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Best XI of the World Cup's greatest goalkeepers

Here is a look at the greatest goalkeepers to play in the World Cup tournament.


Ricardo Zamora (Spain 1920-36)


"More famous than Garbo and better looking." That was the assessment even when Zamora was wearing a flat cap and a white polo-neck jumper. Legend has it Josef Stalin even thought he'd become president of Spain in 1934. "Ah, that goalkeeper!" he remarked, mistaking the Liberal politician Niceto Zamora for him. It's a measure of the regard Zamora was held in that he was named the best goalkeeper of the World Cup that year despite missing the second-round replay in which Spain were knocked out by the hosts and eventual winners Italy. He was widely considered the greatest of his age and gives his name to La Liga's Goalkeeper of the Season award.


Lev Yashin (Soviet Union 1954-70)


A mythical figure. Think of Yashin and the all-black kit that Peter Shilton believed had a demoralising effect on opposing strikers comes to mind. The Soviet mystique. And the nickname: "Black Spider." Indeed, it often felt like Yashin had more eyes, more arms, more legs than his peers. His net was his web, and he caught everything in it. Synonymous with great goalkeeping, Yashin is the benchmark by which all No. 1s are judged. In 1963 he became the only goalkeeper ever to win the Ballon d'Or. His influence also stretched beyond football. Bobby Charlton claimed that Yashin even helped establish good relations between people of different countries and political systems.


Gilmar (Brazil 1953-69)


If Moacyr Barbosa was the "man who made Brazil cry," a scapegoat for the defeat to Uruguay in the 1950 World Cup final at the Maracana, Gilmar made the country smile again. Between the posts for their first triumph in the competition eight years later, his celebrity was almost as great as Pelé's. It's his shoulder on whom the teenager is shedding tears of joy after beating Sweden in the final. Teammates at Santos where they won everything, the pair would retain the World Cup in 1962. "All of my street loved listening to the saves of Gilmar," said Valdir Peres, Brazil's 'keeper in 1982. "When I was a kid I got used to hearing commentators screaming his name."


Gordon Banks (England 1963-72)


"Goal!" Pelé shouted. He was certain of it. His header from Jairzinho's cross had been perfect. But instead of settling in the back of the net, the ball was rolling behind the goal. O Rei was in a state of disbelief. Somehow he had been denied. Banks had pulled off a save widely considered the best ever. It is one of the great World Cup moments: Banks moving across his line, then diving backwards to his right and flicking the ball up and over the bar, out of harm's way.Magnificent.


Sepp Maier (West Germany 1966-79)


Maier could have been an air steward. Named an honorary one by Condor airlines after helping serve drinks on a flight, he had it to fall back on should goalkeeping not work out. Alas, it did. Part of the great Bayern Munich side of the early '70s that won the Bundesliga four times and a hat trick of European Cups, they translated their success at club level onto the international stage, winning the World Cup in front of their own fans in 1974. Calm, but not so laid-back as to fall asleep, Maier's innovative use of gloves for more than just keeping his hands dry in wet conditions marked him out as one of the first of the modern era.


Dino Zoff (Italy 1968-83)


It's often said Zoff was "born flying." The first baby to be delivered in the village of Mariano del Friuli in 1942, his name appeared in the local register beside the No. 1, a sign of destiny. Forty years later Zoff became the oldest player ever to win the World Cup. His diving save to deny Oscar in the final minute of Italy's 3-2 victory over the Brazil of Zico, Socrates and Falcao was a seminal moment. Zoff was also part of one of the great World Cup images: it's from the plane journey back to Rome. The glistening trophy is on the table while he plays scopone, an Italian card game, with teammate Franco Causio against coach Enzo Bearzot and the president of the Italian Republic, Sandro Pertini.


Thomas Nkono (Cameroon 1976-1994)


Unexpectedly made Cameroon's No. 1 just hours before the kickoff of the opening game of Italia '90 against the holders Argentina at San Siro, Thomas NKono's wife missed her husband's finest hour (and a half). She had decided to go shopping instead. Mrs Nkono wasn't the only one who didn't anticipate him playing. "What are you doing here?" asked Diego Maradona, who knew him a bit from their time living in Barcelona. Nothing got past Nkono that afternoon. He kept a clean sheet, and his place, following one of the great World Cup shocks. His performances and in particular his manner of coming out and punching the ball inspired a young Gigi Buffon to give goalkeeping a go. So indebted to Nkono was the Italian that he even named one of his sons after him.


Jorge Campos (Mexico 1991-2004)
Jorge Campos, it's fair to say, is not in the class of the rest of these goalkeepers. Yet at USA '94, the Mexico No. 1 left quite the impression. Here was an ex-surfer from Acapulco who designed his own shirts -- or so the legend goes. They were remarkable. His jerseys featured zigzags of yellow, green and red. The retinas still burn. He wore his (pink) collar up even before Eric Cantona did. And you know what? Maybe Campos was on to something. Nearly all goalkeepers wear bright and loud-coloured jerseys now. Why? Because the human eye is drawn to them. So when a striker's brain is processing his shot selection the stimulus of colour subconsciously influences him to fire at it. It's an optical trick.


Oliver Kahn (Germany 1994-2006)


The nickname "King Kahn" or "the Gorilla" was an apt one. It's not hard to imagine the former Germany No. 1 scaling a building, swatting shots aside then beating his chest. A goalkeeping alpha male, there's an anecdote that tells of him stopping going to the gym because he'd put on so much muscle that it was limiting his agility. Named the best 'keeper at the 2002 World Cup, Kahn allowed only one goal -- a 92nd-minute strike from Robbie Keane -- on an unexpected odyssey to the final. Unfortunately for him, his one mistake came when he could least afford to make it. He spilled Rivaldo's shot and presented Ronaldo with the opener in the final. Germany lost 2-0 in Yokohama. But Kahn shouldn't be judged on that alone. He had otherwise been outstanding.


Gigi Buffon (Italy 1997-present)

If Gigi Buffon's goalkeeper shirt were ever to rip, it wouldn't at all be surprising to see the Superman emblem. "He has the No. 1 stamped on his skin," explained Fabio Cannavaro, his former captain. Runner up for the Ballon d'Or in 2006, 124 voters felt Buffon merited it ahead of his aforementioned teammate, the "Berlin Wall." Buffon conceded just twice at the World Cup in Germany: one was a Cristian Zaccardo own goal, the other a Zinedine Zidane penalty in the final. His save to tip a header from Zizou over the bar in the first half of extra-time kept Italy in a game they then won on penalties. The World Cup in Brazil this summer will be Buffon's sixth major tournament, a record he will share with Lothar Matthaus. Don't expect it to be his last, either. Italy's captain and all-time appearance leader insists he isn't done yet.


Iker Casillas (Spain 2000-present)


When Benfica striker Oscar Cardozo missed his penalty against Sevilla in Wednesday night's Europa League final, I had a flashback to the quarters of the 2010 World Cup. Just before the hour mark of Paraguay's encounter with Spain he was standing at the spot again. The score was 0-0 in Johannesburg. The outcome of his penalty promised to a turning point. But for whom? For Spain, as Iker Casillas denied him. David Villa would clinch a late winner after Xabi Alonso fluffed a penalty of his own. But a nation was thankful to San Iker. Spain would hail him again in the final. Faced with a one-on-one with Arjen Robben, he made himself big and got a leg to his shot, deflecting it wide. Canonisation awaited Casillas as Spain lifted the World Cup for the first time ever.