Being a goal-keeper is not an easy task, considering the fact how many efforts go into vain only if you slip up even for a tiny fraction of a second. It is a rare occasion that the goal-keepers are totted out on others’ shoulders, wherein all the praises are hogged by the strikers and the attackers.
To underline this statement, even an elite tournament like the Euro Cup hasn’t got an official award for the best goal-keeper and hence, all the heroics performed by the last guard of the citadel is only penned through the roars of the onlookers or maybe a pat on the back by the preceptor.
Given the fact that an official award is still to be fixed for the diligent and persistent guardsmen, we will take a look at the best goal-keepers of Euro 2020 by the numbers.
Most clean sheets:
Jordan Pickford – 5 clean sheets
Despite bowing out on tie-breaker to the mighty Italians, Pickford was England’s unsung hero. An absolute rock under the woodwork, he kept at bay the likes of Croatia, Czech Republic, Germany and Ukraine in a convincing fashion. He definitely had substantial aid from his rearguard comprising the likes of Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw, but he too seemed impenetrable until the final. Even in the grand finale, it needed a goal-mouth scrimmage for Bonucci to fire home, and Pickford couldn’t have simply done anything more. He was once again shining at his majestic best in the war of fortunes only for the English strikers to make a hash of affairs.
Gianluigi Donnarumma – 3 clean sheets
The man who cooked quite a controversy before coming to the Euros, especially as he left the likes of AC Milan for a more lucrative move, emerged as the hero for the Italian renaissance. Italy was off to a fiery start as they romped past Turkey, Switzerland and Wales without conceding a solitary goal. Despite letting his guard down in the knockouts quite a few times, Donna ensured that he bailed the Azzurri out of two consecutive tie-breakers to sail them hammer and tongs to the glorious silverware after 53 long years.
Thibaut Courtois – 3 clean sheets
Despite enduring an ouster from the Euros at the hands of eventual champions, Italy, Courtois managed to conjure three clean sheets from just four games. It was his towering stature that protected Belgium’s fortress against the menace of Cristiano Ronaldo in a pulsating encounter with Portugal. Sadly, for him, he was stunned by Italy’s blitzkrieg and despite a desperate attempt to plug the deficit, the effort wasn’t enough for the Devils to continue with their residence in the tournament.
Yann Sommer – 21 saves
This man was an absolute beast under the woodwork, despite a sloppy defensive play from Switzerland. The Monchengladbach custodian hurled himself to the likes of anything and everything against formidable oppositions like France, Spain and Italy, making him one of the most revered custodians to have graced the sport. He almost single-handedly stymied Spain only to be knocked out to a tormenting tie-breaker.
Ugurcan Cakir, Kasper Schmeichel and Danny Ward – 18 saves
These three goal-keepers deserve a special mention given their limited sojourn in the tournament. Denmark’s Schmeichel arrived until the semis, only to be beaten by a disputable penalty call against England. Cakir and Ward, on the contrary, were shown the door after the opening rounds and yet they managed to master 18 saves, a figure that even the finalists couldn’t pull off.
It is also an important aspect for goal-keepers to concede the least number of goals. However, bringing this piece of stat can be a bit controversial, given the number of matches that the goal-keeper was a part of. Jordan Pickford conceded the least number of goals with 2 while Donnarumma followed suit with four. Given the fact that they have played the highest number of matches, hence I believe that these two names will matter.
Coming to the most difficult part of goal-keeping, saving spot-kicks is an achievement that one would like to take pride in. A total of six penalties were saved which starred the likes of Ukraine’s Bushchan, North Macedonia’s Dimitrievski, Slovakia’s Martin Dúbravka, Finland’s Lukáš Hrádecký, France’s Hugo Lloris and Denmark’s Kasper Schmeichel. Unai Simon pulled off three penalty saves in the tie-breaker that was followed by Yann Sommer and Gianluigi Donnarumma.