It’s 16 years to the day since Sander Westerveld joined Liverpool, but where does he rank in the club’s finest goalkeepers since the Premier League began?
On June 15th 1999, Westerveld made a £4 million move to Anfield from Dutch side Vitesse Arnhem, enjoying two impressive years on Merseyside.
When it comes to top class goalkeepers, the Reds haven’t exactly been blessed with a plethora of talent in that department since the Premier League‘s inception in 1992.
Bruce Grobelaar was a fantastic servant throughout his 13 years as a Liverpool player, but he was past his best by time the First Division became the Premier League. He doesn’t merit a place in the list below because of that.
Without further ado, here are the Reds’ five best goalkeepers of the last 23 years:
Simon Mignolet‘s inclusion in the top five perfectly highlights Liverpool’s lack of goalkeeping brilliance down the years, given the Belgian’s inconsistency in a Reds shirt.
His Anfield career couldn’t have got off to a better start though, as his last-gasp penalty save from Jon Walters’ penalty helped Brendan Rodgers’ side to a 1-0 opening day victory over Stoke City in August 2013.
Mignolet has been up and down from that point on, making errors and lacking confidence on too many occasions. His form so far in 2015 has been terrific, however, which bodes well for the future.
The 27-year-old is a fantastic shot-stopper, but his decision-making, use of the ball and general consistency must improve if he is to remain first-choice for the next several years. He is worth persevering with.
4. David James
It is quite easy to poke fun at David James’ time at Liverpool, but for the most part, he was nowhere near as bad as some of his detractors like to believe.
The former England No. 1 spent seven years at Liverpool between 1992 and 1999, and made over 50 appearances three seasons running. In total, he played 277 times for the club.
In reality, he was generally very reliable and extremely talented, and would go on to outline his quality in the years following his Reds exit. At his best he was outstanding.
3. Sander Westerveld
It was Westerveld who replaced James at Liverpool, with Gerard Houllier desperate to bring in a new first-choice goalkeeper. Many forget it now, but at the time the Dutchman was the most expensive goalkeeper in British football history.
Having enjoyed a solid first season in 1999/2000, Westerveld played a key role in Houllier and his side winning an unprecedented cup treble in 2000/01.
His penalty save from Andy Johnson in the League Cup final secured glory against Birmingham City, and he was very reliable throughout the whole of the campaign.
Life on Merseyside ended on a negative note for Westerveld, with his woeful late mistake away to Bolton Wanderers in August 2001 costing Liverpool hugely. He was swiftly sold to Real Sociedad.
2. Jerzy Dudek
Jerzy Dudek was brought in to replace the axed Westerveld in 2001, signing from Eredivisie outfit Feyenoord for £4.85 million.
Although his unforgettable exploits in the 2005 Champions League Final are what the Pole is best remembered for, it’s easy to forget what a reliable player he was throughout his six years on Merseyside.
Although not the most physically imposing, Dudek was very safe with his hands- if you forget his disastrous gift to Diego Forlan in December 2002- and rarely put a foot wrong in all other facets of his game.
His performance in Istanbul is what gained him legendary status, however, and rightly so. THAT save from Andriy Shevchenko and his penalty exploits will forever go down in Reds folklore. [td_ad_box spot_id=“custom_ad_3″]
1. Pepe Reina
In truth, when it comes to selecting Liverpool’s best goalkeeper of the Premier League era, Pepe Reina wins by a country mile.
The Spaniard was a superb player for the Reds from day one, and was one of the best in the world in his position for several years.
Signed from Villarreal for £6 million in the summer of 2005, Reina proved to be an absolute bargain, and was a key part of Rafa Benitez’s formidable team of the mid to late 2000s.
The Spain World Cup winner won the prestigious Premier League Golden Glove award three years in succession- 2005/06, 2006/2007 and 2007/08- and was the epitome of consistency during an eight-year period in which he barely missed a game.
At his peak, Reina was the complete ‘keeper. He made match-winning saves, read danger expertly, had an aura about him and distributed the ball superbly. His brilliant personality was simply an added bonus.