Football has seen some curious crossovers in its history — as should be expected, given the sport is over 150 years old. Given that, it should come to no one’s surprise to learn that many of the game’s top goalkeepers have, at some point in their careers, crossed paths with another top-quality goalkeeper.
But sometimes, there are goalkeepers that we completely forgot ever shared a locker room together. These are goalkeepers who at one point called each other teammates, but whose time together has been forgotten by most football fans.
Below are seven goalkeeper pairs that make us go, “Oh yeah, they were once teammates.”
Before we proceed, a few ground rules:
-I will only be considering goalkeepers that played together at the club level. I’m not counting national team teammates because I think that would just make things easier.
-I will only be looking at goalkeepers that were teammates on senior club teams. Those that were teammates on a youth team or a reserve team (such as one-time FC Barcelona B teammates Víctor Valdés and Pepe Reina) will not be considered for this list.
-This is not a ‘who’s better?’ kind of list. I’m not ranking these goalkeeper pairs from best to worst or vice-versa; I’m only listing seven of the ones that I found most interesting.
With that said, let’s start with the poster boys of this topic…
Jan Oblak / Ederson Moraes; Rio Ave
Everyone who has followed this topic — that being obscure former teammates — knows that goalkeepers Jan Oblak and Ederson Moraes, now of Atletico Madrid and Manchester City, were once club teammates in Portugal.
What most people don’t know is that Oblak and Ederson were not teammates at SL Benfica. Although both goalkeepers did play for the 37-time Portuguese league champions at one point in their careers, they were never with the team at the same time. Rather, it was at a different Portuguese club, Rio Ave, that the two goalkeepers shared a locker room.
Oblak and Ederson were teammates for the 2012-13 season — their lone season together. Both goalkeepers, then just teenagers, joined Rio Ave in the summer of 2012: Ederson signed a permanent deal from second division-club Ribeirão, while Oblak was loaned to the club from Benfica.
It was the slightly older Oblak that was given the bulk of the starting duties. The Slovenian made 31 appearances, including 28 league appearances, as Rio Ave finished sixth in the Portuguese Primeira Liga — their highest finish since 1982.
Ederson did get some minutes; he made seven total appearances, including five appearances across the Taça de Portugal and the Taça da Liga.
The two goalkeepers went their separate ways following the 2012-13 season. Oblak returned to Benfica and assumed starting duties for the 2013-14 season, helping them win the Portuguese domestic treble — including two domestic cup final wins over Rio Ave — and reach the Europa League final. Ederson spent two more seasons with Rio Ave, making 28 appearances in both 2013-14 and 2014-15, before joining Benfica in the summer of 2015.
Fun fact: Oblak and Ederson were coached by current Wolverhampton manager Nuno Espírito Santo. The 2012-13 season was actually Nuno’s first season as a top-flight manager.
Speaking of Nuno…
Nuno Espírito Santo / Jacques Songo’o; Deportivo La Coruña
One could make a pretty interesting list of players Nuno Espírito Santo has played with: Deco, Ricardo Carvalho, Hulk, and Radamel Falcao are just some of the names the former goalkeeper has shared a locker room with.
But for this list’s purposes, Nuno’s most enticing (and maybe surprising) former teammate is Cameroonian football icon Jacques Songo’o, who he spent time with at Deportivo La Coruña.
Nuno joined the Spanish club in January 1997, just a few months after Songo’o’s arrival from FC Metz. Nuno cost Deportivo $1 million, but given Songo’o’s status as Deportivo’s starting goalkeeper — he won the Ricardo Zamora Trophy, Spain’s top goalkeeper award, that season — the unfancied Nuno was forced to spend the second half of 1996-97 season, as well as the subsequent 1997-98 season, as a reserve option. Deportivo finished third and twelfth in those seasons.
Those would end up being the only seasons the two goalkeepers shared as teammates. Nuno was loaned to Mérida for the 1998-99 and 1999-2000 seasons, and then to Osasuna for 2000-01. By the time he returned to Deportivo for the 2001-02 season — his final season with the club before his move to Porto — Songo’o had rejoined Metz.
Bonus fact: Peter Rufai, considered to be one of Nigeria’s greatest ever goalkeepers, was also Nuno and Songo’o’s teammate during the 1997-98 season.
