He was even said to hold the best-selling Sunday paper’s record for the highest number of consecutive front-page leads.
But his career was brought to a halt when he was jailed for four months in 2007 for plotting to hack into Royal aides’ telephone messages.
Judge Mr Justice Gross told him: “This was low conduct, reprehensible in the extreme.”
His conviction prompted the paper’s then-editor, Andy Coulson, to resign.
Known for his pin-striped suits and slicked-back hair, the former royal editor earned himself the nickname the “Eternal” or “Olympic Flame”, because he rarely went out.
He preferred to stay in the office, and was not normally spotted at royal engagements, relying instead on his contacts book and, as he admitted in court, on “other methods”.
Goodman, 53, is said to have been at home, chatting to Diana, Princess of Wales, on her mobile, when she told him about her night-time mercy visits to hospitals.
The paper had been staking her out in the hope of catching her with another man.
He earned accolades for his work. In 2002, he was named Royal Editor of the Year in The Real Press Awards.
That year he produced the exclusive “Harry’s Drugs Shame”, when the Prince of Wales’s younger son was revealed to have smoked cannabis.
Goodman took over the News of the World’s Blackadder column from ex-royal spin-doctor, Mark Bolland.
Writing about characters in the royal press pack, Bolland once declared of Goodman: “A dangerous man, is all I can say.”
Last year News International admitted to MPs that it made a payoff to Goodman after he threatened to go to an employment tribunal for unfair dismissal.
He was sacked after his conviction, but the company failed to follow statutory procedures.
He now works as a freelance reporter.