Relics of the Past: Shortest Short Goalkeepers Ever

Josip Brajkovic
Josip Brajkovic
Published: 12. siječnja 2024.

Legendary goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon looked at all the changes enforced on football and suggested the most drastic one - increase the goal size. His reasoning is simple, when he started his long career, he was amongst the top five tallest players in the league. Now he's lucky to be in top five tallest on the pitch. No, he hasn't shrunk that much, it's just that people grew taller through generations. Goalkeepers are leading that change on the pitch, however. So this list of short goalkeepers is truly already a relic of the past.

Looking at the top goalkeepers nowadays, they all have NBA player heights. Thibault Curtois is 200 cms tall (6 ft 7 in), Gianluigi Donnarumma is 199 cms tall (6 ft 6 in), and the veteran Manuel Neuer is 193 cms tall (6 ft 4 in).

When we think about short keepers, usually we think about Fabian Barthez, yet he was standing at 180 cms (5 ft 11 in). Iker Casillas is another in the category at 182 cms (6 ft). Yet the meter stopped far sooner for the man on this ranked list of 10 of the shortest goalkeepers to ever play football.

#10 Yazid Yasin (Singapore) - 169 cms (5 ft 7 in)

Yazid Yasin in 2013.jpg
By Six.stomachs - Own work by the original uploader, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Probably the only list we'll ever do in which a Singaporean player will make the cut. Yet Yazid Yasin has truly made quite the career in his home country. Or home city. He has recorded 450 appearances in the S. league and has multiple titles. But the now 44-year-old has also won individual prizes like that for The Best Young Player of the Year in Singapore, back in 1999.

#9 Juan Luque de Serrallonga (Spain) - 169 cms (5 ft 7 in)

As is the case in Spanish-speaking countries (which will be featured here heavily), Juan Luque's stature was reflected in his nickname - Juanito. The 1882-born player from Girona, Spain, played in the Spanish league for Cadiz and Sevilla. Juanito made a bigger name for himself in Mexico, becoming their national team manager after his playing career. He died in Mexico City in 1967.

#8 Jesus Bermudez (Bolivia) - 169 cms (5 ft 7 in)

Jesús Bermúdez.png
By Unknown author - Arturo Carbonell Debali, Primer Campeonato Mundial de Football, Montevideo, Impresora Uruguaya, 1931, p. 55., Public Domain, Link

As you're reading, you're realizing that most of these short goalkeepers have just played so far ago that their height wasn't THAT much of an issue. Jesus Bermudez was a part of the Bolivian national team that played at the 1930 World Cup in Uruguay. Considering that the average height for a male Bolivian in 2024 is 162 cm (5 ft 4 in), Bermudez was quite tall back then. Bermudez died aged 42, in 1945.

#7 Hong Deok-young (South Korea) - 169 cms (5 ft 7 in)

Hong Duk Yung ??? (South Korea, 1954 World Cup).jpg
By Unknown author -, Public Domain, Link

Another short goalkeeper who made it to the World Cup. Hong Deok-young played at the 1954 World Cup in Switzerland. The goalkeeper also played for the national team at teh 1948 Summer Olympics. Hong Deok-young was one of the first football players to be capped for South Korea actually! Getting 17 total. After his keeping days, he was a manager and a referee. In 2005, the year of his passing, he was introduced into the Korean FA Hall of Fame.

#6 Francesco Quintini (Italy) - 168 cms (5 ft 6 in)

Francesco Quintini - Banco di Roma.jpg
Di sconosciuto - Calcio semiprofessionistico e categorie minori vol. 2 , su, La nostra Serie A negli anni 70, 23 maggio 2020., Pubblico dominio, Collegamento

A former Serie A player, Francesco Quintini started his career at Roma, which he represented at a youth rank as well. Over six seasons in his professional years, he played in nine games for the famed club of the capital. Between 1971 and 1977. Later, he played in smaller clubs but kept in football as a goalkeeping coach for the youth players, starting with Roma and staying there until 1994.

#5 Angelo Martino Colombo (Italy) - 168 cms (5 ft 6 in)

Angelo Martino Colombo - US Cagliari.jpg
By sconosciuto - Error: title= and url= must be specified., Public Domain, Link

Not allowing his height to hold him back, Angelo Martino Colombo managed possibly the biggest feat out of all these short goalkeepers - he won the Serie A title! In the 1966/1967 season, Colombo was a backup goalie for a little club known as Juventus. Colombo made a name for himself in Italy representing Cagliari 165 times, playing for Messina and the then formidable Pro Vercelli. After his Juve stint in which he recorded five appearances, he played for Bologna. The Italian from Gattinara died in 2014, aged 78.

#4 Julien Darui (France) - 168 cms (5 ft 6 in)

Julien Darui (1947).png
By J.D. Noske / Anefo - Nationaal Archief Fotocollectie Anefo, CC BY-SA 3.0 nl, Link

Born in 1916, Julien Darui defied the chances given to short goalkeepers even for his playing time. As proven by the fact that in 1999, the famed magazine L'Equipe selected him as the best French goalkeeper of the century! Darui was born in Luxembourg to an Italian-Portuguese couple but emigrated to France at a young age. He represented his country 25 times! Darui played in France for his club career as well, winning the French title in 1947 with CO Roubaix-Tourcoing, and the Cup with Red Star Olympique during World War II. He represented Olympique Lillois, OFC Charleville, but also today's notable clubs like Lille and Montpellier. Playing the most, over 230 games, for CO Roubaix-Tourcoing.

#3 Jorge Campos (Mexico) - 168 cms (5 ft 6.5 in)

Jorge Campos en 2018.jpg
Autor, CC BY 4.0, Poveznica

Now, certainly the most well-known of all the short goalkeepers ever. Mexico's multi-weapon Jorge Campos is a goalkeeping legend, regardless of how much he measures up next to the meter. Mostly because Campos is one of the best goalscoring goalkeepers, scoring 46 in his career! More than most midfielders. Campos represented his country 129 times, playing at the 1994 and 1998 World Cups, while also being a part of the squad for the 2002 one too! Campos had a notable playing career, representing Club Universidad Pumas, Cruz Azul, Chigaco Fire, LA Galaxy, Tigres, and others.

#2 Tarmizi Johari (Brunei) - 166 cms (5 ft 5 in)

Tied as the shortest goalkeeper to ever play in an international match, Tarmizi Johari still succumbs to the number one spot because he doesn't have as great of a resume as his peer. Johari played two games for the Asian nation of Brunei, playing for the local clubs. Born in 1983, he is now 40 and still deserves credit as he is one of the few short GKs that has survived well into the 21st century.

#1 Pedro Benitez (Paraguay) - 166 (5 ft 5 in)

Coming from a country whose best player ever is a goalkeeper, Pedro Benitez also brought Paraguay the honour of being the most successful of the shortest goalkeepers. Another player who was at the 1930 World Cup in Uruguay, Benitez is no longer with us, as he died in 1974 at the age of 73. His career ended in the 1930s, as he played professionally in Argentina.


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