Manuel Neuer kept a record-breaking 200th clean sheet for Bayern Munich against Atletico Madrid in midweek , and the former record holder has backed him to keep 100 more.
Bayern legend Sepp Maier recorded 199 shut-outs for the Bundesliga giants in 651 appearances between 1962 and 1980, but has seen Neuer overhaul his total in just 394 games.
Now 34, Neuer has recovered his best form after a difficult spell, and came third in the UEFA Player of the Year award for 2019-20 .
“I am sure that he can even go past 300 clean sheets. He can do that,” Maier told Sport1 . “He will still perform outstandingly at the age of 39. I trust him to do that.”
However, even the German goalkeeping icon admitted Neuer isn’t the only man to thank for Bayern’s defensive prowess.
“Neuer is not the only one to thank for keeping so many clean sheets,” Maier said. “The defence has a 50 per cent share in it.
“If they know that they have a good goalkeeper behind them, they automatically play better. If there’s a liability in goal, that’s bad for the defenders. But with Neuer they know he’s world class, so the ball can go through to him.”
Neuer’s long-term future at the Allianz Arena seemed to be in doubt this year. In signing Alexander Nubel from Schalke , Bayern bought one of Germany’s most highly-rated young keepers.
Nubel made his debut in the DFB-Pokal win over fifth-tier FC Duren earlier this month, but Maier thinks the 24-year-old should have been sent straight back out on loan.
“The transfer made sense from Bayern’s point of view. He’s a great talent, but he should have been loaned out straight away because he has to play regularly.
“It would have been best to go back to Schalke. That would have been the best way to get match practice. Bayern already had a great number two in Sven Ulreich.
“I think Manuel wants to play every game – and that’s right. He always plays well, so why should he sit out [cup games]?
“I can’t sympathise with a goalkeeper only playing in the cup. I always wanted to play. You just have this ambition as a goalkeeper. It doesn’t matter whether you’re 21 or 39 years old. It was the same with Oliver Kahn.”