Top 10 Liverpool FC goalkeepers – From Clemence to Alisson – Liverpool FC
Alisson is Liverpool’s standout goalkeeper of the modern era, but is he the Reds’ all-time best?
While attacking players can often receive the most applause for their winning antics, goalkeepers can be just as invaluable.
Fortunately, Liverpool have had legendary figures between the sticks throughout their history, some of whom have gone on to become true Anfield legends.
Here’s how we rank the Reds’ 10 best goalkeepers of all time.
10. David James
Departures: 276 | Clean sheets: 102
Granted, David James had mistakes in him and his best years were spent elsewhere, but he was still a very good goalkeeper for Liverpool.
The former England No.1 was a mainstay in the teams of Graeme Souness and Roy Evans in the 1990s, often making eye-catching saves at key moments, and he tasted League Cup success in 1995.
James’ aforementioned mistakes ultimately defined his career at Liverpool, but he was actually much better than many gave him credit for.
You don’t make 277 appearances for the Reds if you’re not at least half decent – and 213 of those came in a row!
9. Arthur Riley
Departures: 338 | Clean sheets: 69
Almost 100 years ago, in 1925, Arthur Riley made his Liverpool debut, launching a solid career with the Reds.
The South African was first Elisha Scott’s second choice for a long time but eventually took the No.1 shirt and stayed at Anfield until 1939.
Riley was hailed for having “reach, anticipation and a sure pair of hands”, and only the exceptional Scott robbed him of being much higher up the list of Liverpool’s all-time appearance makers.
Sadly, no silverware has ever presented itself to him, but his place among Liverpool’s greatest goalkeepers is undeniable, having helped avoid relegation more times than he would have liked.
8. Jerzy Dudek
Departures: 184 | Clean sheets: 74
Jerzy Dudek may not have been perfect, but he will always have Istanbul.
The Pole’s antics in the 2005 Champions League final will never be forgotten, from Andriy Shevchenko’s unfathomable save to his decisive saves in the penalty shootout.
Away from that legendary night, Dudek was largely reliable, although high-profile mistakes against Man United still hurt to this day.
He shone under both Gerard Houllier and Rafa Benitez and will be a welcome match legend for decades to come.
7. Sam Hardy
Sam Hardy made his #LFC debut 113 years ago today. One of the most famous goalkeepers of that era recorded 36 appearances in the 1905-06 season and helped Liverpool FC win the league.
He stayed with our club for 7 years and played 240 times, then moved to Aston Villa. pic.twitter.com/sdqlY49kIr
— LFChistory.net (@LFChistory) October 21, 2018
Departures: 240 | Clean sheets: 63
Like Riley, Sam Hardy isn’t necessarily a world-famous Liverpool goalkeeper, but he was a star in his own right at the start of the 20th century.
The Englishman spent seven years on Merseyside, winning the Premier League title in 1905/06, making just under 30 appearances in a season once during his seven-year Liverpool career.
Hardy has been described as “the best goalkeeper I’ve played against” by Charlie Buchan, co-founder of the Football Writers’ Association, and is a true pre-war Liverpool hero.
6. Pepe Queen
Departures: 394 | Clean sheets: 177
Prior to Alisson’s arrival, Pepe Reina was Liverpool’s undisputed best goalkeeper of the Premier League era.
The Spaniard arrived as an upgrade over Dudek in 2005 and was an immediate favourite, winning the Golden Glove award in 2005/06, 2006/07 and 2007/08.
An eccentric character with a great team ethic, Reina improved those around her and deserved more than a solitary League Cup medal to her name.
A World Cup and two European Championships with Spain was no bad consolation!
Reina’s form dipped later, but for those first three or four years few in Europe were better with their feet and in their decision-making.
5. Elisha Scott
Departures: 468 | Clean sheets: 137
When you think of legendary former goalkeepers, Scott’s name jumps to mind, after a glittering career at Anfield.
As mentioned, he kept the impressive Riley out of the team in the 1920s, starring in back-to-back Division Two triumphs in 1921/22 and 1922/23.
By the time Scott left in 1934 he had 468 total appearances and had Everton legend Dixie Dean, calling him the “greatest I have ever seen”.
Only Ray Clemence and Bruce Grobbelaar have started more games for Liverpool between the sticks, which is saying a lot.
4. Bruce Grobbelaar
Departures: 628 | Clean sheets: 267
Forget all the eccentricities for a moment – more importantly, Grobbelaar was a world-class goalkeeper.
He was an unknown when he joined Liverpool in 1981, but by the time he left 13 years later his trophy cabinet was full to bursting and he was a huge figure in the game.
Grobbelaar’s antics in the 1984 European Cup final will forever be legendary, with his spaghetti legs confusing Roma players in the shootout – he was extremely consistent under Bob Paisley, Joe Fagan and Kenny Dalglish.
There was also the small matter of six league titles and three FA Cups and League Cups each, in what was a career most keepers only dream of.
3. Tommy Laurent
Departures: 390 | Clean sheets: 133
Tommy Lawrence was once interviewed by the BBC to talk about a clash with Everton decades earlier in 1967, with the reporter completely unaware he had played in the actual game.
It was an incident that epitomizes how easily past legends can be forgotten, when in fact he is one of the Reds’ greatest keepers.
Lawrence was an indispensable figure for Bill Shankly’s Reds for most of the 1960s, winning the first FA Cup in the club’s history and also securing two Premier League titles.
Nicknamed ‘The Flying Pig’ by Liverpool supporters, he was fearless and had a grip on the No.1 shirt that forced legendary Ray Clemence to bide his time.
Departures: 192 | Clean sheets: 86
Just like Alan Hansen and Virgil van Dijk, only longevity keeps Alisson from taking the top spot.
The 29-year-old has been an incredible signing since signing four years ago, standing out as the best goalkeeper in the world for much of that time.
Good on the ball, exceptional position, strong organizer and excellent shooter, Alisson is the prototype of the perfect modern goalkeeper.
His greatest strength is making everything so easy, and without him it’s hard to imagine Liverpool winning the Champions League and Premier League under Jurgen Klopp.
At 29, there could be another decade of him to come!
1. Ray Clemence
Departures: 665 | Clean sheets: 323
It can’t not be Ray Clemence, can it?
One of the most influential players in Liverpool’s history, the former No.1 won five league titles and three European Cups during a 13-year stint at Anfield, among many other trophies .
He was acrobatic, producing enough memorable saves to make a DVD, but was also a calming presence who conceded just 16 league goals in 42 games in 1978/79.
If not for Peter Shilton – an equally superb keeper – Clemence would have won over 100 caps for England without breaking a sweat.
Alisson still has work to do to take Clemence’s place!