The former Italy goalkeeper has lavished praise on the Germany star and says his ability with the ball at his feet marks him out as a cut above his peers
Forget his ability with his hands, it’s Manuel Neuer’s poise on the ball that marks him out as the best in the world in the eyes of Dino Zoff.
The former Italy goalkeeper is recognised as one of the finest to have pulled on a pair of gloves and has kept a close eye on the current generation of keepers at the World Cup.
Brazil’s Julio Cesar and Keylor Navas of Costa Rica are two men who have caught the eye following their penalty shoot-out heroics, but for Zoff there is one man who stands head and shoulders above the rest.
He told Gazzetta dello Sport: “The German goalkeeper (Neuer) is currently number one in the world. He has class, coldness, a sense of place. And, compared to many of his colleagues, he has one more weapon … he’s terrific with his feet. “
Neuer will be the first name on the team sheet when Germany take on Brazil in the first of the two World Cup semi-finals on Tuesday, where he will line-up against opposite number Cesar.
The Brazil goalkeeper has rolled back the years at the tournament after a mixed couple of years at club level, in which relegation from the Premier League with Queens Park Rangers was followed by a loan move to MLS side Toronto FC.
Zoff has been impressed with Cesar’s ability to raise his game and pointed to his obvious preparation prior to saving two penalties in the shoot-out victory over Chile.
“You could see that he had studied well the characteristics of the Chilean penalty takers,” Zoff explained.
“I’m happy because Julio must have had a year of hell. First put off by QPR, then forced to emigrate to Toronto to play.
“Julio is a leader. Maybe he’s not as explosive as in the days of Inter but he is still one of the most reliable goalkeepers in the world.”