After winning the Champions League at the end of the 2021/22 season, Real Madrid and Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois was deservedly awarded the Yashin Trophy earlier this month — a kind of Ballon d’Or for keepers. Speaking to the media, he credited Bayern Munich and Germany captain Manuel Neuer for changing the expectations surrounding a goalkeeper in this day and age, transforming the position from someone who just stops shots to an all-round contributor to the game.
His words, as captured by the official UCL account, are as follows:
️ Courtois: "It was with Neuer that there was the biggest change. What he did at the 2014 World Cup had a huge impact on what came next. The goalkeeper was no longer just the guy who had to stop the ball."#UCL— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) October 24, 2022
World Cup 2014 was arguably Neuer’s magnum opus, where he showcased a marvel of “sweeper keeping” to the world at large. Back then, the style was nowhere near as popular as it is today. While most coaches nowadays expect the keeper to at least be able to help with the team’s buildup play and come off the line to sweep up attacks, this was quite a new thing that Neuer helped popularize back then.
Therefore, you could say that today’s big name goalkeepers like Manchester City’s Ederson, Liverpool FC’s Alisson, and even Courtois himself are following in Neuer’s footsteps. Modern possession-football oriented coaches refuse to even work with a keeper that cannot use his feet. That’s Neuer’s legacy. This one man’s impact on the game has truly been incredible.