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Neuer, Kahn or Maier: who is Bayern's top No1?

Manuel Neuer has signed a new deal at Bayern München, but is the sweeper-keeper up to the standards of Sepp Maier and Oliver Kahn. UEFA.com gives evidence.

Manuel Neuer has signed a new long-term contract at Bayern
Manuel Neuer has signed a new long-term contract at Bayern ©Getty Images

Manuel Neuer is to stay at Bayern München until 30 June 2021 after signing a new contract with the Bundesliga leaders, saying: "We're chasing titles in every competition and have a big chance of winning a lot this season. I'm looking forward to the future with FC Bayern."

The 30-year-old has forged a mighty reputation with the Bavarian outfit, but he faces quite a battle to make it into an all-time Bayern XI, with the club having been home to two other phenomenal No1s. UEFA.com sizes up the competition.

Sepp Maier in 1974
Sepp Maier in 1974©Getty Images

Sepp Maier (1962–80)
European Cups: 3 (1973/74, 1974/75, 1975/76)
European Cup Winners' Cup: 1 (1966/67)
Bundesliga titles: 4
German Cups: 4
National team honours: 1972 UEFA European Championship, 1974 FIFA World Cup

Evidence: Unlike Oliver Kahn and Neuer, Die Katze von Anzing (the Cat from Anzing) spent his entire playing career with Bayern, and his saves were perhaps the most stunning to look at. It is unlikely Bayern would be such a huge club without having had such a reliable keeper in the 1970s. And reliable he was: Maier played in 442 successive Bundesliga fixtures – a record that will quite possibly stand for eternity.

Expert testimony: "Without Sepp we would never have won the World Cup. Maier performed marvellously in the final – he saved at least half a dozen unsavable shots."
Bayern and West Germany team-mate Franz Beckenbauer

He says: "Goalkeepers are introverts, even though it may not always seem that way. Outfield players can make things happen. As a keeper, you are tied to the box – you can only react."

Oliver Kahn in 2001
Oliver Kahn in 2001©Bongarts

Oliver Kahn (1994–2008)
European Cups: 1 (2000/01)
UEFA Cup: 1 (1995/96)
Bundesliga titles: 8
German Cups: 6
National team honours: EURO '96

Evidence: Twenty-five when he joined Bayern from home-town club Karlsruhe, Kahn was nicknamed Der Titan (the Titan) and Vol-Kahn-o (a pun on 'volcano') during his 14-year Bayern career. As valuable for Bayern in the dressing room as he was on the pitch, Kahn was fiercely committed; Mehmet Scholl once said the only things he feared are "war and Oliver Kahn". Kahn had spectacular reflexes and was never afraid to dive head first into the danger zone.

Expert testimony: "There has never been anyone with as professional an attitude as Oliver Kahn. His whole life is arranged to reap perfection. He always wanted to become the perfect goalkeeper."
Sepp Maier

He says: "Football can be fascinating and extremely cruel. I have seen both sides of that. As a goalkeeper, you need willpower; you need to anticipate problems and of course you need luck."

Manuel Neuer in 2013
Manuel Neuer in 2013©Getty Images

Manuel Neuer (2011–present)
European Cups: 1 (2012/13)
Bundesliga titles: 3
German Cups: 2
National team honours: 2014 FIFA World Cup

Evidence: Signed from Schalke in July 2011, Neuer did not immediately endear himself to Bayern fans, but won them over and could become the club's captain if Philipp Lahm – as expected – retires in 2018. Hungary's 1950s No1 Gyula Grosics may have had similar ball skills, but it was the Gelsenkirchen giant who prompted the coining of a new term – sweeper-keeper – to describe his style.

Expert opinion: "Manuel starts the build-up to attacks and he marshals the defence. He is like an 11th outfield player for us and he's changing world football."
Joachim Löw, Germany coach

He says: "As a goalkeeper, you are a like a lone ranger. Supporters tend to look at who scores goals and what tricks are being executed in attack. It's rarely about what qualities a goalkeeper has."