Clean sheets win titles, as the old saying goes.
You're unlikely to win football's major honours without a world-class operator between the sticks and Iker Casillas proved his worth to Real Madrid time and again since making his debut for the club as a teenager in 1999.
Saint Iker's place in the Real Madrid history books is about as secure as they come - in May 2000, he became the youngest ever goalkeeper to play in and win a Champions League final. He was just four days beyond his 19th birthday.
With Gianluigi Buffon calling time on his Juventus career at the end of this campaign, it's unlikely that the great Italian will add to his tally of 52 clean sheets and inch closer to Casillas' mark of 59. If Buffon's last shutout at the highest level came at the Nou Camp against Lionel Messi and Barcelona, wouldn't that be fitting?
The only other active players in the top ten are Atlético Madrid's outstanding Slovenian, Jan Oblak, who is some way back with 29 clean shutouts, and legendary Bayern man Manuel Neuer on 47. Realistically speaking, Neuer is the only threat to Casillas' all-time record.
Mention must also be made of Edwin van der Sar's outstanding ratio of 0.52 clean sheets per Champions League match throughout his career, the highest proportion of clean sheets to games out of anybody in this list, by some margin.
🧼 All-time Champions League clean sheets
- 🇪🇸 Iker Casillas - 59
- 🇮🇹 Gigi Buffon - 52
- 🇳🇱 Edwin van der Sar - 51
- 🇨🇿 Petr Čech - 49
- 🇩🇪 Manuel Neuer - 47
- 🇪🇸 Victor Valdés - 46
- 🇧🇷 Dida - 35
- 🇩🇪 Oliver Kahn - 34
- 🇸🇮 Jan Oblak - 29
- 🇵🇹 Vitor Baía - 28
We may as well sign off with a few of Casillas' best saves in a Real Madrid jersey, there were many of them, so check out this Twitter thread!
🧤 Thread: memorable Iker Casillas saves for Real Madrid...— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) January 22, 2021
1⃣ @IkerCasillas produced an incredible individual performance at Anfield back in 2009, including this stop to deny Fernando @Torres 💪#UCL | @realmadriden pic.twitter.com/r2YL5W45RQ
Casillas' old club must win at Granada tonight to keep themselves alive in the LaLiga title race.
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