It is an odd situation that, in a tournament remembered for high scoring games and fantastic attacking play; some of the most memorable individual performances of the tournament were from Goalkeepers. A combination of household names as well as a few surprises makes our list of the Top 5 Goalkeepers of the World Cup – some of which putting their name right in the frame for a summer move.
Despite defeat, Tim Howard earned a piece of history in the Round of 16 game against Belgium. While his record breaking 16 saves on the night was not enough to see his USA side over the line, his stunning display of shot stopping won the hearts of football fans around the world. Howard’s performances in the group stages were equally impressive too. Placed in a group alongside Portugal, Ghana, and eventual champions Germany, Howard’s heroics were key in the USA side progressing from the group stages for the second successive World Cup. If this does turn out to be Howard’s last World Cup (now aged 35), it was not a bad way to bow out.
While it may not have been such a shock to La Liga nuts to see the performances of Keylor Navas in Brazil, many of the more casual viewers will have been shocked to see the extent of the Costa Rican’s ability. Somewhat overshadowed last season by the likes of Courtois, Valdes and Diego Lopez, Navas guided Levante to a respectable 10th position in the league. Having only conceded twice from open play in a World Cup where Costa Rica impressively reached the Quarter Final stage, rumours were rife of interest from the likes of Arsenal and Barcelona. However, according to Spanish newspaper Marca, the 27 year old stopper has a deal in place to join Real Madrid this window, with the future of club legend Iker Casillas in doubt. Wherever he ends up next season, the future certainly looks bright for Mr. Navas.
Despite Argentina falling at the final hurdle in Rio, Sergio Romero was an unlikely hero for his side throughout the tournament. Romero spent last season on loan at a resurgent Monaco in Ligue 1, making only 3 league appearances all season – something which makes his World Cup performances even more miraculous. After his Semi Final heroics in saving two Dutch penalties in the shootout, Romero was named on the FIFA Golden Glove shortlist, as well as winning the Man of the Match award for the game in Sao Paulo. As one of the unlikely success stories of the tournament, I would expect a sizeable queue of clubs to be lurking for his signature should his first team chances still be as limited at Sampdoria.
Guillermo ‘Memo’ Ochoa has always been recognised in his home nation as a world class shot stopper, but received little recognition outside his home nation. When his spell at boyhood club América ended, rumours of a move to the likes of Manchester United, Fulham, Sevilla and Roma soon followed. Ochoa eventually signed for Ajaccio in France where he spent three seasons. The Mexican entered the World Cup knowing that he would be a Free Agent by the time his campaign finished, and put in a string of supreme performances in a tournament where Mexico exceeded expectations. After showing such stunning World Cup form, Ochoa will not be short of options this summer, especially now that a free transfer is on the cards.
Manuel Neuer was the runaway winner of the FIFA Golden Glove award, but not only for his display of supreme shot stopping. The Round of 16 match against Algeria particularly springs to mind, as Neuer charged out of his box on numerous occasions to make last ditch tackles and interceptions – cleaning up behind Germany’s sloppy high defensive line. As a Goalkeeper, Neuer’s distribution is almost unrivalled in football. His ability to find a teammate with a long throw or pass put Germany on the front foot, creating counter attack opportunities. His work with Pep Guardiola at Bayern has seemed to advance his ball playing ability even further, and at only 28, Neuer could go on to be one of the great Goalkeepers of all time.