1. Moacir Barbosa
(Uruguay vs Brazil, 1950 World Cup final)
The old adage that a goalkeeper shouldn’t be beaten at his near post is something of a misnomer, but that didn’t stop Moacir Barbosa from getting the blame for the most traumatic single goal in Brazilian football history. Barbosa, who opted to play without gloves, charged out as he expected a cross from Uruguay’s Alcide Ghiggia only for the winger to spot the gap and stroke home in the closing stages of the 1950 World Cup’s final game, winning the tournament for Uruguay. Barbosa was blamed for years, treated as a bad-luck charm, and went to his grave in 2000 aggrieved.
2. Loris Karius
(Real Madrid vs Liverpool, 2018 Champions League)
Rarely does an individual player in a team sport have such a disastrous night as Karius’ at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev on May 26. His first was a complete mind-blank. Karius bowled the ball out directly into the path of Karim Benzema who prodded home for Madrid’s opener four minutes into the second half. His team-mates left in shock and disbelief. But his second mistake for Madrid’s third goal was arguably even worse. The German neglecting to catch Gareth Bale’s tame effort and instead parrying into his own net.
3. Rene Higuita
(Cameroon vs Colombia, 1990 World Cup)
If you drive everywhere at 100 mph, eventually you’re going to have an accident. Higuita would probably think himself a maverick, but in reality he was a goalkeeper who took pointless risks, and sooner or later one would prove extremely costly. Dithering near the halfway line in extra time of Colombia’s World Cup second-round game against Cameroon, Higuita attempted a dragback but was dispossessed by Roger Milla, who ran through to score.
4. David Seaman
(Arsenal vs Real Zaragoza, 1995 Cup Winners’ Cup final)
You could view Seaman being lobbed once from miles out as a misfortune. But twice starts to look like carelessness. Twice in huge games Seaman was caught out by speculative punts. Nayim’s last-minute effort from the halfway line was intentional and won Zaragoza the game 2-1. Seaman went on to have a wonderful career, but the lob came back to haunt him when Ronaldinho’s skewed cross for Brazil in the 2002 World Cup quarter-finals saw England knocked out.
5. Oliver Kahn
(Germany vs Brazil, 2002 World Cup)
The cruelness of goalkeeping was laid bare by Kahn in the 2002 World Cup final. The German No.1 had not just been the best goalkeeper, but one of the tournament’s better players, helping carry his country to a surprise appearance in the final. But once there, his error went a good way to costing them victory, spilling a shot from Rivaldo which Ronaldo swooped in to snaffle, opening the scoring for what would eventually be a 2-0 win.
6. Arnold Origi
(Kenya vs Eritrea, 2008 Afcon qualifier)
Eritrea’s home and away win over Harambee Stars during the qualifying phase of the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) was not without incident.
On paper, Stars looked the mightier but on the pitch Eritrea stepped up their game, winning 1-0 in Asmara before a 2-1 triumph in Nairobi sealed Kenya’s fate. It was in the Nairobi tie that Stars custodian Origi became the subject of anger and ridicule. A back pass from the defence just needed his clearance but in his attempt to kick the ball, he missed and helplessly watched it slip into the net.
7. Petr Cech
(Czech Republic vs Turkey, Euro 2008)
You could make the argument that Cech, previously a towering colossus of goalkeeping, was never quite the same after this mistake in a madcap Euro 2008 group game against Turkey. The Czechs were 2-1 up over Turkey when Cech inexplicably dropped a cross at the feet of Nihat Kahveci, who gladly accepted the easy goal before going on to score a much more difficult one, winning the game 3-2.
8. Luis Arconada
(Spain vs France, Euro 84 final)
The 1984 European Championships had been a broiling tournament, France reaching the final after an extraordinary semi-final against Portugal, but they were handed a big advantage in the final against Spain. Luis Arconada, nicknamed “the octopus” and winner of three Zamora trophies in Spain, seemed to have gathered Michel Platini’s weak free kick from the edge of the penalty area easily, only for it to wriggle from his grasp and into the net.
9. Robert Green
(England vs USA, 2010 World Cup)
Green probably shouldn’t have even been in the England team for their 2010 World Cup opener. Joe Hart, a man with a few high-profile gaffes in his future, was the new, young, in-form keeper, but Fabio Capello opted for Green, and the decision backfired just before half-time against the USA. Clint Dempsey lined up a speculative shot, Green dropped to gather it easily, but the ball, like a bar of soap, slipped through his hands and agonisingly trickled over the line.
10. David James
(Wolfsburg vs Portsmouth, 2009 UEFA Cup)
Significant because it was Portsmouth’s one and only foray into European football. David James’ awful mistake against Wolfsburg ended Pompey’s UEFA Cup hopes in calamitous fashion. Portsmouth were enjoying a memorable campaign, including a 2-2 draw with AC Milan at Fratton Park, but needed a win to give themselves any chance of qualifying for the knockout stages. With 16 minutes remaining and the match finely poised at 2-2, Sylvain Distin played a textbook pass back towards his goalkeeper. James waited for the ball to come but then played a casual side-footed pass directly into the path of Zvjezdan Misimovic who could scarcely believe his luck and tapped home for what proved to be the winning goal.