10 Best Penalty Savers In Premier League History – RANKED

Penalties have always been a massive part of football. They can simply win or lose games with just one kick. These days the opportunity for goalkeepers to study their opponents’ penalty takers has never been easier, with cameras at every match around the world, allowing for hours of footage to be used to their advantage. So here’s a look at the goalkeepers who have the best ratio of saving spot kicks since the Prem began in 1992. This list is purely ranked on penalties saved in Premier League matches. To qualify, the keeper must have faced at least 10 penalty kicks in the PL. This lot definitely knew how to keep their eye on the ball from 12 yards…

10. Mark Crossley

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Penalties Faced: 19

Penalties Saved: 6

Save Percentage: 31.6%

Welsh international Mark Crossley was one of the best in the business at saving penalties. Crossley spent 11 seasons in total in the Premier League for Middlesbrough and Fulham, but he is most fondly remembered for his time at Nottingham Forest, where he enjoyed his best years between the sticks. The goalkeeper saved 6 penalties during the Premier League era, the most memorable stop being against Southampton legend Matt Le Tissier in March 1993 – the only spot kick Le Tissier missed during his entire career. He is also one of three goalkeepers on this list (see also numbers 9 & 6) to save 3 consecutive penalty kicks in the Premier League, back in 1999. Away from the Prem, Crossley continued to be hard to beat from 12 yards, including saving 3 penalties in an FA Cup shootout victory against Tottenham in 1996. But undoubtedly his most famous save was from Spurs striker Gary Lineker in the 1991 FA Cup final, making him (at the time) only the second keeper to save a penalty kick in an FA Cup final. As this list is restricted to just Premier League matches, it doesn’t really do Crossley justice, because throughout his 23 year playing career, in all competitions, he has reportedly saved over 50% of all penalties that he’s faced. Impressive stuff.

9. David Seaman

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Penalties Faced: 22

Penalties Saved: 7

Save Percentage: 31.8%

Arsenal’s greatest ever goalkeeper, David Seaman, was known around the world for his penalty heroics, making vital saves from 12 yards in every competition he played in. The Premier League was where he had most success, saving 7 spot kicks from the 22 he faced. Notable saves included, denying West Ham’s Frederic Kanoute and Aston Villa’s Gareth Barry, both in 2002, on Arsenal’s run-in to winning a second Premier League title. Even then as a 38 year old, Seaman was still widely regarded as one of the world’s best. On two occasions for the Gunners, Seaman saved three penalties in a shootout, in an FA Cup third round win over Millwall in 1993 and in a European Cup Winners Cup semi-final victory against Sampdoria in 1995. The Yorkshireman also saved 4 penalties for England. The two that are mostly forgotten happened in 1998; Firstly against Hernan Crespo in the World Cup second-round penalty shootout defeat to Argentina, and secondly against Luxembourg in a Euro 2000 qualifier when the score was at 0-0. Euro ’96 however, is where Seaman’s penalty saves will be remembered the most. His save against Scotland’s Gary McAllister’s spot kick was quickly followed by Paul Gascoigne’s wonder goal, sixty seconds that transformed the whole tournament for England. In the quarter-final against Spain, his stop from Miguel Nadal in the penalty shootout sent England through to the semi-finals on home soil. Whenever he was interviewed about penalties, Seaman would always exaggerate, saying he had a special technique for saving them, just to get into the penalty takers heads. Proof that the big man had a ruthless side to him, as well as being a genuine, top bloke.

