Newcastle United have only been out of the top-flight for two seasons since the Premier League’s inception back in 1992, quickly rebounding as champions to the big league on both occasions. Over the course of their time in England’s top division, a number of men have stood between the posts for The Toon. We take a look back at every keeper to have played in the Premier League for Newcastle and rank them from worst to best:
12. John Karelse
(Premier League) Appearances: 3
Clean Sheets: 1
John Karelse’s Newcastle career was so brief that little video evidence exists of his time as keeper for the black and whites. The Dutchman was signed for £900K by fellow-countryman Ruud Gullit, but failed to make a good first impression when he replaced the injured Steve Harper for his debut against Southampton. Karelse conceded four in that game and three in the next before being dropped, and he would only appear in one more Premier League game when Sir Bobby Robson took over from Gullit.
11. Jak Alnwick
Clean Sheets: 0
It’s probably fair to say that for Jak Alnwick, his brief spell between the posts for Newcastle came a little too early in his career. Aged just 21 when he was called upon to deputise for the injured Tim Krul, Alnwick found himself out of his depth, conceding 14 goals in his six Premier League appearances. Jak struggled to make his presence felt under high balls and was sent to Preston on a free at the end of the 2015 season, although he did go on to enjoy something of a late-career renaissance for St Mirren in the Scottish Premiership.
10. Mike Hooper
Clean Sheets: 9
Mike Hooper spent the majority of his career at Liverpool, where he acted as back-up to Bruce Grobbelaar and David James. He arrived at Newcastle at the age of 29, but again would go on to be used mainly from the bench behind Pavel Srnicek and Shaka Hislop in the three years he spent with The Magpies from 1993 to ’96. The fact that Hooper was at one stage loaned out to bitter rivals Sunderland underlines the point that he was never likely to make a breakthrough at Newcastle. His fate at the club was sealed when cameras caught him laughing on the subs bench when Newcastle conceded a goal, and he would be released by the club, never to play professional football again.
9. Tommy Wright
Clean Sheets: 0
The stats are somewhat deceiving when it comes to Northern Irish international Tommy Wright. Although he only made three appearances in the Premier League era, he played a total of more than 100 senior matches for Newcastle, claiming the number one spot in the 1988/89 season. Wright performed particularly well for The Toon in the second tier in 1992/93 before eventually losing his place to Pavel Srnicek. Apologies to Newcastle fans (and Tommy) for the choice of video, but there was slim pickings to choose from, and Wright was centrally involved in one of the most controversial moments of this game.
8. Rob Elliot
Clean Sheets: 9
When Rob Elliot signed for Newcastle on a 5-year deal in 2011, he publicly stated his intention to become the club’s number one keeper. His 55 Premier League appearances over nine years with the club is evidence that he never quite managed to achieve that particular ambition. Tim Krul, Karl Darlow and later Martin Dubrovka were all above him in the pecking order, and despite the fact that Elliot had undoubted talent and was even capped 4 times by the Republic of Ireland, he remained a substitute for the majority of his time with Newcastle.
7. Karl Darlow
Clean Sheets: 9
Northampton-born Darlow performed creditably in the 2020/21 season when called upon to deputise for the injured Martin Dubravka. His 25 matches between the sticks were for the most part a success, although when Dubravka returned to fitness he was soon restored to the number one spot for the Geordies. Should Darlow remain with Newcastle it seems that he is likely to play the role of number two for the foreseeable future.
6. Shaka Hislop
Clean Sheets: 13
Shaka Hislop signed for Newcastle in 1995 and he would go on to play for the club for three years, amassing 53 Premier League appearances in that time. Despite being popular with both the fans and his teammates, Hislop never really managed to make the position his own in the face of stiff competition from Pavel Srnicek and Shay Given. An imposing figure between the sticks, Shaka was known for his reflexive shot-stopping, and these days he works as a TV pundit for ESPN.
5. Martin Dubravka
Clean Sheets: 29
Slovak net-minder Dubravka initially joined Newcastle on loan in January 2018, but impressed so much in his debut season that a permanent move was agreed. In the 2018/19 season Dubravka was rated the top goalkeeper in the Premier League by the influential FourFourTwo magazine, and he has continued to impress since then. Dubravka and Darlow have both had periods as number one keeper with Newcastle but based on recent form it seems that Martin is the main man. If he is able to maintain those standards over the years to come, Dubravka may even move higher up on this list.
4. Tim Krul
Clean Sheets: 45
Tim Krul made a fantastic first impression on his debut for Newcastle when, aged just 18, he pulled off a string of high-quality saves in the 2006 UEFA Cup tie with Palermo. Krul would go on to play for the club for 12 years, enjoying a number of successful seasons when his shot-stopping ability garnered valuable points for Newcastle. As the years passed he struggled with injuries, and he left the club in 2007 – aged 29 – and spent a decade on loan to various different clubs. Finally a transfer to Norwich saw a return to the form of old, and he was named that team’s Player of the Season for the 2019-20 campaign.
3. Steve Harper
Clean Sheets: 22
The 88 Premier League appearances by Steve Harper simply do not do justice to his status as a legendary Newcastle player. Harper is the longest-serving player in Newcastle’s history, his 20-year career spanning 1993 to 2013. Although a fan favourite, Harper spent the majority of his Newcastle career as a back up to Srnicek, Hislop and Shay Given. For a period under manager Ruud Gullit Harper looked like he had taken the number 1 jersey from Given, but when Gullit left the club Steve returned to bench-warming duties. Harper finally got his breakthrough when Given left the club for Man City, and he played 50 consecutive matches in the seasons that followed, cementing his legacy as an all-time Newcastle favourite.
2. Pavel Srnicek
Clean Sheets: 39
Tragically, Pavel Srnicek’s life was taken far too early when he suffered a cardiac arrest during a run at the age of just 47. He is remembered fondly by all Newcastle fans as well as those who shared the pitch with him during his footballing career. Srnicek played for Newcastle from 1991 to ’98, and even made a season-long return at the age of 38 to cover the position when injuries struck the trio of keepers with the club at the time. The Czech international was posthumously inducted into the NUFC Hall of Fame, and he will forever be remembered as a club legend.
Clean Sheets: 91
There can be little question as to who takes the honour of being called Newcastle’s top keeper in the Premier League era. Donegal native Shay Given made more than twice as many appearances as any other goalkeeper since ’93, and his shot-stopping abilities and command of his area have him top of our list. Although small in stature for a keeper, Given saw off challenges from Harper, Srnicek and Hislop to make the number one shirt his own. Shay spent the best years of his career at Newcastle, enjoying a fruitful 12 years with the club which included Champions League nights and cup finals among them, cementing his position as best NUFC keeper since the Premier League era began.