Goalkeeping is an entirely different sport itself to the rest of football, but even with it being such a unique discipline, not all ‘keepers can crack the art of penalty saving.
It’s one of the many reasons why the position itself feels so incredibly separated from the other 10 on the pitch.
As a result, those who develop a knack for stopping spot kicks – often regarded as pot-luck for the longest time – can develop a bit of a reputation and boost their stock from that alone.
Teams can only really have one number-one goalkeeper, but if you can find a way to slot a penalty expert into the roster as well as having a top-class first choice, you’re onto a winner.
We’ve identified some of the goalkeepers who were and are strangely brilliant at saving penalties, in honour of those weirdos that opt to play such a position.
The American keeper has had a unique entry into the game in general, playing his first two seasons in the United States in a division below the MLS, not really boasting much of a successful collegiate career and generally earning a reputation as a late bloomer.
But what a late bloomer he has been. Turner was excellent for the USMNT at his first World Cup in 2022 and has gone from strength to strength since breaking through in MLS and later signing for Arsenal. He’s now saved 14 of the 29 penalties he’s faced in his career thus far; that’s 48% success rate.
Forty-eight. For a skill put down to luck by way too many people, the 29-year-old’s luck is certainly up.
Arsenal's Matt Turner went crazy in a penalty shootout for the USMNT, saving two efforts to send them through to the Gold Cup semi-final.
That's now 14 saves from 29 penalties faced. The Gunners have an expert on their hands.pic.twitter.com/hrc9vngNWL
— Planet Football (@planetfutebol) July 10, 2023
The way Turner is going, he’s on track to better Samir Handanovic’s absurd penalty-saving rate.
Handanovic was long regarded as one of the most reliable stoppers in European football during his peak and has enjoyed impressive longevity, but what really stands out is his record with spot kicks.
He’s saved an astonishing 43 penalties so far throughout his career, having faced 82, per Transfermarkt. There’s no luck in that; just pure skill.
A Serie A veteran at this point, Italian goalkeeper Consigli has quietly put together a commendable career in his nation’s top flight.
Not only that, he’s weirdly good at saving penalties, too; Consgli once saved two in one half of football back in 2012.
In fact, he’s racked up the third most penalty saves in Serie A history. A name you wouldn’t ever think to consider.
The 2014 World Cup. That is all.
For a goalkeeper with an unusually small frame, the fact Casillas managed to carve out a career as one of the very best ever is incredible in itself.
But it’s even more impressive knowing how good he was at saving penalties, especially as someone who didn’t exactly fill the goal like other behemoths that dominated the position.
He retired in 2020 having saved the most penalties in Champions League history.
From one end of the spectrum to the other, it’s no surprise that Neuer features here.
The German giant excels at pretty much every part of goalkeeping and has been arguably the best of the 21st Century. Imagine having to step up and slot a ball home from 12 yards and seeing that absolute unit filling the goal?
Yeah, no thanks.
A relatively run-of-the-mill goalkeeper who didn’t make much of a splash even at his peak, Alves boasts a weirdly strong penalty record.
The Brazilian has 28 penalty saves to his name and probably won’t make too many more now aged 38 and a free agent, but could well hang up his gloves with a reputation as one of the strongest from spot kicks in the game.
Exactly the type of goalkeeper you’d hate to face in an awkward European away tie.
The legendary Italian is obviously one of the best for his all-round ability and longevity, but as a result of that, his penalty-saving skills fly under the radar.
A stopper that relied heavily on his IQ and immense reading of the game, it’s not really a surprise that he excelled at spot-kicks when you apply logic such as that.
Buffon has saved a total of 39 penalties to date, per Transfermarkt.
A Compilation of Gigi Buffon Penalty Saves
— My Greatest 11 (@MyGreatest11) January 27, 2023
Finishing up in France, Costil is a ‘keeper whose career hasn’t set the world alight, but does involve a strong history of saving penalties.
Similarly to Alves, the unassuming Frenchman is exactly that type of stopper who shows up on a cagey European night, completely unheard of, but transforms into prime Lev Yashin.