A common stereotype about goalkeepers is that they’re a little on the crazy side. However, these five guys, the best at the position, will have to stay level-headed if they want to lead their nations to European glory this summer.
5. Joe Hart, England- The Manchester City stopper has progressed incredibly in the past two seasons, morphing into the Three Lions’ number one choice at goalkeeper this summer. Man City’s title run may have been a pipe dream if not for the heroics of the 25-year old this campaign. Hart has been the winner of the Barclays Golden Glove (given to the goalkeeper with the most clean sheets in the Premiership) for the past two seasons. England does not have the most powerful squad in EURO 2012 and will need an amazing run of form from Hart if the nation looks to advance past the quarterfinals.
4. Gianluigi Buffon, Italy- Juventus won its first Scudetto (Serie A champion) in nine years thanks in part to a stout defense (anchored by Giorgio Chiellini and Andrea Barzagli) and of course, another incredible season from the native of Carrara in net. Buffon, 34, conceded 16 goals in 35 games, a startling record. Unfortunately, the Italians have suffered a setback as Barzagli will be out for at least the group stage with a calf injury. The 2006 world champions, known for their defense, have their work cut out for them defensively this summer, and Buffon will be the man to hold it down for the Azzuri.
3. Petr Cech, Czech Republic- Cech had an incredible domestic campaign for Chelsea, securing the FA Cup with an incredible stop on Andy Carroll and keeping out a combined three penalties in the Champions League final for the Blues. The 30-year old keeper will look to continue his blistering form at the EUROs, where his nation is among the weaker sides in the tournament. Any hope for the Czechs to make it out of the group stage relies on this man’s shot-stopping ability.
2. Manuel Neuer, Germany- Neuer has practically exploded onto the world football scene, using his 2010-11 season for Schalke 04 to catapault him to superstardom. Purchased by Bayern Munich in the summer of 2011, the 26-year old Neuer had an exception season for his club, putting on a show all the way to the Champions League final: even scoring a penalty in the final’s shootout. He is probably the world’s most acrobatic keeper, as he is capable of pulling dynamic reflex saves. Having won the 2009 U-21 European Championship with the Germans, Neuer is looking to win a similar title on the senior level.
1. Iker Casillas, Spain- The man they call San (Saint) Iker is Spain’s most capped player, having made 130 appearances since his debut in 2000 as a mere 19-year old. The captain of La Furia Roja since the latter stages of the 2006 World Cup, Casillas is coming off a league title with Real Madrid and also happens to be the goalkeeper of the reigning World Cup (2010) and European (2008) champions. As Spain looks to pull off an unprecedented treble of international titles, Casillas will be the man in net, looking to continue the magic of the last four years.