Goalkeeping Gloves and Football on Pitch

How Often Do Goalkeepers Score in Football?

There are some sights in football that are a joy to behold and seeing a goalkeeper score is certainly one of them (unless your favourite team is on the receiving end of course). Although keepers rarely score beautiful goals, just seeing them get their name on the scoresheet by whatever means is novel enough to cause excitement.

Now, we all have heard and seen instances of keepers finding the back of the net but we wanted to find out exactly how often it happens. In addition to some number crunching, we will also look at the ways in which keepers most commonly score and if scoring shot-stoppers are something of a dying breed.

How Often To Keepers Score: The Stats

Goalkeeper Standing in Tunnel

The easiest way to answer this question is to take a look at some specific leagues and find how many goals have been scored by those who usually spend their time between their own posts.

Premier League

From the Premier League’s inception for the 1992/93 season to the completion of the 2020/21 campaign, there had been 11,266 matches. Only six of these matches had witnessed a goal scored by a goalkeeper, so a mere 0.05% of matches. Therefore, based on the Premier League, a keeper finds the back of the net approximately once every 2,000 matches, so you should consider yourself very lucky if you ever see one live.

Serie A

The Premier League is not the only place that is tough for keepers to find the net in either. If you look across at other leagues from across the globe seeing a goalie on the scoresheet is even rarer. In Serie A, for instance, only five keepers have scored in the history of the competition despite it dating back to 1929-30, although two of the keepers did score on multiple occasions (both Antonio Rigamonti and Lucidio Sentimenti scored three top-flight penalties). This means that nine Serie A matches have seen a keeper convert, close to a rate of a goalkeeper scoring in 0.03% of games.


Even though the MLS was established just four years after the Premier League, America’s top-division has only seen two keepers score. The first came in 2008 as stand-in keeper Danny Cepero converted an 81-yard free kick in the 83rd minute to seal the win for the New York Red Bulls. The next came fairly soon afterwards as William Hesmer prodded home following a corner to earn a point against Toronto FC. Although most MLS seasons have seen fewer matches than in the Premier League, their number of goals per game is still considered lower at around 1 in 3,000.

Other Competitions

Obviously, it only takes a couple of freak strikes to change these figures significantly but as a general rule in most leagues, you can expect to see a keeper goal once every five to 15 years. For cup competitions, you may think the fewer number of matches makes them much rarer but the all or nothing nature of many ties balances this out. There have been several keepers that have scored in European competitions from open play including Sinan Bolat, Mattias Asper, Marco Amelia, Yuri Zhevnov and Peter Schmeichel. There are additional names too that scored from the penalty spot in regular time.

Type of Goals

Football Hitting Net Against Blurred Stadium at Night

This last point brings us on to a very interesting question of what type of goals do goalkeepers score. This is where keepers are rather more limited than their outfield counterparts as they never really get the opportunity to dribble through the defence or to curl one in from outside the box. Really, there are only three options a keeper has of getting themselves on the scoresheet if any given match.

Converted Penalty

This definitely feels like the ‘cheapest’ way of seeing a goalkeeper score as it does not take too much to convert a penalty. Even a fairly clumsy keeper that is no good with their feet would have a very decent chance of putting the ball in the net from 12 yards. The practice of allowing keepers to take penalties has rather died out recently although there have been a couple of ‘near misses’ so to speak. In a 13-0 thrashing of VVV-Venlo, Ajax shot-stopper Andre Onana reportedly volunteered to take a penalty with the score at 9-0 but his offer was not taken up.

Following a series of missed penalties from a variety of Manchester City players, there was also some genuine speculation that Ederson might be asked to take one in future. Manager Pep Guardiola even confirmed that “he is an option because I am pretty sure he’s a good taker”. Although the Brazilian is yet to be called upon, do not rule out him taking one in future as it is something the Brazilian is keen on.

Most goalkeepers that have bagged themselves more than one or two professional goals have done so because they have been designated penalty takers. Dimitar Ivankov, the fourth-highest scoring keeper of all time, claimed all of his strikes from 12 yards out because clubs trusted him to convert. Similarly, all of Hans Jörg Butt’s 32 goals came from the penalty spot. In the case of the German, he did miss eight of the 40 penalties he took, giving him a solid but far from spectacular 80% conversion rate.