8. Mark Bosnich

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Penalties Faced: 18

Penalties Saved: 6

Save Percentage: 33.3%

There was a period during the 1993/94 season at Aston Villa when Mark Bosnich seemed to save every penalty that was taken against him. Indeed he stopped 5 out of 6 spot kicks in normal time that campaign. Early in that season against Birmingham City and Sunderland in the early rounds of the League Cup, Bosnich helped Villa progress with penalty stops in each tie. His most impressive save came in the UEFA Cup second-round tie against Deportivo La Coruna, pushing Brazilian star Bebeto’s strike round the post. Manager Ron Atkinson claiming at the time that it was the ‘greatest penalty save I’ve ever seen’. The final two saves of that season were in the same match, during the Premier League fixture against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane in March 1994, Darren Anderton and Nick Barmby the unfortunate players to miss. This made the Australian the first keeper in Premier League history to save two penalty kicks in one game. Bosnich saved 6 Premier League penalties in total, five for Villa and one during his return to Manchester United. But it was during that incredible 1993/94 campaign, where Bosnich will forever be in Villa fan’s hearts for his outstanding performance during the League Cup semi-final against Tranmere Rovers, as the game went into a penalty shootout. With millions watching at home on ITV on a Sunday afternoon, Bosnich saved 3 penalties in the shootout, including one stop to keep them in the tie and then the vital save at 5-4 to win it for Villa. Cue thousands of fans flooding on to the pitch and Aston Villa in their first domestic final for 17 years. Villa went on to win the final 3-1 against Manchester United, but they certainly have Bosnich to thank for getting there. Years later he said his technique was to watch the non-kicking foot and slow things down like a camera. There’s no denying it brought ‘Bozza’ a lot of success and gave Villa fans some unforgettable moments.

7. Artur Boruc

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Penalties Faced: 14

Penalties Saved: 5

Save Percentage: 35.7%

Following spells at Celtic and Fiorentina, Polish international Artur Boruc moved to the south coast at Southampton in 2012, soon establishing himself as their number one goalkeeper during his two seasons there – saving one penalty in the process, against Norwich City’s Grant Holt. Southampton made the major signing of Fraser Forster in the summer of 2014 and Boruc was loaned to Bournemouth, where he helped the Cherries to a historic promotion to the Premier League for the first time in their history. Bournemouth then signed Boruc permanently in the summer of 2015 and in his first two seasons in the top flight, he went on to help his side finish 16th and 9th, respectively. During that time he also saved 4 more penalties in the Premier League for Bournemouth. Riyad Mahrez of eventual champions Leicester City, West Brom’s Craig Gardner, Crystal Palace midfielder Yohan Cabaye and the Swedish legend Zlatan Ibrahimovic of Man Utd, all failing to beat Boruc. The last name on that list must have been extra satisfying for the goalkeeper, as ”Zlatan doesn’t miss penalties”. Even though Boruc hasn’t had much game time during the past two seasons, the 38 year old has recently got back in the side, where his huge frame can always be counted on, especially from 12 yards.

6. Simon Mignolet

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Penalties Faced: 28

Penalties Saved: 10

Save Percentage: 35.7

It’s an incredible statistic that since Simon Mignolet signed for Sunderland in 2010, he has faced 28 penalties in the Premier League – by far the most on this list. The Belgian is also the only keeper on here whose saves go into double figures. In his three seasons at The Stadium Of Light, Mignolet saved 3 penalties in the Prem from 11 faced. Even better numbers followed his move to Liverpool in 2013, where he has saved 7 from 17 for the Reds in the top flight. Not including his two vital saves from 12 yards in the League Cup semi-final shootout victory in 2016 to send Liverpool to Wembley. Mignolet isn’t shy in claiming he is good at stopping spot kicks either. Speaking in 2017 he said ”I’m a specialist in penalties, but I have to give credit to the analysts at the club. They give us the bio of the taker before the game and the insight.” This is a prime example of the modern day goalkeeper’s approach of saving penalties. The information before a game is priceless these days and clubs employ analysts to keep tabs on every potential penalty taker they play against. Keepers now spend much of their time at the club with their goalkeeping coach watching this video analysis, while preparing for matches. The 30 year old has been frustrated this season, playing back up to current Liverpool number one, Alisson, but he looks certain to move on in the summer, where Mignolet’s expertise at penalties certainly has to be regarded as an asset wherever he goes.

