''I've Got This, Lads'' - When Outfield Players Go In Goal

Kyle Walker was called into action in an unusual role for Man City
13:25, 07 Nov 2019

Nothing gets a football fan going like the sight of an outfield player going in goal. And when substitute goalkeeper Claudio Bravo - on for the injured Ederson - was sent off in Manchester City’s Champions League clash with Atalanta on Wednesday, Pep Guardiola was forced to ask England full-back Kyle Walker to don the gloves, much to the delight of the neutrals watching on.

Walker made a fair old meal of blocking a free-kick to start his shift between the sticks, but in recording a 10-minute clean sheet in the 1-1 draw he became the first English goalkeeper to make a save in the Champions League since Leicester City’s Ben Hamer against Porto in 2016. He is now also the third-most expensive goalkeeper of all time!

A fair old selection of players have ended up donning the gloves at some point in their careers, with notorious bad-boy turned Hollywood star Vinnie Jones giving it a whirl a couple of times, so here’s an eclectic smorgasbord of more brilliant occasions when outfield players have been conscripted into goal.


John O’Shea

Can we call him a Manchester United legend? We’re going to go out on a limb and decree him so. The Irish Pele, he who had the audacity to nutmeg the great Luis Figo, scorer of ludicrous chips against Arsenal (Ok ‘chip’...), a hero at Anfield. O’Shea turned into O’Shay Given against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane in February 2007. Edwin van der Sar’s broken nose and a lack of subs for Sir Alex Ferguson to call upon left O’Shea heading for the hot seat and he took on the role with gusto, coming out for corners and denying an onrushing Robbie Keane to keep United’s back-line unblemished in a 4-0 rout in north London.

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Harry Kane v Asteras Tripoli

Usually it’s a defender who opts to take the padded gloves when there’s no one left. Harry Kane is one of the most prolific strikers in Europe, a double-Premier League Golden Boot winner and only the second Englishman to win the same award at a World Cup.

Keeper Kane he ain’t, but he took his opportunity at the right time, in Tottenham’s 5-1 Europa League thrashing of Asteras Tripoli in 2014 at White Hart Lane. After bagging a hat-trick, Kane thought he could be a hero at the other end of the pitch too, stepping in when Hugo Lloris saw red and manager Mauricio Pochettino had no subs left to play. But Kane’s was a shift in goal that would be remembered for more slapstick reasons, with the England captain letting a meek free-kick slip through his fingers.

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Rio Ferdinand v Portsmouth

Ferdinand must have fancied replicating the heroics of teammate O’Shea when he stepped up to the plate in the March 2008 FA Cup quarter-final tie with Portsmouth after substitute Tomasz Kuszczak had been sent off. Unfortunately, despite guessing the right way, Rio failed to keep Sulley Muntari’s spot-kick out and Harry Redknapp’s Pompey held on for a 1-0 win on the way to a memorable FA Cup triumph that year.

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Bobby Moore v Stoke City

The only Englishman to lift the Jules Rimet Trophy as captain, Bobby Moore solidified his legendary status even further (if possible) in the 1972 League Cup semi-final replay against Stoke City on a freezing January night. Forced into the West Ham nets, Moore curiously found himself in the opposite goal to ‘66 teammate Gordon Banks, and the famous No.6 managed to save a penalty from the Potters’ Mike Bernard, though Bernard got the last laugh by slotting in the rebound.

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Phil Jagielka v Arsenal

In his pre-Everton days, Phil Jagielka (you’re pronouncing it wrong) was a stellar Sheffield United centre-back. In an EPL game in 2006 he was shifted into goal against Arsenal when Paddy Kenny injured himself when taking a goal kick a quarter-of-an-hour into the second half.

"I never bothered with a sub goalkeeper, I thought an extra striker was more important," then-Blades manager Neil Warnock later said. "When we used to practice, Jagielka put his gloves on and he wasn't bad at all really so I thought: 'Why worry about a sub keeper?’"

Remarkably Jags kept a clean-sheet against the Gunners and majestically tipped a Robin van Persie effort over the bar, sealing a 1-0 win for the home side at Bramall Lane. Jagielka has now returned to the club at which he began his career, and we can only hope he also returns to the goalkeeping role at least once more before he hangs up both his boots and his gloves.

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Niall Quinn v Derby County

If you think you’re something special Kyle Walker, think again. Way back in April 1991, an aeon before the Sheikh Mansour takeover, City cult hero Niall Quinn memorably went in goal AND saved a penalty against Derby County. City won the game 2-1, with Quinn first scoring and then stepping up at the back after Tony Coton had been sent off for fouling Dean Saunders, who stepped up to take the resulting spot-kick. Incredibly, the subsequent save and ultimate result also condemned the Rams to a life outside of Division One. You have to be in it to Quinn it.

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Cosmin Moti v Steaua Bucharest

The crème de la crème. Ludogorets defender Cosmin Moti was forced to go in goal in the dying minutes of extra-time in a Champions League qualifier against former European Cup winners Steaua Bucharest, with the scores tied at 1-1 on aggregate. Naturally, this meant him retaining the gloves when the penalty shoot-out came around.

After scoring his own penalty, Moti produced two absolutely stupendous saves in the dramatic shootout to send the Bulgarian club into the group stage of the competition for the first time in their history! Cosmic Cosmin!

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