Football News

Manuel Neuer: Bayern Munich goalkeeper ‘on par’ with Lionel Messi among all-time greats

By CJ Smith

Published: 18:15, 19 April 2024

German striker Mario Gomez believes former teammate Manuel Neuer should be viewed on the same level as Lionel Messi after ‘revolutionising’ the goalkeeper position. 

Neuer has long been counted as one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time and among the current generation, it’s hard to think of any who have mastered the position more. But more than just shot-stopping, Neuer has changed the way the No.1 position is played thanks to his passing range and composure with the ball, while his speed off the line has helped facilitate extremely high defensive lines for Bayern Munich and Germany; a tactic that has proliferated throughout the game.

And then there are his quantifiable achievements in the game, with Neuer now playing 834 senior games at club and international level for Germany, Bayern Munich and FC Schalke combined, lifting the 2014 World Cup, two Champions League titles, 11 Bundesliga crowns and numerous domestic cups.

Goalkeepers are rarely held up in such high esteem, but Gomez — who played alongside Neuer for Bayern between 2011 and 2013, as well as with the German national team — even believes Neuer should be viewed ‘on par’ with Lionel Messi, who is considered by most as the greatest ever to play the game.

“I would put Manuel Neuer on par with Messi in terms of importance for the game,” Gomez told Bild‘s ‘Phrasenmäher’ podcast. “I don’t even know if we are all aware of what we experienced with a goalkeeper who revolutionized the entire game. Only in 20 years will we realize this. He is the goalkeeper who made everyone realize that feet are as important as hands. The way he masters both is incredible.”

Of course, Gomez isn’t the only German to lavish such praise upon Neuer. Former Die Mannschaft goalkeeper coach Andreas Köpke went as far as saying he’d “never seen a better sweeper [than Neuer], apart from maybe Beckenbauer” during his time working with him.

Another former teammate, Bastian Schweinsteiger, once said: “First of all he’s a good goalkeeper, and then he’s a great footballer. He’s so fast, he was faster than me. With him at the back, you could just play higher up the field – you knew there was a man behind you who could play as a sweeper or the last man. Plus he dribbles sometimes against strikers and it’s incredible.”

Even at 38, Neuer is not done yet having just made three saves in Bayern’s 1-0 over Arsenal in the Champions League quarter-final second leg. That was the veteran’s 138th shutout in the competition, taking him past Real Madrid legend Iker Casillas atop the all-time list.