The No. 1 Shirt

Some of the best goalkeepers in history have spent part of their careers in Spanish football and this season’s current crop of No.1s are looking to emulate their success.

In the first part of this series discussing the LaLiga legends behind the most iconic shirt numbers in the game, we discuss the goalkeepers who have made the No.1 their own. Here comes a look at the 20 players who’ll be wearing No.1 in the 2020/21 LaLiga Santander season and at ten legends who wore those jerseys before them.

The players wearing No.1 in the 2020/21 LaLiga Santander season

Fernando Pacheco (D. Alavés), Unai Simón (Athletic Club), Ivo Grbic (Atlético de Madrid), Marc-André ter Stegen (FC Barcelona), Jeremías Ledesma (Cádiz CF), Iván Villar (RC Celta), Marko Dmitrovic (SD Eibar), Diego Rodríguez (Elche CF), Rubén Yáñez (Getafe CF), Rui Silva (Granada CF), Álvaro Fernández (SD Huesca), Koke Vegas (Levante UD), Sergio Herrera (CA Osasuna), Joel Robles (Real Betis), Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid), Álex Remiro (Real Sociedad), Jordi Masip (Real Valladolid), Tomas Vaclík (Sevilla FC), Jaume Doménech (Valencia CF), Sergio Asenjo (Villarreal CF.)

LaLiga Santander boasts talented players in every position, but the Spanish top division is particularly well-stocked at goalkeeper as some of the very best in the game are plying their trade in Spain.

That includes Thibaut Courtois, who is wearing the No.1 on his back for the first time in his club career this season. Before now, the Belgian had always worn the No.13, but he has well and truly earned the iconic jersey through his performances as he helped Real Madrid win the title in 2019/20 and as he has continued to dazzle in the first few weeks of the new campaign.

At Barcelona, the No.1 is also worn by another of the best in the game in the form of Marc-André ter Stegen. The German has not only displayed fine parrying skills during his six years in LaLiga Santander, but he has also taken the game to new levels with his passing out from the back. In 2019/20, ter Stegen even recorded two LaLiga Santander assists by setting up a Luis Suárez goal against Getafe and an Antoine Griezmann strike against Mallorca.

It’s not only the biggest clubs of LaLiga Santander that boast superb talent in their No.1. Sergio Asenjo at Villarreal and Rui Silva at Granada each hit the 100 saves mark in the 2019/20 LaLiga Santander campaign, while Unai Simón has been playing so well for Athletic Club that he has been called up to Luis Enrique’s last two Spain squads.

Ten LaLiga legends who wore the No.1

Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), Santiago Cañizares (Celta Vigo, Real Madrid, Valencia), Víctor Valdés (Barcelona), José Ángel Iribar (Athletic Club), Paco Buyo (Sevilla, Real Madrid), Andoni Zubizarreta (Athletic Club, Barcelona, Valencia), Miguel Reina (Córdoba, Barcelona, Atlético Madrid), Monchi (Sevilla), Luis Arconada (Real Sociedad), Thomas N’Kono (Espanyol)

Most of the best goalkeepers in LaLiga history wore the No.1 on their backs at some point during their careers. Some others opted for an alternative like No.13 and Ricardo Zamora, perhaps the greatest LaLiga goalkeeper of all time and the man whose name is used for the end-of-season Zamora Trophy, finished his career before shirt numbers were introduced in LaLiga in 1947, but the majority of Spanish football’s other great shot-stoppers have worn this number with pride.

Real Madrid’s No.1 shirt is one of the most prestigious in the game and it has been owned by legends such as Paco Buyo and Iker Casillas. These two Spanish shot-stoppers played over 1,000 top flight matches between them, with Buyo fifth on the all-time LaLiga Santander appearances list with 542 and Casillas seventh with 510.

Leading the way on that appearances list is Andoni Zubizarreta, who played a total of 622 top flight matches during his career with Athletic Club, Barcelona and Valencia. He is remembered fondly at each of his clubs, especially at Athletic Club where he was the man between the sticks for their back-to-back championships in the 1980s and at Barcelona where he was the goalkeeper for Johan Cruyff’s Dream Team as Barça finally won their first European Cup in 1992.

As mentioned above, the Zamora Trophy is the prize given to the goalkeeper with the best goals conceded record at the end of each season and several of the 10 legends listed here have won that prize multiple times in their career. Victor Valdés claimed it five times while at Barcelona, for example, while Santiago Cañizares earned it four times for his performances with Celta Vigo and Valencia.  Other high-profile icons to have worn the No.1 during their time in LaLiga include Miguel Reina, the father of Pepe Reina and an outstanding goalkeeper in his own right, Thomas N’Kono, who has been nominated as one of the 10 best goalkeepers of all time by France Football, and Monchi, who spent his entire playing career at Sevilla before becoming even more of a club legend as a sporting director.

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