We’ve waxed lyrical of late with just how good some of the goalkeepers in the Premier League are. Specifically Tottenham’s Hugo Lloris and Michel Vorm. But that also got us thinking about some of the worst we had seen in the Premiership era…and as a result, we have come up with this list of what surely must rate as the worst of the worst. The ones that you almost need to hide behind the couch to watch…or at least close your eyes. One can only imagine the response to watching this live, especially if it involves a team you support. So, without further ado…here it is, our ultimate list of the worst ten Premier League goalkeeping errors (or at least those for which we could find some footage).
#10. Fabien Barthez (Manchester United) v Arsenal, 2001
It was always going to be difficult coming in as Peter Schmeichel’s successor, yet Fabien Barthez had shown during the 1998 World Cup that he was the real deal between the posts. His time in Manchester was full of massive highs and lows. Capable of an incredible save, and on his day one of the best in the world, yet also equally capable of some truly bizarre behaviour.
The Frenchman showcased the latter on this occasion, gifting none other than countryman Thierry Henry a simple tap-in thanks to a shocking pass. Perhaps he thought they were teammates on international duty and Henry had tracked a (very, very) long way back? Well, as seen on the video below…he backed it up with a poor attempt later in the same match to gift Henry a second. So yep, either confused about which team was in red….or starstruck…or helping out the national team. Not his best work.
#9. Brad Friedel (Blackburn) v Arsenal, 2003
It cannot simply be a coincidence that Henry features twice in this definitive registry of the all-time worst Premier League goalkeeping stinkers (too far?). Perhaps Henry’s mere presence struck so much fear into the minds of goalkeepers that they simply lost it…the plot, their marbles, their ability. Everything. That seems like the only plausible explanation to this attempted kick-in from Brad Friedel…either that or he forgot to take the blinkers off.
This particular incident would have been significantly higher up the list but for the fact the goal was actually disallowed. A travesty, if only because it makes it slightly less amusing. Regardless, Friedel somehow recovered and went on to have a more than decent career in England with Henry’s arch rivals Tottenham, amongst others. But the American must surely still be counting his lucky stars after this episode.
#8. Shay Given (Newcastle United) v Coventry (2007)
The “young Irishman” as referred to by the commentary in this video, simply looked a little too chuffed with himself. And on this occasion, it’s done him in. A diving save well away from goal, followed by some “how good was I just now” posturing, and all of a sudden he forgot his whereabouts. Dion Dublin appeared from nowhere (well, no doubt that’s what Given thought) for the simple steal and to roll one in for his side.
It’s rather amazing to think that Given is still plying his trade in the Premier League for Stoke City, some twenty years since this disaster could have ended his stay at the top level. Before it had barely begun. But as is the case with most ‘keepers, one momentus horribilus does not a career make. Well done Shay, good to come back from this.
#7. Jerzy Dudek (Liverpool) v Manchester United (2002)
Our mate from earlier, Fabien Barthez got one back of his own here as his long clearance out of defence aided teammate Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to place Liverpool’s Jamie Carragher in a difficult position. Any chance of just heading it across the line for a corner (or better yet a throw in), Jamie?
Carrigher clearly didn’t help Jerzy Dudek’s cause. But the Polish ‘keeper was amidst a poor run of form and with confidence lacking, it was only natural that he be unable to lay glove on a ball that fell straight to him, rather diving over it, “laying an egg” and setting up an easy tap-in for Diego Forlan. Oh dear.
#6. Claudio Bravo (Manchester City) v Barcelona (2016)
Okay, we’re cheating here…but given it was the inspiration for this post, perhaps let us get away with it? Not sure what Claudio Bravo thought he was going to get away with here though. Hasn’t exactly covered himself in glory since his arrival on the blue side of Manchester to replace England’s own howler king Joe Hart. It’s just a shame Hart’s howlers have all been in internationals, or else they’d appear here too.
