Some of the greatest goalkeepers in the history of the game have called England their home at some point during their careers. From great English goalkeepers such as Gordon Banks and Peter Shilton to imported world class shot stoppers like Bert Trautmann and Kasper Schmeichel, the country has been blessed with some fine ‘keepers over the years.
We recently did lists of the greatest goalkeepers of all time and the worst of the Premier League era, it won’t surprise you that none crop up from the former list but there are a few from the latter. Of the current Premier League teams, the quality of player they are used to differs greatly. A club like Bournemouth who are used to playing in the third or fourth tiers will most likely have a poorer ‘worst ever’ player in every position than a long-time top team such as Liverpool or Manchester United.
That being said, given that most clubs are over a century old, every team has had shocking players over the years, and no position is more prone to scrutiny and ridicule than the goalkeeper. Unsurprisingly, a number of the entries are from recent years, often in the Premier League era, where we have video evidence of players’ abilities. For a few teams, one goalkeeper simply wasn’t enough, and they have two entries. The list is in alphabetical order and not in ranking of each goalkeeper. Here are the worst goalkeepers in every Premier League team’s history:
Arsenal – Richard Wright
From Pat Jennings to David Seamen, Arsenal have had some of British football’s top goalkeepers grace the North London club. They haven’t been able to escape some terrible ones too though, especially in the Arsene Wenger era since the departure of Jens Lehmann. Manuel Almunia, Lukasz Fabianski, Wojciech Szczesny and more have all made blunders, forcing Wenger to bite the bullet and buy Petr Cech last summer. The worst of the lot was Richard Wright though. He arrived for over $10 million from Ipswich Town, but played only 22 games for the Gunners, once punching the ball into his own net against Charlton Athletic. He has been at Man City for four years now, without playing a single game.
Aston Villa – Peter Enckelman
Finnish shot stopper Peter Enckelman was never forgiven by the Aston Villa supporters after he took his eye off the ball in their Birmingham derby against Birmingham City. Having been number two to Peter Schmeichel, it was Enckelman’s chance to prove his worth, but the mistake meant he would always be considered a liability. He did play 68 games for Villa but never found regular football in England again, with his only position as number 1 coming in the SPL with St. Johnstone.
Bournemouth – David Button
David Button was never actually under contract at Bournemouth, but rather on-loan at the coastal club. Button was under contract at Tottenham, where he spent four years, played one game, and was loaned out 13 times. Stats like that are always a cause for concern, and Bournemouth fans weren’t impressed with the former England youth prospect. He played just four games for the club, who were in the fourth tier at the time, before being sent packing. Today, Button is doing much better, looking an accomplished player at Brentford.
Chelsea – Mark Bosnich
During the Roman Abramovich era Chelsea haven’t had much trouble with regards to goalkeepers. Starting with Carlo Cudicini, followed by Petr Cech, Thibaut Courtouis and now even Asmir Begovic, the Blues haven’t had to worry about who is between the sticks very often in recent times. Before the Russian billionaire arrived though, things weren’t quite as simple. Mark Bosnich spent two years at the club, playing seven games. The once promising Australian had all kinds of troubles, and they showed on the pitch, with his time at the club finally being ended when he failed a drug test for taking cocaine.
Crystal Palace – Gabor Kiraly
Gabor Kiraly is best remembered for being the goalkeeper who wore terrible tracksuit bottoms, which is probably a relief for him, as he wouldn’t want to be remembered for his displays on the pitch while in England. Kiraly played over 100 games for Crystal Palace, and routinely made basic errors. Although his distinctive attire made him a cult hero to some, most Palace fans saw him for what he was, and were delighted when Julian Speroni became the club’s number one.
Everton – Espen Baardsen & Drew Brand
One entry wasn’t enough for Everton. Espen Baardsen was probably the worst ‘keeper the club ever had, but he played only once, conceding four goals in 4-3 defeat to Tottenham. The game not only signalled the end of his time at Everton, but the end of his football career, as he retired, aged 25. Drew Brand played twice as many games for the club – two – but was equally unimpressive. He only found regular football at Hereford United, before retiring to become a police officer.
Leicester City – Simon Royce
In Gordon Banks and Peter Shilton, Leicester City have had arguably England’s two greatest ever goalkeepers over the years. Past those legends though, there have been a number of suspect shot stoppers. In some cases Foxes fans may have too higher expectations given those two greats, but not with Simon Royce. Royce spent three years with Leicester, but played only 19 games, where he has become regarded as the worst goalkeeper the club has ever had. He later found regular football with Q.P.R. and Gillingham.
Liverpool – Brad Jones & Charles Itandje
The second Merseyside club, and the second club with two entries. Once more, neither of these ‘keepers played many games for the Reds. Brad Jones only left Liverpool last summer after just over 20 games for the club. The fact that he joined Bradford speaks volumes of how much he impressed at Anfield. Cameroon goalkeeper Charles Itandje played only seven games for Liverpool. He didn’t impress and was the subject of much abuse after he was seen laughing and joking during a remembrance of the Hillsborough Disaster.
Manchester City – Andy Dibble
Andy Dibble came second in our list of the worst Premier League goalkeepers, and he tops Manchester City’s personal list. Dibble’s early years with the Sky Blues were unimpressive, but after a number of years out on-loan, he returned to the first team fold, where he went from unimpressive to catastrophic. He famously had the ball headed out of his hands in a game against Nottingham Forest. In total, Dibble played 116 times for Man City, and didn’t find regular football again until dropping down the divisions to join Wrexham.
