Best German goalkeepers of all time

Germany has produced some of the greatest goalkeepers in football and here we learn about the best German goalkeepers of all time. 

10. Jens Lehmann

Jens Lehmann (Credit: TransferMarket)
Jens Lehmann (Credit: TransferMarket)

Lehmann, like many keepers, improved with age, having a stellar career that spanned 24 years, from 1987 to 2011. In the United Kingdom, Lehmann is best remembered for his five years as Arsenal’s goalkeeper during the ‘Invincibles’ season of 2003-04, when he played every match in the club’s remarkable, undefeated title-winning season. Prior to moving to the Premier League, Lehmann had an extremely successful career in his native Germany.

9. Uli Stein

Uli Stein (Credit: TransferMarket)
Uli Stein (Credit: TransferMarket)

Uli Stein spent seven years with Frankfurt and won one DFB Pokal championship. Uli Stein returned to Hamburger SV in 1994 and went to Arminia Bielefeld after a year. Uli’s football career came to an end in 2004 after stints with VfL Pinneberg, Kickers Emden, and VfB Fichte Bielefeld.

It’s worth noting that Uli Stein, who we consider to be one of the finest German goalkeepers of all time, was a member of the German World Cup squad in 1986 when they lost to Argentina in the final.  

8. Bert Trautmann

Bert Trautmann (Credit:

Bert Trautmann’s life and football career are remarkable stories that need to be conveyed in more than a few pages. In summary, he was a German soldier who was caught by the British on the Western Front during World War II and held as a prisoner of war.

Trautmann declined the option to return to Germany after the war and settled in Lancashire. After beginning his football career with St Helens Town in 1948, he quickly impressed the locals enough for Manchester City to sign him a year later.

It was a signature that sparked the first round of fan protests and rallies. His efforts during the following 15 years, on the other hand, would gain him supporters. Trautmann excelled with his hands as a former handball player in Germany and was known for launching assaults quickly with pinpoint throws.

7. Tony Turek 

Tony Turek (Credit:
Tony Turek (Credit:

Turek enlisted in the Wehrmacht for labour duty at the age of 18 in 1939 and served as a biker during the invasion on Poland. He was a war guest player for TSG Ulm 1846 from 1941 until 1943.

This goalkeeper joined Eintracht Frankfurt in 1946 and left after barely a year to join TSG Ulm 1846, where he stayed until 1950. Turek then joined Fortuna Dusseldorf, where he spent six years and appeared in 133 games. In 1956, he went to Borussia Monchengladbach, where he completed his football career after a year. 

6. Bodo Illgner

Bodo Illgner (Credit: TransferMarket)
Bodo Illgner (Credit: TransferMarket)

Illgner, another 1. FC Köln star, spent 10 years with the Billy Goats from 1986 to 1996 before concluding his career with five years in goal for Real Madrid at the Bernabeu. Illgner had made a few appearances for 1. FC Köln in 1986, but when Schumacher was fired after his controversial autobiography was released in the spring of 1987, Illgner took over as the regular number one. While he never won a trophy with 1. FC Köln, he did assist them in finishing second twice, in 1989 and 1990, and his outstanding efforts in his last season helped them avoid relegation.

Illgner became a national hero in 1990, when his outstanding performances for Die Mannschaft helped West Germany win the World Cup in Italia ’90, despite the fact that he was just 23 years old at the time, an exceptionally young age for a major national team goalkeeper.

5. Andres Kopke 

Andres Kopke (Credit: TransferMarket)
Andres Kopke (Credit: TransferMarket)

Andres Kopke is the next name on the list of the greatest German goalkeepers of all time. In 1962, this former goalkeeper was born in Kiel, Germany. He began his football career as a youth in 1967 with Holstein Kiel, and his senior career began in 1979. Kopke began his career with Holstein Kiel, where he remained until 1983, when he joined SC Charlottenburg.

