It’s good to have a skilled goalie in soccer who can make big saves, but not as important as in a sport like hockey, and probably not nearly as important as one would assume. In hockey, after all, there are usually 15-30 shots on goal per game, and with the net being just 6 feet by 4 feet, a goalie’s skill can make all the difference. But in soccer, sometimes a goalie will only see 1 or 2 shots a game, and with the goal being 24 feet by 8 feet, often there will be nothing a guy can do to keep the ball out of the net.
However, every once in a while, the goalie can be the most important player in the game—like when he gets the opportunity to make a huge save, and he actually comes through. And these relatively rare occasions provide some of the most exciting plays the sport of soccer has to offer.
So today we celebrate the soccer save with this list. Some of the saves are incredible, others are lucky, and others still are flat out hilarious. But they all show the importance of goalies…sometimes.
This guy kind of flubs the shot, but at least the keeper is able to react in time. I would have been on the ground watching it go by where I just was.
20. PK save
Nothing wrong with this shot. This goalie just guessed right and made a ridiculous save—half luck, half skill.
19. Another PK save
I'm not sure where the real keeper was on this play. Maybe he went for a bathroom break. But his defender really bailed him out.
18. Open net save
The actual save isn't that impressive. But this guy did a great job of reading the play and cutting off the angle, and that's half the battle.
17. Cut off the angle
Spain would be the best national soccer team in the world even without a world class goalie, since they hardly let the other team touch the ball, let alone get shots on goal. But it doesn't hurt that they have a guy like Iker Casillas in net for those rare occasions when an opponent does get a shot.
Being a goalie is about striking a balance. You have to make sure you can get to a shot, but you also don't want to overcommit...in case something like this happens. Two saves on one play—not bad, guy.
Yeah, sure, it might have gone wide. But who knows, it might have curled in there, and you can't always take a chance. In any case, this shot was a freakin missile.
14. Long range
You can't really tell from this GIF just how good this save is. It could be amazing. It could be ordinary. But it certainly looks awesome.
Sometimes the spin put on a ball when it's struck makes it take off in the opposite direction, so a goalie can't be caught flat-footed.
12. Stops a bullet
Hey, it didn't go in the goal, did it?
11. The saving face
That guy probably though the had a goal for sure. Way to get over there.
10. Point blank
American goalie Hole Solo saved the gold medal for the USA at the Olympics not once...
9. Hope 1
...but twice. The first one wasn't the best shot, but Solo had to give it everything she had to get a hand on it. The second one? That's just hot.
8. Hope 2
You really need to keep the penalty kicks low and near the post, because if you leave it anywhere where a good goalie can get a hand on it, this will happen.
Are you hypnotized yet?
7. Bad shot, good save
Talk about coming up big for your team. And the best part is, it looks like he intentionally passes the ball right to his keeper. No big deal.
6. Goalies don't make all the saves
The keeper has his view blocked by the wall, and the shot look to be perfect, curling right inside the top right corner. And yet the goalie gets a glove on it.
You know what? This one is so good, let's take a look at it from another angle...
5. As good as it gets
If you note the score graphic, this one came in stoppage time of a tie game. So it really saved the day for Man U.
4. From the other side
At first I thought this one constituted an epic choke by the guy who took the shot. But as I watched it again and again, I realized that there's probably not a lot more he could have done there. He had to make sure he got a solid foot on it, and besides, the goalie was nowhere to be seen. So really, the story here is all about the ground the keeper covers to get over and block the shot.
It's pretty amazing if you ask me.
3. Simply ridiculous
Holy. Hell. That's awesome. Here's a rare example of a goalie highlight that would not be enhanced by slow motion. You have to see it at full speed to appreciate the awesomeness.
2. Nice reflexes
Meet famed Colombian goalie René Higuita. They called him "the madman" because of his reckless play and penchant for taking risks. And this save is a perfect example of that. Higuita called it "the scorpion kick," and as far as I know, he only used it in a game one time—a friendly against England at Wembley Stadium in 1995.
He was some crazy bastard, wasn't he?