4= Fraser Forster

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Penalties Faced: 10

Penalties Saved: 4

Save Percentage: 40%

Before his move from Celtic to Southampton in 2014, Fraser Forster already had a good reputation for saving penalties north of the border. Forster stopped 7 spot kicks during his four seasons at Celtic, between both the Scottish Premiership and the UEFA Champions League. Following his transfer to St Mary’s, Forster didn’t actually face a penalty of any sort in 48 Premier League matches during his first two seasons. That soon changed during the 2016/17 campaign however, when the goalkeeper was in goal for 9 penalties in the Premier League (the most of any goalkeeper that season), saving 3 of them – including a James Milner pen at Anfield, where Forster was accused of unsportsmanlike behaviour for winding up his former England teammate as he placed the ball on the spot, where Forster had already made a divot with his boot. Another penalty save during the 2017/18 confirmed Forster as one of the best keepers from 12 yards. Unfortunately for Fraser Forster, he has not played in a competitive fixture for Southampton since December 2017, due to injury and Southampton’s preference to Alex McCarthy and signing of Angus Gunn – who ironically is the son of who is tied with Forster on this list…

4= Bryan Gunn

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Penalties Faced: 10

Penalties Saved: 4

Save Percentage: 40%

Bryan Gunn is regarded as a legend down at Carrow Road. After moving to Norwich City in 1986, he was their goalkeeper during the Canaries most successful season ever, when they finished in 3rd place in the top flight in 1993. He also played an important role in their historic UEFA Cup campaign in 1993/94, where they beat European giants Bayern Munich in their own back yard. The Scotsman stayed at Norwich following his retirement from playing in 1999, to take up various roles in the club, before eventually managing the side for a period in 2009. It’s no wonder then, that he was one of 25 inaugural members inducted into the ‘Norwich City Hall Of Fame’. Gunn was also one of the best at saving penalties. Of the 10 pens he faced during his three years in the Premier League with Norwich (1992-95), Gunn managed to save 4 efforts, giving him one of the best saving ratios in Prem history. The former keeper has since relocated to the north-west, where his son Angus, came though ranks at Manchester City; for whom the youngster saved three penalties of his own in a pre-season tournament against Borussia Dortmund in 2016. A loan move back to his Dad’s team Norwich during the 2017/18 campaign, impressed Southampton enough to purchase Gunn Jnr, where he now is trying to force his way into the first team. Proud moments I’m sure for his father, Bryan, whose heroics in Norfolk mean he will forever be known as Mr Norwich.

3. Pavel Srnicek

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Penalties Faced: 12

Penalties Saved: 5

Save Percentage: 41.7%

You may be surprised to find the late Pavel Srnicek on this list, I know I was. But the stats don’t lie and the Czech goalkeeper has one of the highest percentages of penalties saved in the Premier League era. Of the 12 pens he was up against, 5 were kept out. Three of these were from his time at Newcastle United, where during his 7 seasons there, he became the longest-serving foreign player ever at St James’ Park. Indeed Srnicek was a bit of a cult figure at Newcastle, after revealing a t-shirt saying ‘Pavel is Geordie’ when the Toon Army were promoted to the top flight in 1993 – a phrase that eventually became his chant at the Gallowgate End and was the title of his autobiography. He was also part of the Newcastle side that so famously lost the title to Manchester United in 1996. It was his move to Sheffield Wednesday however, that gave him his most memorable moment from 12 yards. In December 1999, Srnicek saved not one, but two penalties in a match away to the league-leaders Aston Villa. Both were fantastic stops from Dion Dublin and Paul Merson, but it wasn’t quite enough for Wednesday, as a resilient Villa still scraped a 2-1 win. Those saves though, made Srnicek only the second keeper to save two penalties in one match. Sadly, in more recent times, Pavel Srnicek suffered a cardiac arrest while out jogging in his home country and died on January 4th, 2016. Not only did his former teammates flock to his funeral in the Czech Republic, but a book of condolence was opened in a Newcastle city church where fans could pay their respects. He will be missed on Tyneside and throughout the football world.