Andres transferred to Hertha BSC after only one year, where he played for two years. He joined Nurnberg in 1986. Over the course of eight years, this former goalkeeper featured in 235 games for the team. Kopke then joined Eintracht Frankfurt, where he remained until 1996. Then he moved to Marseille, which was his only club outside of Germany at the time.

Andres returned to FC Nurnberg in 1999 and retired in 2001. He won the 1990 World Cup and the Euro 1996 with the German national team.

4. Oliver Kahn

Oliver Kahn (Credit: Bayern Munich)
Oliver Kahn (Credit: Bayern Munich)

The next name on the list is Oliver Kahn is one of the most famous German goalkeepers in history, known for his aggressive playing style, which earned him the moniker “Der Titan,” which translates to “The Titan.” Born in Karlsruhe in 1969, he began his career as a junior player with Karlsruher SC, where he played from 1975 until 1987.

Kahn’s professional career was spent at Karlsruher SC from 1987 until 1994, after which he went to Bayern Munich, where he remained until his retirement.

With the Bavarians, the Titan has won eight Bundesliga titles, six DFB Pokal titles, one UEFA Cup, one Intercontinental Cup, and one UEFA Champions League trophy. He is the only goalie to win the World Cup’s best player of the tournament award, doing so in 2002.

3. Toni Schumacher

Toni Schumacher (Credit: TransferMarket)
Toni Schumacher (Credit: TransferMarket)

While Schumacher will be remembered for the controversy surrounding his collision with French defender Patrick Battiston in the 1982 World Cup semi-final, he was a fantastic goalkeeper who was largely considered as one of the finest in the world in the early 1980s.

Schumacher, in addition to having a dominating figure and a terrific shot-stopper, was a penalty specialist, saving two French penalty kicks in the shootout in the notorious 1982 World Cup semi-final, and then saving two penalties against Mexico four years later in the quarter-final. Only Rudi Kargus (23 saves) has stopped more penalties in the Bundesliga than Schumacher (18 saves).

He was twice selected German Footballer of the Year for his outstanding goalkeeping. He finished his career in Dortmund and Fenerbahce in Turkey, where he once again mesmerised everyone with his ability and became a fan favourite.

Toni was tasked with carrying on Sepp Maier’s powerful legacy at the international level. Despite winning the UEFA European Championship in Rome the following year with a team that included Paul Breitner and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, he lost two consecutive FIFA World Cup finals in 1982 and 1986.

2. Manuel Neuer

Manuel Neuer is a living legend for Germany and Bayern Munich. He joined the Bavarians from Schalke 04 in the summer of 2011. Since then, he has won the Bundesliga title 10 times (as of 2022), and won the FIFA World Cup with Germany in 2014.

He was the Footballer of the Year in Germany twice – in 2011 and 2014, and won the Golden Glove in the 2014 FIFA World Cup. He has made the UEFA Champions League team of the season thrice and was the FIFA Best Men’s Goalkeeper in 2020.

Neuer made his name at Bayern for his all-round gameplay. A world-class shot-stopper, Nueur is a sweeper-keeper of the highest order and his passing ability is abnormally good for a goalkeeper. He has few more years left in his legs and perhaps he could make number one on our list by the time he hangs up his boots.

1. Sepp Maier

Sepp Maier (Credit: Facebook)
Sepp Maier (Credit: Facebook)

During his 18 years with Bayern Munich (he was a one-club man with the Bavarian giants) and 13 years with the West German national team, Sepp Maier essentially won everything, including the World Cup, the European Championship, three European Cup triumphs, and four Bundesliga crowns.

Maier got the moniker “Die katze von Anzing” (“the cat from Anzing”) for his quick reflexes, speed, and agility, but he was also highly consistent and dominant in the box, in addition to his shot-stopping skills. He also had amazing stamina, having played in 442 straight Bundesliga games between 1966 and 1979.

With his signature long shorts and being the first goalie to wear gigantic oversized goalkeeper gloves, Maier became one of the most legendary goalkeepers in football history. Throughout his career, this look, combined with his humour and charisma, earned him a major fan favourite.

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Written by Surajit Das

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