France's 15 Greatest Goalkeepers of All Time

Who is the best France goalkeeper ever?

France national team is known as one of the strongest football teams in the world. The country has won a World Cup trophy, two Euro championships and one Olympic gold medal. There are many French players, such as Michel Platini, Zinedine Zidane, or Thierry Henry who have attained status as legends in the world of football.

One more important fact, France national team's success in winning various championships cannot be separated from the roles of their goalkeepers who performed brilliantly. In this article I presented short profiles of fifteen greatest French goalkeepers from time to time. Which one is your favorite? Be sure to vote at the end of this article!

15. Lionel Charbonnier

Lionel Charbonnier was France national team third goalkeeper in the 1998 World Cup, under Bernard Lama and Fabien Barthez. He made his debut with Auxerre in 1988 and presented the Ligue 1 title for the club in 1996. He moved to Glasgow Rangers only few weeks after the 1998 World Cup and in his first season he claimed treble winners, even though he was absent for almost six months due to crucial ligament injury.

14. Teddy Richert

Teddy Richert is a former goalkeeper who exhibit solid performances, but was not too popular among football fans. This player debuted in 1991 and retired in 2012. He spent most of his career playing for French League clubs. He also did not get a chance to represent his country in international tournaments because of the dominance of Fabien Barthez and Gregory Coupet. Richert's best individual achievement was winning French League Goalkeeper of the Year award in 2007.

13. Sébastien Frey

Sebastien Frey stole public's attention when he performed brilliantly with Hellas Verona in the 1999-00 season. Frey who was an Inter Milan loanee managed to save Verona from the relegation zone and created a record as Serie A goalkeeper with the best ratings of the season. After his brief career at Verona, he moved to several clubs such as Parma, Fiorentina and Genoa. Just like Teddy Richert, Frey also got very minimum chance to play for France national team despite his fairly consistent performances.

12. Mickaël Landreau

With a total of more than 600 caps, Mickael Landreau holds the record as the player with the most number of appearances in Ligue 1. He spent 18 years of his career as a professional footballer playing for Nantes, Paris Saint-Germain, Lille, and Bastia. He also won the Ligue 1 with two different teams, Nantes in 2001 and Lille in 2011. Landreau was part of France national team that became the runner-up of the 2006 World Cup, although he did not play in the tournament.

11. Bruno Martini

Bruno Martini was the French national team goalkeeper in the 1992 European Cup. He spent 13 years of his club career playing for Auxerre. Throughout his career, Martini appeared in 322 Ligue 1 games with Auxerre. He was forced to move to Montpellier in 1995 due to the emergence of Lionel Charbonnier who took his position as the number one goalkeeper. After retiring in 1999, Martini worked as a goalkeeper coach of France national football team.

10. Dominique Baratelli

With a total record of 539 matches, Baratelli becomes the third player with the highest number of caps in the history of Ligue 1. He spent 18 years of his career as a professional footballer with three different clubs, Ajaccio, Nice, and PSG. He was also part of the French squad in the 1978 and 1982 World Cup although he only acted as a backup goalie. His best achievement at club level was winning the French Cup trophies in 1982 and 1983 at Paris Saint-Germain.

9. Georges Carnus

Geroges Carnus was the number one goalkeeper of Saint-Etienne's golden generation in the late 1960s. At the club, he won three Ligue 1 titles and two French Cup trophies. He moved to Marseille in 1971, and it turned out that with the club Carnus was still able to win a Ligue 1 title and a French Cup trophy. Throughout his 15-year career as a professional footballer, Carnus represented his country in 32 international matches.

8. Ulrich Rame

Ulrich Rame is legendary Bordeaux goalkeeper. He joined the club for 14 years, from 1997 to 2001. During that period, his position as the number one goalkeeper was almost irreplaceable. He was highly revered by Bordeaux fans due to his major role in helping the club win two Ligue 1 titles and three French Cup trophies. Rame was also part of France national team that won Euro 2000, although he did not play in any single game in the tournament.

7. Jean-Luc Ettori

Jean-Luc Ettori known as one of the best AS Monaco players of all time. He played in 602 Ligue 1 games, making him the second player with the highest number of appearances in the tournament's history. During his 17-year career as a professional footballer from 1975 to 1992, Ettori only played for a club, AS Monaco. He also became France national team number-one goalkeeper in the 1982 World Cup.

6. Steve Mandanda

Mandada was regarded as one of the players who were able to restore the reputation of Olympique Marseille as one of the league's elite club of France, after the club spent most of its time under the shadow of Lyon in the early 2000s. In the first season of joining Marseille, Mandada immediately won individual award of Ligue 1 Goalkeeper of the Year 2007-08. Two seasons later, he presented a Ligue 1 title for Marseille. Currently, he is a strong candidate for number one goalkeeper of France national team, tightly competing with Hugo Lloris.

5. Hugo Lloris

Hugo Lloris is not only known for his outstanding ability as a goalkeeper, but also for his leadership qualities. He was appointed as the captain of the French national team during the 2014 World Cup qualifications and always showed consistent performance for his country. His popularity developed rapidly when he joined Olympique Lyonnais in 2008. During four years joining the club, he won three Ligue 1 Goalkeeper of the Year awards.

4. Bernard Lama

Before the emergence of Fabien Barthez, Bernard Lama was the number one goalkeeper of France national team. The best period of his career occurred in 1994, when Lama won the Ligue 1 title with Paris Saint-Germain and personally awarded as the best French player of the competition. In 1996, he again scored a brilliant achievement by helping Paris Saint-Germain win the Winners' Cup. Lama was included in France national team squad in two international tournaments, the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000.

3. Grégory Coupet

Gregory Coupet is the most successful French goalkeeper in the history of Ligue 1. When playing for Lyon, he seven times in a row won Ligue 1, from 2002 to 2008. His collaboration with great players such as Juninho, Sidney Govou, and Florent Malouda helped Lyon to be the king in the domestic competition. Unfortunately, his career at national team level was not as great as his career at club level. He was always under the shadow of Fabien Barthez. When he finally got the chance to play as the number one goalkeeper at Euro 2008, he did not perform well. France conceded six goals, and was eliminated from the torunament in the first round.

2. Joël Bats

Joel Bats was the number one goalkeeper of France national team in the 1980s to early 1990s. He helped his country win the 1984 European Cup and made a brilliant penalty save against Zico in the 1986 World Cup. Not only known for his formidable in goalkeeping abilities, Bats was also very good in organizing and directing the defenders. He spent his career playing for three French League clubs; Sochaux, Auxerre and Paris Saint-Germain.

1. Fabien Barthez

Speaking about the best French goalkeeper of all time, we should definitely mention the name Fabien Barthez. This bald-haired goalkeeper played a major role in helping his country win the 1998 World Cup, Euro 2000, and the Confederations Cup 2003. Not only agile, Barthez also never hesitated to go forward in order to intercept the opponent's attack. At club level, he won a Champions League trophy, two Ligue 1 titles, and two Premier League championships. Along with Peter Shilton, Barthez holds the record for the highest number of clean sheets in a World Cup tournament, with a record of ten matches without conceding a single goal.

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