Anyway, we digress…if anyone can work out what Bravo was thinking here, then more power to you. It always seems harsh to judge a truly great goalkeeper on one mistake alone, so that’s why we’re more than happy to judge Bravo for this event. Words cannot quite do this justice, which for a blog is a real cop out…but where to start? Where is the peripheral or forward vision? Where is the understanding of one’s own limitations and skill set? Oh Claudio, Claudio, why art thou so far from goal, Claudio? And in what league did you play that allowed defensive midfielders to use their hands? Hold on, you are a midfielder right? Okay, I guess we started.
#5. Massimo Taibi (Manchester United) v Southampton (1999)
Matt Le Tissier is 30 yards out…let him have a shot, he can’t do too much damage from there. Especially when struck with such a lack of power…alright, get back up the field from the goal kick to come. Oh…hang on…what? How did that…? What was he…?
Perhaps not the finest Italian footballer ever to appear in the Premier League, Massimo Taibi is (unfortunately for him but fortunately for us) remembered for one specific moment in his epic, 4-game Manchester United career. And this is it. It’s not too dissimilar to the Jerzy Dudek stinker, but for him being under less pressure. Try zero pressure. So in that sense, it’s much worse as a result.
Taibi spent his entire career as a professional in Italy but for his brief cameo at Man U. Fair to say those few weeks didn’t go entirely to plan. Best part of this video is post-goal when Taibi starts picking at his boots, as if claiming he slipped…or wanted to dig a hole…or wasn’t sure just how to hide such a terminal error.
#4. Peter Enckelman (Aston Villa) v Birmingham City, 2002
Another infamous goalkeeping blunder, it’s rare they go unnoticed during a derby (see examples above). An elementary throw in that should have been collected and cleared, with not an opponent in sight. It should be received and dealt with. Surely. But no. Did it take an unfortunate bobble or twist? Regardless, it’s a horrible look for poor old Peter Enckelman.
#3. Heurelho Gomes (Tottenham) v Various, 2010-2012
Such were the breadth and depth of Heurelho Gomes’ blunders through his final two years as Tottenham’s first (or second) choice, that it is simply too difficult to crucify the Portuguese for just one blunder in particular. In isolation, they may not each be the worst of all time…but as the clip below will attest, his worst was the worst one had to offer.
After such a promising start to his Spurs career, Gomes would go on to etch his name in history as the man who was just didn’t stand out at all. He became poor through a series of very ordinary shot-stopping failures. Not poor enough to be remembered for one particular error, but far too poor to be remembered as anything other than a terrible ‘keeper at Tottenham. These errors add up. Yet Gomez has gone on to be far from poor in his time at Watford. Really good in fact. Like his early days at Spurs. Bizarre.
#2. Joe Hart (Manchester City) v Southampton (2013)
It’s a little harsh to single poor Joe Hart out for this particular error. But given how much stick he has copped after the Euros, we felt it only fair. And to be even fairer, he’s been pretty bloody good since then for both England and Torino (apart from his debut).
So Joe, here’s just a subtle reminder from the Premier League as to what can happen when you don’t close your legs, or arms, or both, or something. Or spend too long shouting rather than stopping ball from entering back of net. You’ve just got to be saving this. Okay the latter two points are irrelevant in this example, but it still burns.
#1. Andy Marriott (Birmingham City) v Tottenham Hotspur (2003)
It’s like Christmas in the Keane family home as Andy Marriott gift wraps a goal on a silver platter to Spurs’ Irish striker. Okay, terrible analogy but the point remains. It’s not too dissimilar to Brad Friedel’s effort. So in that sense, at least all of these goalkeepers can attest to someone else at some stage or another doing something just as stupid.
But this is pretty bad. Thank you, Mr. Marriott. You win first prize. On debut for the club, and you deliver this delicacy.
It’s all subjective of course, and the order could easily be flipped on its’ head. Anyway, here it is…we’ve trawled through the archives and this is our top ten goal keeping howler list (thus far). We’re happy to be proven wrong…and/or if you’d like to help this list grow, simply shoot us an email or facebook message and let us know which howler is missing. We’ll gladly add it to the list and give you full credit for your creepy fascination with goalkeeping blunders from the Premier League era!