Football is all about scoring goals and whilst a goalkeeper making a world-class save will attract praise, the headlines are almost always reserved for those that put the ball in the back of the net, rather than those that attempt to prevent that outcome. Normally, for a goalkeeper to be the centre of attention, it will be due to heroics in a penalty shootout. Or, more often, the only time they will take the limelight is when they don’t want it – because of a howler, or perhaps because they are sent off or give away a crucial penalty.
In the modern game, the role of the goalkeeper has changed immensely. Manuel Neuer was arguably the first sweeper-keeper, regularly seen operating outside his area in order to allow his defence to play higher up the pitch and thus facilitate a high press by the midfield and attack. One of Pep Guardiola’s first major actions as Man City boss was to sign a new goalkeeper, despite the fact the club had England’s stopper, Joe Hart. There was no issue with Hart’s shot-stopping or traditional goalkeeper qualities. Instead, Pep required his number one to be better with his feet, to be more comfortable playing higher up the pitch, to possess superior distribution, and to be able to start attacks and even provide assists with accurate long passes.
There are some who expect the role of the goalkeeper to evolve further, almost to the extent they become an extra outfield player. This is a rather extreme prediction but should it happen then perhaps goalkeepers will one day be judged on how many assists they provide and even, just maybe, the goals they score. This may all sound far-fetched of course, and certainly for the time being a goalkeeper scoring in the PL is uncommon, to say the least. But just how many goalkeepers have scored in the English top flight since its rebrand in 1992?
Goalkeepers That Have Scored in the EPL
Before we look at how many goalkeepers have bagged a goal in the PL, we should point out that we are not including own goals here. It is not uncommon for a goalie to register a strike at the wrong end, be it through a rebound off the woodwork, a handling error that sees them miscue a punch or catch, or some other mistake. With that in mind, if you simply want to know how many goalkeepers have scored in the Premier League then the answer is six. Details of those super six can be seen in the table below.
|20 October 2001
|Volley from corner
|21 February 2004
|Close-range finish following corner
|17 March 2007
|4 January 2012
|2 November 2013
|16 May 2021
|Header from corner
How Can a Goalkeeper Score?
There are a range of possible ways in which a goalkeeper can score, some of which are summarised in the table above. In addition to the methods mentioned already, there are various other scenarios in which a stopper can reverse their normal role and score, rather than prevent, a goal. All of these have been done at one time or other in different competitions around the world, and in time a PL keeper will probably score in this way too.
- Goal Kick – scoring direct from a goal kick is perhaps the hardest, least likely way for one goalie to beat another. However, since a rule change in 1997 it is possible and, moreover, has happened. Often aided by a strong wind and/or an unusually big bounce when the ball lands.
- Kick from Hands – a keeper may also score from a kick from their hands/on the half-volley. This is a little more likely as they can usually kick the ball further this way and can kick the ball from the edge of their own area or even just outside.
- Long Clearance – if the ball is played back to the keeper they may decide to simply kick it long. It is easier to strike a ball coming towards oneself and as we see above, keepers have scored in this way in the PL over the years.
- Direct from a Free Kick – there two different types of goals here. Paul Robinson scored in this way when his side were awarded a free kick to the left of his area. The other way is a more traditional direct free kick, from within shooting range, it is uncommon for goalies to take such free kicks, but not unheard of.
- Penalty – a goalkeeper scoring in a penalty shootout is not hugely uncommon but of course this is not a possibility in the Premier League. However, a goalie might also be their side’s first-choice penalty-taker in normal time, or be given the chance to score if they are leading by a comfortable margin. This has not happened in the Premier League – yet!
- From a Corner – if a team is losing late on, or drawing a game they need to win, it is a common site, and one fans tend to love, to see goalkeepers heading forward to attack a corner. One glance to the manager to get the go-ahead and up trots the keeper. This is perhaps the most common way for a goalie to score.
- From a Free Kick – as above really but from a free kick in a crossing position, rather than a corner.
- Catching Opponent Out of Position – this method of a goalkeeper scoring may link a few of the methods above together. Should one goalkeeper advance up the pitch to try and score a late goal from a corner or free kick, there is a danger they will be caught in their opponent’s half with their own side out of position. If, for example, the opposition shot-stopper catches a corner, the defending keeper will have a great chance to go for a goal themselves, with all of the opposition players, including the goalkeeper who came up for the corner, out of position.
