The goalkeeper position is the most unfair in football, as goalies can do everything well and be the best in the world at some point, but most of the time when they make a single mistake, that’s the end for some of them. This happens a lot and it will continue to happen, but there are some mistakes worse than others.
It’s not the same failing to catch a ball during the first matchday of the season than in the final of a tournament. These errors have costed teams titles, sometimes against rivals that didn’t look dangerous on paper but took advantage of specific mistakes that earned goalies a lot of hate. We have seen plenty of these cases throughout history, but some of them have been more memorable than others.
Here are the 10 worst goalkeepers mistakes in definition games.
Honorable Mention: Felix vs. Italy (1970 FIFA World Cup)
10. Toni vs. Espanyol (2000 Copa del Rey)
At the beginning of the millennium, two teams from Catalonia and Madrid clashed in the Copa del Rey final. Atletico and Espanyol landed in Valencia’s stadium, Mestalla, to play a very entertaining match. Things started pretty well after Atletico’s goalie, Toni, starred one of the most embarrassing moments in the history of the competition.
After successfully stop a cross attempt, the keeper was ready to pass the ball to his teammates; little he knew that Raul Tamudo was on the hunt and when he saw his chance, didn’t hesitate to take it, stealing the ball from Toni and scoring an early goal that made the difference in the final outcome of the game. Espanyol ended up winning the game by 2-1 and that goal played a major role.
9. Oscar Cordoba vs. River Plate (1996 Copa Libertadores)
10 years following their first encounter, River Plate and America de Cali once again met in the Copa Libertadores final, with the Colombian side expecting to get revenge on the Argentinians, unfortunately failing at it. America won the first game by 1-0 and they appeared to have a good chance to win the tournament once and for all, but things fell apart.
Colombian national side legend Oscar Cordoba had poor participation in the second leg that helped River Plate get the W and the title. The series was tied after Hernan Crespo’s goal at the 6th minute of the encounter when Cordoba left his area in order to clear the ball with his left leg; instead of sending the ball to the stands, he passed it to River’s Escudero, who then passed the ball to Crespo and the latter made River South American Champion once again.
8. Oliver Kahn vs. Brazil (2002 FIFA World Cup)
Not even the best are exempt of making mistakes; we already saw Oscar Cordoba costing a title to his team and now is the turn of German legend Oliver Kahn. Back in 2002, Kahn was the best goalkeeper in the world, displaying all the best of his game every single game; for instance, ‘Der Titan’ played a huge role in the World Cup, as he managed to take Germany to the final almost by himself.
However, when the big game arrived, Oliver choked and costed his team the right to win its fourth World Cup title. Past the hour of the game, Rivaldo sent a non-powerful shot that Kahn incredibly couldn’t handle; Ronaldo Nazario was there to catch the rebound and netted the ball to give Brazil a lead they never lost. That day Germany lost by 2-0 after Ronaldo scored a second goal, but Kahn had nothing to do against that one.
7. Harald Schumacher vs. Argentina (1986 FIFA World Cup)
Harald Schumacher was one of the best goalkeepers of his generation, but he also had a questionable reputation, so it’s not a surprise if everybody was happy when he made costly mistakes that allowed Argentina to win its second World Cup in histor.
First, Argentina took the lead when Schumacher missed a free kick from the right, allowing Jose Luis Brown to head home. Later on, the Teutons were drawing the game 2-2, when Schumacher again failed to try to protect his goal; he didn’t act as fast as necessary and Jorge Burruchaga netted the winner following Diego Maradona’s pass.
6. Carlos Trucco and Claudio Taffarel (1997 Copa America)
These two share the same spot because they did something incredible and that’s having mistakes in the same game. Argentinian-born Bolivian goaltender Carlos Trucco and Brazilian Claudio Taffarel went head to head during the 1997 Copa America final, hosted in Bolivia, leaving fans two of the worst errors made in finals ever.
