What Is a Clean Sheets In Soccer? (Explained)

What Is a Clean Sheet In Soccer? (Explained)

In soccer, clean sheets is earned when one team prevents the opposing team from scoring. Even if some soccer matches end with few goals, it still requires a collective effort to keep the other team from scoring, and the goalie inevitably has the most impact.

Oftentimes when you see a soccer game and listen to the commentators, it may sound confusing due to the several soccer tags and names that are used in the commentary. An ardent follower of the game of soccer and frequent viewer will be used to some of this soccer jargon.

Words like caps indicate the number of international games played by a player for his national team, Brace signifies two goals scored by a single player in a single game, a hat-trick for the feat of scoring three goals in a single match, and a lot more.

Many soccer followers may not really understand what a clean sheet is because it is not necessarily or immediately understandable nor it is it self-explanatory.

So it is normal if you wonder what a clean sheet means in a soccer game. Where does a clean sheet happen on the pitch of play? How is a clean sheet decided in a soccer game? What does it mean when there isn’t a clean sheet in a game?

Follow us to find the answer to all thing’s numerous questions.

What Is a Clean Sheets In Soccer?

What Is a Clean Sheet In Soccer? (Explained)

In football, a clean sheet is secured when the defense and goalkeeper are successful in keeping the opposition from scoring. This would indicate that the final score would be anything to nil. For example,  Barcelona would have kept a clean sheet in the game if they beat PSG 1-0.

So the basis of a soccer game is to outscore your opponent, usually and except in rare occasions where teams don’t have enough players to make a complete team, both sides start the game with 11 players on each side.

The objective is to put the ball with any part of your body except both arms into your opposition’s net more times than your own opponent, wherever outscores the other after the duration of 90 minutes for a standard game emerges the winner.

It’s a pretty easy and straightforward lesson about a soccer game which may initially look unnecessary but because of the nature of this topic and what a clean sheet stands for in a soccer match, it was important to do the little introduction.

Any of the 11 players on the pitch of play is permitted to score a goal and there is no limit to the number of goals that can be scored in a particular match including goalkeepers as much as they are limited to the goal post and their box 18. Meanwhile, they can also score a goal if the opportunity comes but it is not something that emerges from a soccer match frequently.

That means that while there are winners and losers on certain days, there are usually stalemates on other days, and also sometimes while a particular team can get to score their opponents, the opposition may not be strong enough to score in the duration of the game.

Therefore, if two goals by a single player in a single match are called a brace and 3 goals in a game by a single player are tagged a hat trick, what then is what is the name for a situation where no goal is scored?

In a soccer match obviously, the player who provides the final pass that leads to a goal is the assist maker, when midfielders and defenders steal or obstruct the opponent, it is known as a tackle and when a goalkeeper stops a ball from going into the net it is known as a save.

However, what if the goalkeeper does not concede at all during the duration of a game of 90 minutes it sure deserves a name and a tag for such a brilliant feat.

That is where the clean sheet comes in. A clean sheet is when a soccer team manages not to concede a goal in the entire duration of a soccer match.


What Is The Origin of The Word “Clean Sheet”?

The word clean sheet has been present in football for as long as the game has been because there has always been the need to document the statistics from a soccer match.

Before the use of technology in sports, scores, statistics, and relevant information is always written down on a sheet of paper.

The number of goals, penalties, and free kicks, and all were put down to track the progress of the game.

If one team scored and the other didn’t, the team unable to score will have a blank space. The team that didn’t get scored will be said to have a clean sheet.

What is The Significance Of a Clean Sheet?

While it is known that defending and keeping a clean sheet is joint work, with less teamwork for the defenders, the goalkeepers are usually the major focus when clean sheets come up.

On a big scale, keeping a clean sheet means that a team doesn’t concede, the more games they play without conceding, the bigger advantage they have over others in terms of goals difference, especially as a high-scoring side.

A high goal difference can decide the title winner if two teams finish the season level on points or inseparable.

Sometimes, it reflects on the defensive players too as their individual performances are spotlighted in the discussions about clean sheets come up.

Meanwhile, goalkeepers are the biggest winner when talks about clean sheets come up because it is they who are seen not to have conceded or let a goal in their nets.

Therefore, clean sheets are recorded, just like goals, for soccer goalkeepers. This means in deciding who gets the Golden gloves, where applicable, clean sheets will be considered.

Off the pitch, clean sheets come into importance for bettors, international and standard betting platforms have clean sheet markets that users can stake on.

Can Both Teams Record Clean Sheets in a Game?

Absolutely, since a clean sheet means shutting out your opponent from scoring, it’s very possible for the two teams to record clean sheets just like both teams can score.

Games can end with a 0-0 scoreline, goalless draw, and stalemate, if this happens, then both teams have managed to record a clean sheet each.

What Happens When Goalkeepers Are Changed Mid-game?

Surprisingly though if a goalkeeper is changed during the game, both the first-choice goalkeeper and the substitute goalkeeper will share separate statistics but the team will be rated based on the whole game.

So goalkeeper A can keep a clean sheet if he doesn’t concede before his withdrawal, and goalkeeper B will also be considered he managed a clean sheet if he doesn’t let a goal in while he gets involved in the game.

Interesting, both can also concede in the same game but if it is only one of the goalkeepers that concede, the team loses its clean sheet statistics while one of the goalkeepers can claim a clean sheet if the goal wasn’t scored when he was on the pitch.


Which Goalkeeper Has The Highest Number of Clean sheets?

In the world of soccer, Italian goalkeeping Legend Gianluigi Buffon is the goalkeeper with the cleanest sheet in history. The Juventus Legend has over 500 clean sheets in his career.

While the Italian played for a couple of clubs, most of his clean sheets came while playing for Italian Giants Juventus, he also played for Paris Saint-Germain in the French Ligue 1 and is active in the lower divisions of the Italian football league with Parma.

His 201 clean sheets for Juventus remain the record in the Italian Seria A.

Also worthy of a mention is Dutch goalkeeping Legend and former Manchester United goalkeeper Edwin Van der Sar who managed 132 clean sheets in his Premier League career but overall the legendary goalkeeper has 440.

Edwin van der Sar had joined the Premier League with Fulham but his performances despite being 35 years old at that time spawned Sir Alex Ferguson to bring him to Old Trafford where he won four Premier League titles

He is matched by Spanish goalkeeper Iker Casillas who also has 440 clean sheets in his professional career the Spanish legend kept for Real Madrid and FC Porto.

Play well in the Premier League, the record holder in terms of clean sheets is Czech Republic ex-international and former Chelsea and Arsenal goalkeeper Peter Cech.

His record of 202 clean sheets still stands in the Premier League and also is the fastest 100 Premier League clean sheets even though Peter Schmeicel was the first goalkeeper to reach 100 Premier League clean sheets.

The other two goalkeepers in the top three of the Premier League goalkeepers with the most sheets include English man David James with 169 clean sheets, he kept for Liverpool and Portsmouth amongst others in the Premier League. As well as Aussie goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer who had 151 clean sheets in his Premier League career.




Basically, we have been able to establish that clean sheets are a tag for not conceding in a soccer match. Although it is a general knowledge that keeping a clean sheet involves good defensive formation including that of the defenders but sometimes the goalkeepers can be the huge difference-maker in a game.

Clean sheets can occur if a team has a brilliant goalkeeper, and very good defenders, and where applicable when the opponents have a very poor attack.




No comments yet. Why don’t you start the discussion?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *