A goalkeeper’s role is arguably the most important one on a football pitch and yet, there’s little argument over the fact that it is the most underrated one. Hardly, a goalkeeper is praised duly for his heroics in front of the goal that often lead to a team’s success in winning titles. Sadly, goalkeeping is one field where an individual is recognized only for what he fails to do. However, as a very important year in football comes to an end, here we take a look at some of the finest goalkeepers from 2012 who helped their respective defences keep at bay.

Rene Adler (Hamburg)

This man has been nothing short of a revelation for Hamburg this season. Following the previous season at Leverkusen, most fans must have put it past Adler to come back and take Germany’s top flight by storm. But the 27-year-old has proved everyone wrong and been the lone defensive hope for HSV so far.

Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus)

Euro 2012: Italy's BuffonTwo injury plagued seasons had seen some critics dismiss “Superman” away as a spent force but how he has made a comeback under Antonio Conte! Buffon has come back to his very best form in past one year and played a vital role in Juventus defence having the best record among top European leagues. His shocking error against Lecce in wee end of Serie A 2011/12 season was a minor blemish in an otherwise perfect year. He also excelled with the national team and was one of the main reasons behind Italy’s unexpected journey to a podium finish in Euro 2012.

Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Borussia Mönchengladbach)

Leverkusen

What a year this boy has had! Coming from the shadows at Borussia Mönchengladbach, the teenage sensation rose from strength to strength over the past year and it came as no surprise when he was called up to the national team for the European Championship in June. He continues to stun the world with his goal saving antics and there seems to be no bound to his ability.

Petr Cech (Chelsea) 

Juan Mata described him as angel in the Champions League Final and it would be hard to disagree. Cech started the year low on confidence as Chelsea struggled to adapt to Andre Villas Boas’ new style of play but came back to his best under Di Matteo. He was immense for the Blues in the final months of last season, especially in the games against Barcelona and Bayern Munich with his penalty save and shoot-out heroics almost single-handedly earning Chelsea the European Cup. Cech carried his form into the current season, at times doing it all on his own as Chelsea’s defence leaked goals left and right, and was behind only Asmir Begovic of Stoke City in terms of clean sheets (Cech has 8 while Begovic has 9) when an injury on his 400th appearance for the club ruled him out for a few weeks, ending a sensational year on a relative low. He has made several important saves this season and continues to be an assuring presence between the posts for Chelsea.

Iker Casillas (Real Madrid)

The Spanish captain had a wonderful first half of the year but as the year ended, he looked more distraught than ever and was relegated to the bench at Real Madrid. He has played his part in Real Madrid La Liga triumph this year pulling off magnificent saves whenever called upon and further heightened his appeal with a decent display in the Euros and one more victorious penalty shootout against Portugal. As the new season progressed, Real Madrid’s defense was been found wanting on many occasion especially at set pieces but this can be majorly attributed to the central defensive pairing of Ramos and Pepe. All said and done, it has been a mixed year for Casillas. But his triumphs in the major tournaments overshadow his low points of the year.