First, Trucco couldn’t manage a free kick by Roberto Carlos, where Edmundo took advantage and scored the first goal of the match. Later on, Taffarel would go to do something similar by not being able to control Erwin Sanchez’s shot that didn’t look too dangerous. In the end, the Green and Yellow won the game thanks to a 3-1 outcome, but the biggest headline of the match were these two keepers.
5. David Seaman vs. Real Zaragoza (1995 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup)
David Seaman is a total legend in Arsenal, but the Englishman committed serious mistakes throughout his career, costing several chances to succeed to his teams. It’s now remembered as one of the biggest blunders in World Cup the goal Seaman gifted Ronaldinho during the 2002 tournament. However, we’re talking about finals here and that didn’t take place in those instances.
The reason we’re talking about Seaman here is his participation in the 1995 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup when Arsenal was taking on Real Zaragoza. A hard-fought match between English and Spaniards was decided by a halfway-line goal from former Tottenham player ‘Nayim’, who took his shot and sailed it over Seaman’s head in the last minute of extra-time.
Zaragoza won the game 2-1 at Parc des Prince, creating one of the most shocking moments in the history of the defunct tournament.
4. Moacir Barbosa Nascimento vs. Uruguay (1950 FIFA World Cup)
This guy has received a lot of criticism and hate ever since that infamous game that saw Brazil lost the chance to win its first World Cup trophy in history. The ‘Maracanazo’ is still regarded as one of the most incredible feats in football history, but some people claim Uruguay had some sort of help from Brazilian keeper Moacir Barbosa Nascimento.
Barbosa was recently voted as the best goalie of the 1950 FIFA World Cup and one of the best of his generations. However, a simple mistake made become one of the most hated players in the Little Canary’s history.
Brazil only needed a draw to win the WC, and they were doing exactly that in front of Uruguay, but when the clock was ticking and Brazil was getting closer to lift the trophy, Alcides Ghiggia run through the right flank of the pitch and when he was nearly Barbosa’s area, the goalie thought he was going to make a cross, but shot low towards the near post instead, beating Barbosa and giving Uruguay the 2-1 victory that made the Sky Blue World Champions for the second time in history.
3. Luis Arconada vs. France (1984 UEFA Euro)
Luis Arconada had a marvelous career at a club and international level and sometimes it’s unfair he’s mostly remembered for this goal he let slip when Spain was taking on France during the 1984 EURO final.
French legend Michel Platini took a free kick that didn’t look too dangerous; it was a smooth shot more than anything. Arconada easily caught it in the first place, but when people thought the play was over, the ball slipped off his hands and went through the net. That was the first goal of the two France scored that day to win the Eurocup.
2. Viliam Schrojf vs. Brazil (1962 FIFA World Cup)
Schrojf suffered a fate similar to some players in our list since he had a nearly perfect tournament for his Czechoslovakia. The team managed to qualify round after round until the final when they faced Brazil in a clash of titans.
Viliam came up with two mistakes that made his side lost the 1-0 advantage they had and the chance to become World Champions. First, he left his near post open, leaving the way clear for Amarildo to equalize. Later, with Brazil winning by 2-1, Schrojf mightily miscalculated a high ball into the box and Vava didn’t miss the chance from a few yards out.
1. Loris Karius vs. Real Madrid (2017/18 UEFA Champions League)
This is the most recent case of these types of mistakes, and probably the biggest reference of keepers errors in finals. Almost a year ago, Liverpool and Real Madrid landed in Kyiv to play the Champions League final; several players were set to shine and take their respective squads to the top, but ultimately it was Loris Karius who stole the spotlight.
The German goalie was responsible for the first and third goal Los Blancos scored; first, he intended to pass the ball to his teammates with his hands and even knowing Karim Benzema was standing right in front of him, he decided to let the ball go and the Cat just had to interpose his leg to push the ball to the net. Later, when the game was ending, a shot by Gareth Bale looked very manageable for Karius, but he stumped and incredibly let the ball go to put the definite scoreboard. Madrid won by 3-1 and Karius had one of the worst nights of his life.