Peter Schmeichel v Everton
Peter Schmeichel is arguably the greatest goalkeeper the Premier League has ever seen and with five PL titles he is one of the most decorated too. It is perhaps fitting then that he was the first goalie to ever score in the Premier League. However, the great Dane’s goal did not come for Man United, the side he is most closely associated with but instead for Aston Villa.
The Euro 92-winning shot-stopper played just one season at Villa, having moved from United there via two seasons in Portugal with Sporting. Few goalkeepers have actually scored more times than the man who won the Champions League with Man United as he registered 10 at club level and one for Denmark. The majority of his goals came in a single season with Danish minnows Hvidovre, when he recorded six in 28 league games in 1985! He also scored one for Man United in Europe in 1995, a header from a Ryan Giggs corner to salvage a 2-2 draw with Rotor Volgograd.
His historic Premier League goal came in a 3-2 defeat away at Everton. He became the first goalkeeper to score for Aston Villa but it was in vain, making the score 3-2 late on at Goodison Park. A corner came in and was flicked on beyond the far post. With the instincts of a great striker, Schmeichel had pulled into space there and produced an excellent volleyed finish with his right foot.
Brad Friedel v Charlton
Brad Friedel played 82 times for the United States and represented Blackburn, Liverpool, Aston Villa and Spurs in the PL. Most of his career was spent with Rovers and it was there that he scored his only goal. Like Schmeichel’s, the goal was ultimately meaningless and was scored in a 3-2 defeat. However, the American goalkeeper’s strike had appeared to be set to earn Rovers a point as it made the score 2-2 in the 89th minute. However, Friedel soon went from hero to zero, as almost immediately Charlton went up the field to score and make it 3-2, clinching the points in stoppage time.
Friedel’s moment of glory came when Australian Brett Emerton swung over a corner. It went to the far post but was missed by everyone, curling out towards the edge of the area to a waiting Blackburn player. From here, a cross-shot came in and was deflected back to Friedel who provided an instinctive low finish to send his teammates into raptures that would prove to be premature.
Paul Robinson v Watford
The third goalkeeper to score in the Premier League was former Leeds United star Paul Robinson. The man from Beverley, near Hull, played 41 times for England and the only league goal of his almost 20-year career came for Spurs, whom he joined in 2004. He took a free kick from about 10 yards outside his own area and with the wind in his favour he launched a long kick forward. The ball bounced just short of the penalty area and took a large bounce to leave a young Ben Foster stranded.
Foster, also in the England reckoning at the time, misjudged the flight of the ball and the bounce further troubled him. It was Robinson’s only PL goal but he had previously managed to score in the third round of the League Cup with his first club, Leeds. That was an injury time strike against Swindon, a stunning header from a corner to rescue his side at Elland Road. That took the match to extra time and Robinson even saved a penalty in the shootout that followed to help his side progress.
Tim Howard v Bolton
The second American on our list, Howard opened the scoring for the Toffees in a game they went on to lose 2-1. The strike was not from the 101 yards mentioned in the clip but, nonetheless, was an incredible, wind-assisted strike. As you can see, the ball really jumped off the surface and gave the Bolton keeper no chance. Howard clearly felt for his fellow goalie and did not celebrate the strike, or maybe he just knew the Toffees would go on to lose the match. Afterwards he explained that the wind had been a big issue for both sides all night, adding, “For our goal I was disappointed from a goalkeepers’ union standpoint. You never want to see that happen.”
Howard played 121 times for his country but never scored for the US and, in fact, never scored again in his 700-game career. However, he was an excellent shot-stopper and won the CONCACAF Gold Cup twice with his national side, as well as making the FA Cup final with Everton, for whom he appeared more than 400 times.
Asmir Begovic v Southampton
Begovic’s goal, like Howard’s, gave his club the lead, although Stoke, like Everton, were unable to hold onto it, eventually drawing 1-1. The Bosnian, who also played in the PL for Pompey, Chelsea, Bournemouth and Everton, scored after just 13 seconds! That’s what we call an amazing start! Begovic, like Howard, was humble about the incident, and indeed the goal shared much with the American’s. The Stoke stopped said afterwards, “It’s a cool feeling but it was a fortunate incident. I feel a bit bad for Boruc. It is a long ball that got caught in the wind and it took a wicked bounce. It’s not nice to be on the receiving end of those things as a goalkeeper. It does not make a goalkeeper look good and after it I did not want to celebrate out of respect for him”.
