The goalkeeper is the most specialized, and in many respects, the most important position on a soccer pitch. While in a good team a goalkeeper may only see a few seconds of action and only have a couple of saves to make in each game, many managers still regard it as the most crucial position to get right. A top save is as good as a goal for any team, and having a reliable 'keeper between the sticks breathes confidence into a defense and throughout the team.
Given the the Premier League, since its inception in 1992, has been widely regarded as one of - if not the - strongest league in the world, it has been blessed with some truly top class goalkeepers. The likes of Peter Schmeichel, Petr Cech and Edwin van der Saar are just some of the world class goalkeepers that have graced England's top flight.
The Premier League is also known as being the more wide open league. Often times, defending gets sloppy and a heavier emphasis is placed on finding goals. This makes the job of a goalkeeper in the Premier League all the more crucial. It gives a significant edge to the club with the stronger keeper.
The combination of physicality and technical ability in the league means that Premier League goalkeepers must have a more solid all-round game than most. It is not enough to be a good shot-stopper, one must also be vocal, dominant in aerial situations and capable of accurate distribution of the ball. So lets look at some people who were none of those things. Here are the top 15 worst goalkeepers in Premier League history:
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15 Vince Bartram
Arsenal fans were grateful that David Seaman was rarely out injured, given that Vince Bartram was his understudy for four years at Highbury from 1994 to 1998. At club level Seaman was consistent, formidable and reliable, all the things Bartram wasn't. After three years playing as first choice at Bournemouth, he looked shaky whenever he was called upon by the Gunners. He left Arsenal for Gillingham, where he spent six years before picking up a career ending injury from a goalkeeper who will later appear on this list. Bartram now works as a goalkeeping coach at Southampton.
14 Peter Enckleman
Finnish international goalkeeper Peter Enckleman came to the Premier League in 1999 when he joined Aston Villa. When David James left the club he was momentarily the club's first choice, before Peter Schmeichel was brought in, but was handed a second chance when Schmeichel headed to Man City after a single season. One of his first starts came in Villa's biggest rivalry, with Birmingham City. Enckleman took his eye off the ball from a through in by Olof Melberg resulting in an own goal. He played a total of 52 games for Villa and two for Blackburn in the Premier League, but was always remembered for his embarrassing mistake in a local derby.
13 Gabor Kiraly
If this was a list of goalkeepers with the worst attire, Gabor Kiraly would surely come out on top, but as it stands, he's only 13th. If you're going to play in pajamas/tracksuit bottoms in front of 20-70,000 people, you must expect some ridicule, and that's exactly what the Hungarian got. He played in a Palace side which got relegated before serving as second choice for Fulham and Aston Villa, his appearance was far more noteworthy than his goalkeeping, and opposition fans often sang, "Tracksuit from Matalan," in his direction.
12 Stephen Bywater
When you're the goalkeeper in the worst Premier League team of all time, you're always likely to take a bit of flack. Worse than that, Bywater was replaced by Scott Carson half way through Derby's record-breaking shocker of a campaign. Prior to the season starting, Bywater described England's three first choice goalkeepers as "nothing special", and boldly claimed that he would be "up there in contention" by the end of the season, adding "I'm not cocky but I'm confident." He ended up playing for Sheff Wed, Millwall, Gillingham and Doncaster, before heading to India. He was never called up to the England squad.
11 Zeljko Kalac
Some of the goalkeepers on this list were just not very good, plain and simple, but Kalac, like a few others, did do well outside of the Premier League. He played over 50 games for AC Milan as Dida's understudy, including important Champions League ties in which he looked thoroughly capable. However, the big Australian, who stands at just shy of 6-foot-8 had his first venture into European football in England with Leicester City, where he was dreadful. A disastrous display against Bolton Wanderers was enough to end the 54 times capped goalkeepers Premier League dreams.
10 Mike Pollitt
Mike Pollitt played 175 games in three years at Rotherham United, before joining Wigan Athletic, where he played 36 games in nine years at the club. That just about sums up Pollitt, a decent lower league keeper who was well out of his depth in the Premier League and looked average at best whenever he was called upon. Pollitt retired in 2014 and is currently working as a goalkeeping coach at Wigan Athletic.
9 Daniele Padelli
Italian shot-stopper Daniele Padelli was never under contract at a Premier League club, spending his only time in the division on-loan from Sampdoria. Liverpool were the club that took Padelli on, who had never played for Sampdoria, although he had played for Italy at under-20 and under-21 levels. The Merseyside club have had their fare share of terrible backup 'keepers, and Padelli was probably the worst of the lot. He played just once, conceding two soft goals against Charlton Athletic. He eventually found some form with Torino, who he joined in 2013 and still plays for today.