2. Manuel Almunia

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Penalties Faced: 14

Penalties Saved: 6

Save Percentage: 42.9%

Probably just as well known for the two successful years he had in the Championship with Watford at the end of his career, Manuel Almunia’s Premier League penalty saves all came for Arsenal. Following a move from Spain in 2004, Almunia was back-up to Jens Lehmann for the first three years of his time in North London, but still won an FA Cup winners medal in 2005. Indeed the Spaniard saved two penalties for Arsenal in the FA Cup fourth-round penalty shootout victory over Sheffield United, which was obviously a vital match towards their cup success that season. He also came on as sub in the 2006 Champions League final against Barcelona, after number one keeper Lehmann was sent off in the first half – a match the Gunners eventually lost 2-1. Finally in 2007, the Spaniard won the battle to be first-choice keeper, where he kept his place for the next three seasons. During that time Almunia became a hero at the new Emirates Stadium, saving 5 penalties in total from 13, stopping Robbie Keane, Ashley Young and Obafemi Martins amongst others. The arrival of Polish keeper Wojciech Szczesny in the summer of 2010, gave Almunia some fresh competition and he lost his place in the side, despite saving one last penalty in September 2010 from West Brom’s Chris Brunt. This was Almunia’s last real contribution for Arsenal as he was loaned to second tier West Ham in 2011 and then moved permanently to Watford a year later. Unfortunately, Almunia retired with immediate effect in 2014, following a club medical which showed a rare heart condition. He may have been a late bloomer in goalkeeping respects, but Almunia was a popular figure down at Arsenal and without a doubt was one of the best around at saving penalty kicks.

1. Dmitri Kharine

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Penalties Faced: 11

Penalties Saved: 5

Save Percentage: 45.5%

Now come on, be honest, there’s absolutely no way you thought that we’d be finishing this countdown with Dmitri Kharine at number one, is there?? Believe me, I’m as shocked as you are, but the best penalty saver in Premier League history is the former Chelsea and Russian goalkeeper! Kharine signed for Chelsea in December 1992 for £400,000 and was mainly a back-up during that first season. When Glenn Hoddle took over in 1993 however, Kharine was installed as number one goalkeeper and he stayed there for Hoddle‘s three years at Stamford Bridge, until the manager left to take up the England job. Injuries and the signing of Dutch international keeper Ed De Goey limited the Russian to just 20 appearances in his final three seasons at the west London club. Despite this, Kharine still faced 11 penalties during his time as Chelsea player in the Premier League and stopped 5 of them. An incredible record which you can also add a European Cup Winners Cup penalty save to during the 1994/95 season. Ironically it was the two most famous penalty kicks he faced that Kharine was unable to keep out; Eric Cantona scored twice from the spot in the 1994 FA Cup final defeat to Manchester United, going the same way on both occasions. Looking back now that was purely a battle of nerve – one of the best penalty takers ever, versus one of the best penalty savers ever. That final alone just goes to show what a great spot-kick taker Cantona was. Kharine stayed in the UK after his retirement, taking up the role of Luton Town’s goalkeeping coach from 2004 to 2013, before moving to Stevenage for the same position during the short reign of Teddy Sheringham as manager. He is currently goalkeeping coach for National League South side Hemel Hempstead Town. That team must surely be the best in their division at saving penalties!

All goalkeepers will have different techniques when facing spot-kicks. Whether it’s the wobbly legs of Bruce Grobbelaar, standing big like Seaman or watching the run-up like Bosnich, it’s all about putting the penalty taker off. And if you’ve done your homework, like many keepers do nowadays, then it can pay off in a big way. Who can forget Jordan Pickford in the World Cup last year, writing on his water bottle to remind him which way he expected his opponents to go, after hours of research, and eventually saving the fifth vital kick. It’s definitely becoming harder and harder to actually score a penalty in the modern game. Just ask former Aston Villa striker Juan Pablo Angel, who missed 5 out of the 10 penalties he took in the Premier League. A poor 50% record he shares with Fabrizio Ravenelli. Alexis Sanchez and Chris Brunt. The goalkeepers certainly did their homework on those four!

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Fulham goalkeeper Edwin Van Der Sar, saved two penalties in the same match from Aston Villa striker Juan Pablo Angel in February 2005. 

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4 thoughts on “10 Best Penalty Savers In Premier League History – RANKED

  1. Penalties has always been something that has fascinated me since I was a kid. I can remember the Italia 90 game on the mega drive which was a terrible game until the penalties which were immense. I used to sometimes make sure the game finished a draw just so I could play the shoot out haha. I still can’t believe penalties just weren’t an option on that game.

    Great read, can’t believe kharine is number one. It would be good to see some of there other penalty stats to see if they were as prolific outside of the prem competition.

    Liked by 1 person

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