Manchester United – Massimo Taibi
The most predictable entry on this list, Massimo Taibi is famously Manchester United’s worst ever goalkeeper and one of Sir Alex Ferguson’s worst ever signings. Nicknamed the ‘Blind Venetian’ for his shocking performances, the Italian arrived from Venezia, and was man of the match on his Manchester United debut. He played only three more games for the club though, and was calamitous in all, forcing Ferguson to concede his error of judgement and return Taibi to Italy after just a season in the Premier League.
Newcastle United – Dave Beasant
Dave Beasant had a very respectable career, lifting a shock FA Cup with Wimbledon, before lengthy spells at Chelsea, Southampton and Norttingham Forest, even winning two caps for England. His time at Newcastle though, ensured that one club would not have fond memories of the ‘keeper. He conceded 34 seconds into his debut, which was a 4-0 defeat. He began the season as number one but was soon dropped and sold to Chelsea before the season had even finished.
Norwich City – Michael Theo
Michael Theo, formerly ‘Michael Theoklitos’, is an Australian goalkeeper who has had a good career in the Australian A-League, but his time in England was rather less impressive. He played twice for Blackpool in 2002, before returning to Britain to join then third division Norwich City in 2009. On his Canaries debut Theo conceded five goals in the first half, as the team lost 7-1. He was dropped to third choice and the next time he was asked to play he didn’t turn up. Unsurprisingly his career at Norwich didn’t last long, and the 7-1 defeat was his only appearance for the club.
Southampton – Tommy Forecast
Now 29, in what could be described as a goalkeepers ‘peak’ years, Tommy Forecast is currently playing for Dartford, on-loan from Chelmsford City. With the greatest of respect for the two non-league outfits, it is some indication of Forecast’s true level. After signing for the Saints, Forecast was loaned out to Grimsby, where he conceded four on his debut and was sent back early from his loan. To make matters worse for Southampton, not only was Forecast terrible, the signing of Forecast from Tottenham was agreed to terminate the club’s sell-on-fee of Gareth Bale, meaning he cost the club $34 million.
Stoke City – Gordon Marshall
The second goalkeeper on this list who was never under contract at said team but only on-loan, Gordon Marshall joined Stoke City on-loan from Celtic in 1993. His Stoke City debut has to go down as one of the most shocking in history. Up against Luton Town, Marshall conceded 6 goals in a 6-2 defeat, with Marshall largely to blame for as many as 5 of the goals. He later punched the ball into his own goal in a game against Oxford United, before being sent back to Celtic after 10 dreadful performances for the Potters.
Sunderland – Kelvin Davis
Kelvin Davis has been a reliable shot stopper for Luton, Wimbledon, Ipswich and to this day, Southampton, when called upon, still making the odd appearance for the Saints when injuries make his play required. His time at Sunderland though, is a blip in an otherwise decent career, and the Sunderland fans understandably don’t have particularly fond memories of the current Southampton third choice. He made a number of embarrassing errors in the North East, playing 33 games as Sunderland ended the season with 15 points, the second worst total in Premier League history.
Swansea City – Derek Bellotti
The fact that Derek Bellotti’s three clubs after Swansea City were Maidstone United, Margate and St Blazey AFC says all you need to know about his time with the Swans. The Welshmen may be an established Premier League outfit and one of the best run teams around today, but they spent much of their existence fighting for survival in the third and fourth tiers, and have seen their fair share of poor ‘keepers, but Bellotti, who was playing for the club in the 1974-75 season takes the biscuit. He didn’t impress in his 19 games in Wales, and swiftly moved into non-league football.
Tottenham Hotspur – Bobby Mimms
Current Bolton Wanderers goalkeeping coach Bobby Mimms had good spells with Rotherham, Blackburn, Preston, York and Mansfield over the course of a 20 year career, but not at Tottenham. The North Londoners regard Mimms as one of the least reliable players they’ve ever had between the sticks. He spent two years at White Hart Lane, playing 37 league games, in which he made a number of blunders, most notably letting in a tame shot away at QPR. He was soon sold to second division Blackburn Rovers.
Watford – Perry Digweed & Tony Meola
The third and final team to require two entries, Watford have had a number of dreadful ‘keepers over their 134 year history. The two who come out on top, or bottom rather, are Perry Digweed and Tony Meola. Oddly enough, the two played together, but at Brighton rather than Watford. For Digweed, Watford was his last club, he spent two seasons there, playing 29 games before retiring. Meola played only once for the club, and never in the league, but that hasn’t stopped the American being widely regarded as one of the worst players to ever play for the club. Despite his time with the Hornets, Meola went on to have a great career in the MLS, and won 100 caps for the U.S.M.N.T.
West Brom – Paul Chrichton
Journeyman goalkeeper Paul Chrichton made a grand total of 28 loan and transfer moves over the course of a 25 year career. His longest spell was at Grimsby Town, where he played 133 games, and it was this impressive spell which earned him a move to West Brom. He would experience a rather shorter and much less enjoyable spell in Birmingham though. He spent two years with the Baggies, playing 32 games and is probably the safest shout as a club’s worst ever goalkeeper on this list, such is the unanimity among West Brom fans. Crichton eventually found his form with Burnley, where he returned to West Brom and didn’t put a foot wrong, something he never did while playing for the Baggies.
West Ham – Allen McKnight
Allen McKnight is not only widely regarded among Hammers fans as West Ham’s worst ever goalkeeper, but even the club’s worst ever player by some. A nickname like ‘Allen McKnightmare’, which the Northern Irishman earnt for his calamitous displays can never be good for the confidence, and his time East London always seemed destined to fail. He joined from Celtic, where he had spent two years and won 10 caps for Northern Ireland, and spent three years at West Ham, although with considerably less success. The list of clubs McKnight played for after the Hammers were a mark of his time there, including the likes of Airdrieonians, Collier Row and Romford.
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