When I got into football Gordon Banks had just retired and England had Peter Shilton and Ray Clemence between the sticks, while Northern Ireland had the one and only Pat Jennings. Not only was he a top goalkeeper but he was also a dab hand at selling sausages.
My first Northern Ireland away game was at Wembley against England in '85 and we needed a draw to qualify for Mexico '86. Facing a goalkeeping crisis Jennings came out of retirement for the game and pulled off a series of world class saves to deny the English and earn the 0-0 draw. Jennings like Shilton, Clemence and Banks was world class.
The English league in the 70s seemed well stacked with decent keepers. Into the 80s and 90s and Scotland had Jim Leighton while Wales had Neville Southall. The Republic had Bonner and then Shay Given, neither world class but still pretty decent, while England had Chris Woods then David Seaman with Nigel Martyn as back up, all good keepers.
At the end of the 90s I read an article in one of the daily papers' sport sections lauding the next generation of England keepers. They named the young future stars of English football as Paul Robinson, David James, Scott Carson, Richard Wright, Rob Green, Chris Kirkland and Nicky Weaver. Not one of them made it to the top. Sure, some of them had pretty decent club careers and most won a few caps for England but none of them became world class. Since then we have seen Joe Hart and Jack Butland come and go without making a significant impact on world football. The current crop of Jordan Pickford and Nick Pope look mediocre at best with Pickford looking capable of a howler at any minute. The Republic, Wales and Northern Ireland are currently reduced to using practically unknowns, while Scotland are using the keepers from Hearts and Derby County. The "home" nations are still producing quality in all the other departments but none of them has a world class keeper or any depth in the keeping department.
How did it come to this? I guess it must come down to coaching and first team opportunities. The best two teams in England at the moment have two Brazilians wearing the number 1 jersey, Edison at City and Alisson at Liverpool. The only team in the top 10 to have a local keeper is Everton with Pickford and I wouldn't bet on him staying at number 1 next season.