe a better goalkeeper played the game". Winning the competition in 1994, 1996 and, of course, in the historic Treble year of 1999, Schmeichel made an indelible mark on the history of a great club. However, like Seaman before him, his defining performance in the competition came in a semi-final. With the score poised at 1-1 against Arsenal in 1999, United conceded a late penalty. If converted by Dennis Bergkamp, United's Treble dream would surely have died. However, Schmeichel repelled the spot-kick, allowing Ryan Giggs to steal the show, and the match, with a quite brilliant winner in extra-time. The great Bergkamp never took another penalty; Schmeichel went on to captain United in their Champions League final victory over Bayern Munich in Barcelona.

Petr Cech (Chelsea)

Seven months prior to his first appearance in an FA Cup final - a 1-0 victory over Manchester United in 2007 - Petr Cech was undergoing emergency surgery following a horrendous skull injury suffered in a clash against Reading. But he turned in an accomplished performance in the first final to be held at the new Wembley to mark his brave return from serious injury. Cech subsequently won the competition in 2009, defeating Everton, and 2010 - when he emulated Dave Beasant by saving a penalty from Portsmouth's Kevin-Prince Boateng. It is no wonder he says: "I love playing in the FA Cup."

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