clean sheet soccer

What Is a Clean Sheet in Soccer? Meaning, Origin, and Examples

You’ve probably heard the term clean sheet in soccer. The same is available in American football or hockey. When teams finish a game without scoring, we call it a shutout. However, a different term is used in soccer. A clean sheet.

So, what is a clean sheet in soccer? A clean sheet in football simply means teams playing a game to the final whistle without conceding a goal. When a team has a clean sheet in soccer, it simply means the game ended without the team conceding a goal.

While soccer is a relatively low-scoring game, it can be pretty hard for teams to keep a clean sheet. Join me below as I discuss more on clean sheets in soccer, examples, and how teams manage to keep clean sheets.

Why Is It Called a Clean Sheet?

The term clean sheet is not new in the history of soccer having originated in the 1930s when teams’ scores could be kept in sheets. It so happened that when a team would not score a goal, their side of the sheet would be empty. This meant leaving the sheet side clean.

A team that didn’t score would have a scoreless reference on the sheet. The sheet would be clean without any writing, hence the term a clean sheet. 

Generally, different statistics would be kept in different sheets. The sheets of paper where results were written were usually white and rectangular. This gave the visual of a clean sheet when nothing was written on them.

Clean sheets would appear on both sides if the score ended 0-0 or one side if only one team managed to score.

How Do You Calculate a Clean Sheet in Soccer?

A clean sheet can be calculated by looking at the goals scored. 

In short form, a clean sheet = zero goals.

Count the number of goals scored by the opposing team. If a team doesn’t let any goals through, then the team has a clean sheet.

playing soccer

Clean Sheet Examples 

Now that you have a clear understanding of what a soccer clean sheet means, let’s have a look at a few examples.

Below are three examples of clean sheets in soccer:

  • Brazil 0- 3 France in the 1998 World Cup Final
  • Liverpool 2 – 0 Tottenham Hotspurs in the 2019 Champions League Final
  • France 0- 0 Denmark in the 2018 World Cup Group Stages

These three are excellent examples of clean sheets in soccer. The famous 1998 World Cup Final in Paris where France won by three goals without conceding a goal.

A world cup final is by far the biggest soccer game teams can participate in. France proved to be one of the best teams in 1998 by winning the final without conceding a single goal. It kept a clean sheet.

Another good example is the 2019 Champions League final where Liverpool won without conceding a goal.

Our final example is the 2018 group stage games where France and Denmark played out to a goalless draw. It was the first goalless draw since the 2014 semi-final between Argentina and Netherlands.

Importance of a Clean Sheet in Soccer

The importance of a clean sheet is that you’re guaranteed of at least, now losing the game. In soccer, teams are in it to win the game.

And, to win games, teams must score goals. You can only lose a soccer game by conceding more goals than you score.

However, if you keep a clean sheet, you’re guaranteed at least a draw. Defenders and goalkeepers work hard to ensure their teams don’t concede.

Looking on how to be a good goalkeeper and help your team keep a clean sheet? Learn from the best goalkeepers like David Seaman, Edwin Van der Sar, Gianluigi Buffon, and many more.

Who Has the Cleanest Sheets in Soccer History?

The most clean sheet in Soccer when you compare the English Premier League and Champions League is Peter Cech. He has 202 clean sheets in the EPL and 49 in the Champions League. These two are the best leagues in the world.

soccer team

What Is No Clean Sheet in Soccer?

A no clean sheet in soccer is a term that refers to a team that will not score a goal. It is a term used in the betting industry where punters place a bet opposing a team that will score a goal.

How Do Soccer Players Keep Clean Sheets?

Soccer players keep clean sheets by preventing the opposing team from scoring. They can do this by defending well and shutting out the opponents’ attackers from scoring.


Well, that wraps everything from us! Now you know teams keep a clean sheet when they finish a game without conceding a goal. Keeping a clean sheet is important in soccer as it guarantees teams they will not lose a game.

Teams can only keep clean sheets when they have a good defense and goalkeeper. This allows them to prevent their opponents from scoring for the entire match.

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