David de Gea / Sergio Asenjo; Atletico Madrid
Now of the Premier League’s Manchester United and La Liga’s Villarreal, David de Gea and Sergio Asenjo were once considered to be top Spanish goalkeeping prospects at about the same time. Both goalkeepers accumulated multiple caps for Spain’s youth teams in the late 2000s, and both goalkeepers backstopped La Roja to international glory at the youth level; Asenjo in the 2007 U-19 Euros and De Gea in the 2007 U-17 Euros and twice in the U-21 Euros.
But the connection doesn’t stop there. Between 2009 and 2010, De Gea and Asenjo were also teammates at Atletico Madrid. In July 2009, a 20-year-old Asenjo — then an established goalkeeper with Real Valladolid — joined Atleti for a fee of €5 million. A few months later, in September 2009, an 18-year-old De Gea was promoted from Atleti’s B team after Asenjo was called up to Spain’s U-20 World Cup squad.
The two goalkeepers were teammates for just the 2009-10 season. Although Asenjo was initially the club’s no. 1 goalkeeper, costly mistakes and a ruptured ACL opened the door for the teenage De Gea to take over as the starter. Atleti finished the season as Europa League champions and added the UEFA Super Cup soon after. De Gea started both finals.
With his position uncertain, Asenjo joined Malaga on a loan deal for the 2010–11 season, where he, unfortunately, suffered another season-ending ACL injury. He would return to Atleti at the end of his loan spell and spend two more seasons with the club before joining Villarreal on a loan deal-turned-permanent in 2013.
As for De Gea, he made 49 appearances in the 2010-11 season. That was his last season with Atletico Madrid before he joined Manchester United in June 2011, where he’s been ever since.
Samir Handanović / Angelo Peruzzi; Lazio
It’s hard to imagine Angelo Peruzzi and Samir Handanović ever playing on the same team. While both players are Serie A goalkeeping greats, multiple years separate their peaks. Peruzzi dominated the 1990s, where he won two Serie A Goalkeeper the Year awards and 10 trophies with Juventus, while Handanović made his name in the 2010s through three Serie A Team of the Year inclusions and three Goalkeeper of the Year wins.
But as difficult as it may be to believe, for a brief moment in the 2005-06 season, their paths crossed in Rome.
That season, a 36-year-old Peruzzi was wrapping up what would be his second-last professional season. Then of Lazio, who he had joined in 2000, Peruzzi appeared in 30 matches as Lazio accumulated 62 points (30 points were later deducted due to the Calciopoli scandal). It was his last season of 30 or more appearances.
But while Peruzzi was getting ready to retire, another Lazio goalkeeper was only just embarking on his Serie A career. Handanović, then owned by Udinese, had been loaned to Lazio for the second half of the 2005-06 season. Handanović was only there to grow — the 21-year-old was mainly used as a reserve option behind Peruzzi — but he did make his lone Lazio appearance on the final day of the season, keeping a clean sheet in a 1-0 win over Parma.
As Peruzzi’s flame burned out, Handanović’s spark caught fire. After another loan spell with Serie B side Rimini, the Slovenian assumed Udinese’s starting duties for five straight seasons between 2007 and 2012. He then joined Inter Milan, one of Peruzzi’s former clubs, in July 2012, going on to establish himself as Italy’s top foreign goalkeeper.
Despite their brief stint as teammates, Peruzzi’s guidance clearly left an impact on Handanović. In 2014, the Slovenian named Peruzzi as an example he tried to follow.
Edwin van der Sar / Gianluigi Buffon; Juventus
Speaking of goalkeeping icons crossing paths in Italy, Juventus once had Dutch legend Edwin van der Sar and Italian icon Gianluigi Buffon registered in their system, albeit for an extremely brief moment in 2001.
After six seasons with Parma — including five as their number one goalkeeper — Buffon, then just 24, decided that the summer of 2001 was the perfect time to look for a new opportunity elsewhere. And while both AS Roma and Spanish club FC Barcelona were interested in his services, Buffon decided to join Juventus on the advice of his father.
The young Italian goalkeeper, then a one-time UEFA Cup champion and two-time Serie A Goalkeeper of the Year recipient, was officially unveiled as a Juventus player on July 3, 2001. The move cost Juventus about €52 million. At the time, it was the most a club had ever paid for a goalkeeper.
But this was not welcome news for Van Der Sar. The Dutchman had spent the past two seasons with Juventus following his move from Ajax in 1999. Frustrated by the prospect of playing second fiddle, Van Der Sar demanded he be transferred to another club.
On August 1, 2001, Van Der Sar got his wish; he joined English side Fulham in a move worth £7.0 million, effectively ending the Buffon-VDS era after less than a month together.