Begovic got into the record books for his strike too, Guinness World Records recognising it as the “longest goal scored in football” at the time at a massive 97.5 yards. Begovic was a fine keeper in his day and has enjoyed a lengthy career. Indeed, he is still playing with QPR as of 2023/24 and at the age of 36 may have a good few years left in him. Capped 63 times by his nation, Begovic was brilliant at Stoke, though his career stalled afterwards. His monstrous strike against the Saints remains his only career goal.
Alisson Becker v West Brom
Brazilian international Alisson, who often gets the nod ahead of Ederson when it comes to representing the Selecao, is the archetype of a modern goalkeeper. His distribution might not be quite as good as Ederson’s but one-on-one he is superb. He is also a strong, commanding presence in his box and, as he proved when scoring against West Brom, he is pretty decent with his head too.
Alisson’s late, late goal for the Reds is the only Premier League winner hit by a goalkeeper, and turned one point into three, Liverpool beating the Baggies 2-1. As with most of the goalies on this list, this is his only goal, although the official PL site shows that he has three assists to his name. That is good going from, at the time of writing, 180 Premier League appearances, and means he has the most goal contributions (goals and assists) of any PL keeper. His header against West Brom was a fine effort too, coming in the 95th minute from a Trent Alexander-Arnold corner. This was the first time a Liverpool goalie had ever hit the back of the net.
Notable Goalscoring Keepers
As we have seen, just six goalkeepers have scored in the Premier League but over the years and looking at the various competitions around the world, there have been many more goalscoring shot-stoppers. There are several of note but we will just look at three, starting with the record scorer for his position.
Brazilian keeper, Ceni, played for Sao Paolo for almost all of his senior career and in total played an incredible 1,237 games. That is a stunning tally over a long career that began in 1990 and ended in 2015 and saw the man from Pato Branco, Brazil, represent his nation 17 times. More incredible than all of that, and perhaps more impressive than any other footballing feat is the fact that this sensational goalkeeper also scored 129 goals (or 131 if you believe some sources… or 128 if you believe others)!
In 2005 he hit double-digits in league goals alone, scoring 10 times in 38 matches and that season bagged 21 in total. In all competitions he reached double figures in four separate seasons, including three times in a row between 2005 and 2007.
Unsurprisingly, many of his goals were from dead-ball situations and his remarkable tally includes a number of free kicks and penalties, though he did also score one goal from open play as well. There are conflicting reports about how many goals he scored in total and how exactly these were broken down, but if we accept the figure of 129 (we believe the figure of 131 includes some scored in unofficial matches) then it seems he banged in a massive 59 freekicks and 69 penalties (plus the one goal from open play).
José Luis Chilavert
Paraguayan legend José Luis Chilavert is perhaps better known than Ceni, although he “only” managed a mere 67 goals. That said, he “only” played around 800 fixtures so by Ceni’s crazy standards was virtually part time! He is, however, the record international goalscorer amongst goalkeepers, netting eight for Paraguay.
These international goals, including a fine free kick against Argentina, against whom he scored three times, perhaps explain why he is more widely known than Ceni. The fact he also played in Europe, for both Real Zaragoza and Strasbourg, is also undoubtedly a factor.
Like many goalies, especially those who clearly fancy themselves as outfield players, Chilavert was eccentric, to say the least. He was involved in a number of controversies but is one of just three stoppers to register a hat-trick and was the first to do so, and was also a magnificent goalie between his own posts. He even stood to be the President of Paraguay in 2023!
Colombian international, Higuita, is another full card-carrying member of the union of mad goalscoring international keepers. He may only rank fifth in terms of goals, behind the two names above, plus Mexico’s Jorge Campos and Johnny Vegas Fernandez (of Peru, not of St Helens!). However, a tally of 44 (possibly 43!) goals is still an impressive haul for a player whose main task is to stop the opposition from scoring.
His tally includes three for Colombia, for whom he played 68 times, including once against England in a Wembley friendly. It is at least partly for his brilliant scorpion kick in that match that we are including him. Who needs goals when you can make saves like that?
Higuita included Diego Maradona and Pablo Escobar among his friends and whilst he was involved in more than his fair share of controversy, he was incredible to watch. His goals were mostly penalties but he also recorded seven from free kicks and one with a long clearance from inside his own area.