In the fourth edition of the feature, both ‘keepers picked out some of the most talented opponents they’ve come up against during their playing careers.
While Shilton played from the 1960s all the way up to late 1990s, Schmeichel’s professional career began in 2006, with their combined experience spanning over seven decades.
Also included in the discussion is the change in perspective of players of other nationalities plying their trade in England’s highest division – something that Shilton and Schmeichel have witnessed first hand.
On the best goalkeepers of their generation
Peter Shilton & Gordon Banks
Shilton selected Gordon Banks as the most talented goalkeeper he faced during his career.
Peter Shilton said: “It's easy for me, because obviously mine would be Gordon Banks because I played against Gordon for Leicester against Stoke. You know, before he got his accident. Gordon was obviously my hero when I was growing up. You know, I watched him come through. I mean, at the time, I've got to say, there was also a goalkeeper called Lev Yashin and he used to wear all black, and he was so agile and he was incredible, but he looked unbeatable because he wore all black. I thought I'll always try and look unbeatable in goal. I want to look strong and determined and give that sort of impression. Obviously, Gordon, in particular was great at positional play. He always seemed to be in the right position at the right time. When the ball was moving, he'd be there, waiting for the shot. He wouldn't be moving when the shot was hit. So, I thought a bit of positional play, and then Peter Bonetti, who recently passed away, a very small ‘keeper nicknamed the Cat, because he was like a cat who's so agile around the goal. He used to actually, in the day, throw the ball like an arrow into the halfway line to a striker's feet. I mean, in the days where 'keepers used to kick it. I took a bit of everything, but Gordon was my hero, and I would say in my time, he was the best 'keeper. I played against Dino Zoff of Italy, in the '70s. To me, you'd have to go a long way to beat those 'keepers.”
Schmeichel regards Manuel Neuer, a 2014 FIFA World Cup winner with Germany, as one of the most influential modern-day goalkeepers.
Kasper Schmeichel said: “I can't give you one. I mean, there's so many. One of my first Premier League games was against Manchester United, where Edwin van der Sar was playing and he was incredible. Petr Cech was amazing. Joe Hart, [Iker] Casillas. I mean, Casillas was one of my heroes growing up, absolutely loved him. I watched him very, very closely to throughout my career. Manuel Neuer. Probably more recent, I'd say maybe, the most recent I'd say, Ederson. Ederson is unique in what he does. He has, along with Neuer, changed goalkeeping and very few people probably do that, but they've redefined the role of goalkeeping between Neuer and Ederson. It's probably no surprise that they both have Pep Guardiola as manager at the time, because that's obviously what he demands. And he also makes the team play in a sense that you can play counter-pressing so high up the pitch because of the bravery, because you're talking exactly about the 10 balls over the top and the one mistake you make, but the way Man City play and the way Bayern Munich play, they have to do that every single time, and they have to live on that balance, that risk. Yes, you do risk looking foolish, but that's what I'm saying. They've redefined the role of goalkeeping, and now that's what everyone else is kind of striving for. So, a lot of goalkeepers there. I can't name you one individual because it'd be unfair/ One of the ones that I have played against was Santiago Cañizares. And I loved him as well. He was a great goalkeeper. He was great to watch, he had this quite flamboyant, arrogant style about him and did amazing things on the pitch. I was very lucky to meet him when we played Atlético Madrid. He was at the game. I was very, very lucky to meet him. I played with David Seaman, for one year. David was incredible. So again, Shay Given, I trained with him many, many times and again, [there's] too many to mention.”
On a former team-mate of Schmeichel's
Schmeichel says he was struck by Shay Given's talent after his arrival at Manchester City in 2009.
Kasper Schmeichel said: “He was one of them where he was brought in because it was me and Joe Hart competing for the no.1 shirt at Man City. Joe was no.1, and I was no.2. They brought Shay in and we obviously all knew who Shay was. We'd seen him play for Newcastle for 10 years and done unbelievably. I remember probably about three weeks into when Shay arrived, he was kind of doing this set while me and Joe were waiting to do ours. So we were watching. We're kind of looking at each other thinking the same thing. Like I said, he's unbelievable and he's one of them. You didn't realise how good he actually was until you saw him up close, he was incredible.”
On a change in perspective
Shilton says English goalkeepers, including David Seaman, were once considered the best in the world at their trade.
Peter Shilton said: “I think the big change for me from when I started out, I think British goalkeepers were looked upon us is the best in the world. I mean, foreign goalkeepers, you probably find this, and I don't mean that disrespectfully, but, in this country, we just didn't rate foreign 'keepers because basically, they used to stay on their line. This is in the '60s and '70s. They very rarely, because in those days, a lot of teams played very defensively, you know, so they weren't really put under as much pressure as probably they are these days, you know, but I just think football's evolved and developed. It's become, you know, players from all over the world coming into our league, and it's been a massive change in that respect. Other countries have probably caught up. I was lucky, I had Joe Corrigan, Phil Parkes, Chris Woods, David Seaman and David Beasant. They were all behind me, you know, great 'keepers over that period of time."
Kasper Schmeichel said: “I do always remember when I was young, particularly coming through because a lot of obviously managers are your era and your generation. They grew up with British 'keepers being very dominant and being the best in the world. And also, catching everything, and this whole idea of punching and parrying was like a bit of a big time Charlie. What are you doing? Just catch the ball. So, I do remember coming through that was very much the attitude of, well, we're Britain. We have the best goalkeepers. Our goalkeepers do this, why don't you do that? I was never the tallest goalkeeper and they wanted these big 6ft 6ins lads who just came and took everything in the air. Obviously, the game's evolved, like you say. Right now you've got Thibaut Courtois, obviously, he's gone to Real Madrid, but he's a 6ft 6ins giant and then you've got the smaller 'keepers as well, being able to play. I do think that growing up, that was something that really, you're reminded of a lot. That's the standard you've got to live up to.”
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