Van Der Sar would go on to find greener patches in England, most notably with Manchester United, with whom he won five Premier League titles and the 2008 Champions League. On the other hand, Buffon, excluding a brief stint with Paris Saint-Germain in 2018-19, remained with Juventus until this very day. He’s accumulated over 660 appearances and 19 trophies with the club since the move.
Kasper Schmeichel / Joe Hart; Manchester City
Then both just 20 years old, Kasper Schmeichel and Joe Hart’s paths crossed with Manchester City in the late 2000s. Both goalkeepers were returning from loan spells ahead of the 2007-08 season: Schmeichel was coming back from a loan spell with Scottish Premier League side Falkirk, while Hart was coming back from a double loan with League One clubs Tranmere Rovers and Blackpool.
Schmeichel was initially given the starting role. He made his City debut in a 2-0 win over West Ham United, and he followed it up with clean sheets against Derby County and Manchester United. He started City’s first seven league games, saving a Robin van Persie penalty along the way.
Unfortunately, that was the only action Schmeichel would see for City that season. Shortly after signing a four-year extension, Schmeichel embarked on two more loan spells, first to Cardiff City and then to Coventry City, keeping him away from Manchester until the season’s conclusion.
This opened the door for Hart to assume starting duties. The young Englishman supplanted Swedish international Andreas Isaksson in the teamsheet and finished the season with 32 appearances to his name, including 26 Premier League appearance. His coach, Sven-Göran Eriksson, even called him “one of the biggest talents in this country as a goalkeeper.”
This did not sit well for Schmeichel. He expressed regret over his extension, and although he appeared in three matches in the subsequent 2008-09 season — including one in relief of an injured Hart — Schmeichel demanded he be sold. By the start of the 2009-10 season, Schmeichel found himself with a new permanent club, Notts County, in English football’s fourth division.
Today, Schmeichel, now of Leicester City, is one of the top goalkeepers in the Premier League, while Hart, a two-time Premier League champion, represents Burnley.
Nelson Dida / Alisson Becker; SC Internacional
Nelson Dida and Alisson Becker are undoubtedly two of the best Brazilian goalkeepers of the past three decades. And for two seasons in 2014 and 2015, their paths intertwined in their native country.
In a similar story to Angelo Peruzzi and Samir Handanović, when the two became Internacional teammates ahead of the 2014 Brazilian Série A season, the 40-year-old Dida was wrapping up his professional career while the 21-year-old Alisson was getting ready to embark on his.
Dida had made 681 club appearances prior to his December 2013 move to Inter, including 60 appearances the season prior with Grêmio. On the other hand, Alisson had only nine appearances to his name, all of which came in his debut season in 2013.
Interestingly, the 2014 season saw the two goalkeepers split time somewhat equally. Dida played the bulk of the games — he made 41 total appearances in his debut Internacional season, including 27 league appearances — though Alisson did make what was then a career-high 28 total appearances.
But while the appearances somewhat leaned in Dida’s favour in his first season, the tide shifted dramatically in the opposite direction in his next. In 2013, Dida was relegated to a third-string role, behind Alisson and his brother Muriel Becker. Dida made just one club appearance in the entirety of the 2015 season — a 2-0 win over Passo Fundo in the Campeonato Gaúcho — while Alisson made a whopping 57 total appearances, including a career-high 26 appearances in the Brazilian Série A.
With his playing days behind him and no other club calling for his services, Dida retired in 2016 as an accomplished goalkeeper on the Brazilian, Italian and international stage. That same year, Alisson secured a move to Italian Serie A club AS Roma. He’s now Liverpool’s starting goalkeeper and one of the world’s top shot-stoppers.
And here are some goalkeepers who just missed out on being teammates…
Cláudio Taffarel & Gianluigi Buffon: Cláudio Taffarel spent four seasons with Parma, but left the club after spending the 1993-94 season on loan to Reggiana. Shortly after leaving, a teenage Gianluigi Buffon was invited to train with Parma’s first team.
Peter Schmeichel & Kasper Schmeichel: Legendary Danish goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel retired in 2003 following a solitary season with Manchester City. The following season, his son, a teenage Kasper Schmeichel, was invited to train with the first team.
Samir Handanović & Fernando Muslera: On May 14, 2006, Samir Handanović made his one and only appearance for Lazio before returning to his parent club Udinese a few months later. Fernando Muslera joined Lazio 15 months after Handanović’s lone appearance.
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