Hearts 21st century XI - The best goalkeeper revealed

When it comes to goalkeepers in Scotland's capital there is a certain yin and yang concept.

Friday, 14th June 2019, 12:23 pm
Craig Gordon was sensational for Hearts but it wasn't enough to be the best in the 21st century. Picture: SNS

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Hearts 21st century XI - Vote for the goalkeeper

While Hibs have had their issues with the man between the sticks, Hearts have been blessed with two of the finest in the club's history in the 21st century

That was reflected in the voting for the best in the position since 2000.

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Antti Niemi saving Hearts. As he did many times. Picture: SNS

Antti Niemi and Craig Gordon dominated the voting with more than 90 per cent between them.

However, it was the Finn who triumphed with nearly 50 per cent at the time of writing.

Niemi is fondly remembered at Tynecastle, his departure from the club to Southampton in 2002 for around £2million still hurts fans. It was a fee which former chief Chris Robinson said was crucial.

The Hearts support witnessed a goalkeeper in his prime. Spellbinding save after spellbinding save.

There was the spring to stop a header at Parkhead which Celtic fans were already celebrating, then there was the point-blank save at Fir Park which defied football logic.

These saves were produced on a regular basis. The spectacular became the normal.

Even when the game wasn't going on he didn't switch off, producing a save at the end of the 5-1 win over Hibs in 2002. An opponent had thrashed the ball at goal after the full-time whistle and, with towel in hand, he plucked the ball away from the net.

Hearts fans took great pride in seeing him continue to work his magic in the Premier League with Southampton and Fulham.

A goalkeeping great who should be talked about a lot more.

Perhaps the best compliment to him is that he is viewed better than Craig Gordon.

The Scotland goalkeeper's current club Celtic may have put some fans off in the vote but he was sensational for Hearts, helping the side to the 2006 Scottish Cup final and to finish in second in the league that season.

The save to thwart a David Clarkson volley in 2005 was incredible. But it was nothing compared to the scarcely believable triple save against Sparta Prague. The first with his foot down to his right, then one down to his left before reacting to push the ball over the bar for the third.

Two goalkeepers of the highest pedigree.

• Voting for the right-back slot in the best Hearts XI of the 21st century will begin on Saturday.