Long Punt Up Field

There is no composure needed for this one as all it requires is a clearance or long pass to be overhit and the bounce in the right place, possibly aided by an unpredictable gust of wind. This is how Tim Howard, Asmir Begovic and Paul Robinson recorded their Premier League goals. In the case of the first two, the pair simply went to clear the ball as they faced some pressure from an on-rushing forward. For the long-kicking Paul Robinson, he struck a dead ball as Tottenham had been issued a free-kick deep inside their own half.

Converting a Corner or Free-Kick

When a match reaches second half-injury time and there is a team in desperate need of a goal, this often provides keepers with a rare opportunity to venture into the opponent’s box. All that needs to happen is for a teammate to win a corner or a free-kick down either channel, ideally quite close to goal. One teammate will be left behind to pump the ball back into the box should it be cleared, but this will be a small player with limited goalscoring ability rather than the keeper.

Although no goalies have any real knack for finishing, what they typically can offer is some additional height. Why send a 5’8” fullback into the box and leave the keeper waiting on the halfway line when you could send in a towering 6’4” goalkeeper. When in the box, some keepers end up jumping highest and heading home while others end up simply being in the right place at the right time.

Direct Free-Kicks: Gone but not forgotten

These days you are incredibly unlikely to see a keeper score a direct free-kick (excluding long punts that bounce over their opposite number’s head). The was a recent case of Issah Razak curling in from 20 yards in a Ghanaian Premier League match but such instances are exceptional rare in the modern era. Professional football has not always been like this though as there are some now retired keepers that were dead-ball specialists. Rogerio Ceni is the best example as the Brazilian scored an incredible 131 goals despite being the man with the gloves. Included in this were 61 successful free-kicks, which makes him one of the greatest free-kick takers of all time.

Jose Luis Chilavert was also a master of the dead ball and he became the first keeper to try a direct free-kick at the World Cup. This effort was unsuccessful mind you because the globe’s biggest tournament has yet to see a keeper score. South America was basically something of a hotspot for these penalty and free-kick taking keepers with both Columbia’s Rene Higuita and Peru’s Johnny Vegas both managing over 40 goals each through a combination of dead-ball efforts.

Highest Scoring Goalkeepers

Goalkeeper Goals Final Year
Rogerio Ceni 131 2015
Jose Luis Chilavert 67 2004
Johnny Vegas Fernandez 45 2017
Dimitar Ivankov 42 2011
Rene Higuita 41 2009
Marcio 34 2019
Hans-Jorg Butt 32* 2012
Misael Alfaro 31 2010

*Hans-Jorg Butt had 5 additional goals which came while playing in the fourth-tier of German football for VfB Oldenburg so not at a professional level

At the time of writing, 38 goalkeepers had recorded at least 10 goals. Of these, only five are currently active with Argentina’s Christian Lucchetti topping the list of non-retired keepers. At 43 years old though, the retirement of the man with 25 goals to his name does seem rather imminent.

As stated previously, the overwhelming majority of keepers that feature on the all-time scorers’ list owe their large tally to penalties. For those that rely on simply coming up for late set-pieces, grabbing more than a goal during the course of their career is a very challenging task. In fact, most keepers go without one but there are those (such as Peter Schmeichel) who have proved to be a genuine fox in the box. The 6’3”, broad-shouldered Dane scored a variety of goals from corners including a towering header, a volley and redirecting a flick-on.

What About Penalty Shootouts?

3D Miniature Football Pitch with Penalty Area Highlighted

Goals scored in a penalty shootout, regardless of the competition, are never credited as a proper ‘goal’ so you will not see these in the official stats. They do however provide some keepers with a rare opportunity to stick the ball into the back of the net. For this to happen though shootouts often need to head into sudden death and goalies are seldom selected as one of the opening five takers. Due to this, we are still waiting to see one keeper take on another in a World Cup penalty shootout.

The situation for the European Championships is a little different because in 2004 we did see Portugal’s Ricardo step up and take the winning penalty during sudden-death. For a more recent high-profile example, look at the nail-biting shootout of the 2020/21 Europa League final. With all out-field players having converted their efforts, both keepers were forced to give it a try themselves, almost as a form of punishment. Villarreal’s Geronimo Rulli rather expertly picked out the top corner but David De Gea saw his rather unconvincing effort saved.