8 Stuart Taylor
The life of a backup goalkeeper can be a tough one. Forced to wait in the wings, knowing your only likely chance of first team football is an injury to your clubs no.1, and in such an event you're expected to step right in and perform to the same levels. Stuart Taylor is perhaps the ultimate second choice 'keeper. In 18 years of professional football he has never been first choice, and has played less than 100 games in that time. Highly rated as a youngster at Arsenal, the Gunners weren't convinced with his development, and he never looked up to much when given a chance in the top flight with Aston Villa or Reading.
7 Andy Marriott
As we've seen, some keepers have a tough time in the Premier League but go on to play for good clubs at a decent level and prove that their time in English football's top flight was a mere blip. Not Andy Marriott. The Arsenal academy graduate spent a number of years as second choice at a handful of Premier League clubs. He didn't impress, and dropped down the leagues to Wrexham, where he looked solid. He was given a second shot at the Premier League, but any hopes he may have had were dashed in 2003 while playing for Birmingham City. Marriott put the ball down, but Robbie Keane ran from behind him and stuck it in the back of the net. Steve Bruce said his keeper would be "forever haunted" by the mistake. He has since played for Colchester, Bury, Torquay, Boston and Exeter, where he retired in 2011.
6 Lionel Perez
French goalkeeper Lionel Perez is another one in a similar boat to Andy Marriott, the shortage of clubs interested in acquiring his services once he departed the Premier League spoke volumes. The Frenchman joined Sunderland in 1996 and had trouble communicating with his players. The club were eventually relegated after a pitiful season with Perez in goal. He moved to bitter rivals Newcastle, where he failed to make a single appearance, and after leaving the Magpies he dropped right down the football league, joining Cambridge United. Perez later played for Enfield and Stevenage Borough, which were perhaps closer to his level.
5 Martin Fulop
One of the most important attributes a goalkeeper can have is consistency. His defenders and teammates need to be reassured that they have a reliable keeper behind them, and with Martin Fulop that is not the case. The Hungarian is capable of making spectacular saves, and his career highlights would make a fantastic highlights reel. However, his lowlights would expose why he almost never a first choice in the Premier League. Fantastic one minute and disastrous the next, his worst game came against Arsenal, when he conceded three horrific goals. Now 32, Fulop has been without a club since 2013.
4 Massimo Taibi
Probably the most famous terrible goalkeeper in Premier League history. If you play for one of the biggest club's in the world, your mistakes are always going to be under the microscope, especially if you're a goalkeeper, when your mistakes normally lead to conceding a goal. Taibi arrived at Old Trafford from Venezia with the tough task of replacing Peter Schmeichel. He won the man of the match award on his debut, but never looked comfortable. After a horrific mistake against Southampton and conceding five against Chelsea, Fergie had seen enough, and the 'Blind Venetian' was sent packing.
3 Tony Warner
Tony Warner played 200 games for Millwall between 1999 and 2004, where he looked solid enough between the sticks. His Premier League move came in 2007, when he joined Fulham. He played seven games in two years at Craven Cottage, and Fulham fans will feel that was seven games too many. Warner looked wobbly at best, and dropped two absolute howlers against Bolton and Middlesbrough respectively.
He remained in the Premier League when signed by Hull City, where he was third choice, playing only once in the League Cup and almost gifting a goal to his former club Millwall. Twice-capped by Trinidad and Tobago, Warner didn't even do enough to convince the country that he should be picked for their 2006 World Cup campaign. It was also Warner who clashed with 15th placed Peter Enckleman to end his career.
2 Andy Dibble
Welsh journeyman goalkeeper Andy Dibble played far more Premier League games than most on this list, despite the fact that he was just as useless as the others. Dibble spent nine years at Manchester City, where he played around 150 games, serving as backup to first choice 'keeper Tony Coton. Despite seeing limited game time, Dibble still managed to show just why he wasn't first choice at any of the decent clubs he ever played for, famously allowing Nottingham Forest's Gary Crosby to head the ball out of his hands and into the goal, in the Welshman's most forgettable performance.
He was given a second chance in the Premier League by Middlesbrough, in the two games he played, Boro conceded 11 goals. That was it for Dibble's Premier League career. He headed to Altrincham and Barry Town, showing the extent of his decline, although he did play three times for Wales over his 24 year career which ended in 2006. He is now the goalkeeping coach at Rotherham United.
1 Kostas Chalkias
He may have played 32 times for Greece, but most Portsmouth fans will wonder how Kostas Chalkias ever made a career as a professional footballer, never mind as a Premier League or international one. Chalkias joined Portsmouth in 2005, a year after he had won a European Championship as Greece's first choice goalkeeper, it seemed an excellent signing. He played only six games for Pompey before the club's staff decided that they'd seen enough.
In his debut against bitter rivals Southampton, Chalkias flapped at everything that came his way, as Portsmouth lost 2-1. In his next five games, Chalkias not only showed himself to be a terrible goalkeeper, but also barking mad. He conceded an own goal against Arsenal, and when his teammate did likewise, Chalkias hit him. He was dropped for Jamies Ashdown after his comical errors and displays of aggression, before moving to Spain and eventually returning to Greece.
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