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We Love It When Outfield Players Go In Goal

Manchester United's John O'Shea when he stood in for injured goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar in 2007 - one of several outfield players to have picked up the gloves in times of crisis
Manchester United's John O'Shea when he stood in for injured goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar in 2007 - one of several outfield players to have picked up the gloves in times of crisis

Along with red cards, mass brawls and streakers, there are few things that happen on a football pitch that get the crowd more excited than an outfield player having to go in goal.

With gloves that look more like oven mitts and a shirt that is inevitably three sizes too big, a striker going between the sticks is, unfortunately, something of a rarity these days, what with £60,000 a week reserves sitting on the bench every game.

But occasionally we are treated to the sight that transports us straight back to our days on the school playground as the game, if only briefly, adopts the “rush goalie” rule; meaning anything can happen.

So here are just some of those more memorable occasions from down the years.

Bobby Moore: West Ham v Stoke, 1972

When West Ham faced Stoke City in a League Cup replay in 1972, not only did it reunite two of England’s heroic 1966 World Cup winners, an injury to the Hammers ‘keeper meant that the man who had lifted the Jules Rimet trophy some six years before ended up in goal.

When Bobby Ferguson left the field for treatment Moore needed little encouragement to show his former teammate down the other end how it’s done and donning the green jersey Moore pulled off a string of saves that Gordon Banks would have been proud of.

Incredibly, the former England skipper even saved a penalty - only for Mike Bernard to tuck home the rebound.

Peter Beardsley and Chris Hedworth: West Ham v Newcastle, 1986

On April 21, 1986, West Ham defender Alvin Martin went down in footballing folklore by scoring a hat-trick with each of his three goals coming against a different goalkeeper.

With first choice Martin Thomas struggling with a shoulder injury, the Magpies found themselves 4-0 down at the break and with their goalie in obvious agony Chris Hedworth was thrown the gloves.

Martin, who had already scored past Thomas, then beat Hedworth with 15 minutes left, but the stand-in goalie hurt himself attempting to save the header and was replaced by Peter Beardsley.

But the forward fared no better in goal, letting in three more as West Ham hit eight – the final goal being scored by none other than Alvin Martin from the penalty spot.

Niall Quinn: Manchester City v Derby County, 1991

Having already scored against relegation-threatened Derby the big forward then found himself being called into action at the other end when City goalkeeper Tony Coton was sent-off for a professional foul.

His first job was to face a Dean Saunders penalty and as the Rams striker stepped up Quinn heroically flung himself to his left and saved the kick.

As it turned out, Quinn’s save and the subsequent defeat ultimately meant that Derby were relegated just a few weeks later.

Lucas Radebe: Man Utd v Leeds, 1996

Lucas Radebe started out life as a goalkeeper before he converted to a central defender, but when Leeds travelled to Old Trafford in April 1996 he found himself between the sticks once again.

After regular keeper Mark Beeney was sent off early-on Howard Wilkinson was left with little choice but to call upon the services of the former stopper, and as the home side lay siege to the visitor’s goal Radebe put in a stunning display to keep out everything that was thrown at him.

But with 20 minutes remaining, Roy Keane was finally able to beat the stand-in and United managed to sneak a 1-0 win.

John O’Shea: Tottenham v Man Utd, 2007

When Edwin van der Sar suffered a broken nose in the dying moments of United’s visit to White Hart Lane in 2007 Alex Ferguson was left with a dilemma having made all of his three changes.

With reserve goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak stranded on the bench John O’Shea finally stepped up to see out the final few minutes between the posts.

Luckily for the Irish defender and his manager, United were 4-0 up at the time, otherwise things might have been a little more tricky.

Rio Ferdinand: Man Utd v Portsmouth, 2008

United were on course for a treble when Portsmouth arrived at Old Trafford in the FA Cup quarter-final back in 2008, but a bizarre sequence of events soon saw an end to their three-pronged assault on silverware.

With Edwin Van der Sar off injured and his replacement Tomas Kuszczak shown a red card, Rio was thrust into the United goal and immediately faced a Sulley Muntari's penalty.

Although he guessed the right way, the penalty was far too powerful and United were out of the cup, with the Red Devils having to make do with just the league title and Champions League instead.

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