Earlier in the month I presented data which indicated that World Cup squads for six European countries are getting taller on average. Previously, I have considered the height of central defenders in this year’s World Cup.
Below is the data for the average height of goalkeepers in World Cup squads for six countries from 1978 to 2014. As is the case with all World Cup footballers in general, the goalkeepers selected for qualifying squads are getting taller on average.
Each country took 3 goalkeepers to every World Cup since 1978 (with the exception of one Italian squad that only took 2). Interestingly, England has selected progressively taller goalkeepers from 1978 onwards.
The first squad to break 190cm barrier for average goalkeeper height at a World Cup was the Netherlands in U.S.A 94’ when the cohort of Ed de Goeij (198cm), Edwin van der Sar (197cm) and Theo Snelders (193cm) travelled to America. The Italians later broke the 190cm barrier in France 98’ selecting Francesco Toldo (196cm), GianlucaPagliuca (190cm) and Gianluigi Buffon (191cm).
The Netherlands 1998 squad had the highest on average goalkeeper height and share the top spot with England’s current crop of Joe Hart (196cm), Ben Foster (193cm) and Fraser Forster (201cm).
Fraser Forster (201cm) is the only goalkeeper in the sample to break the 200cm bound (despite the fact that he never recordered a minute on the field in Brazil) and was the tallest player at Brazil 2014.The second tallest goalkeeper over the years under analysis here was Ed de Goeij (198cm).
To my knowledge Forster was the joint second tallest player to ever travel to a World Cup, alongside his compatriot Peter Crouch (201cm). To my knowledge the tallest players ever to travel were both 202cm; Nikola Žigić for Serbia and Jan Koller for Czech Republic.
Goalkeepers have always needed to be tall but it appears to make it to an elite international level touching off 6 foot may not be good enough anymore, with the average height of elite international's advancing toward 6’3.