As Robert Sánchezsaw the red card brandished in his face after a VAR check, the hearts of Brighton’s fans collectively skipped a beat. They had made all their substitutions, and the only option was for captain Lewis Dunk to don the luminous yellow shirt and fill in for the remaining minutes of Brighton’s match against Newcastle United. Luckily for Dunk, the Magpies were unable to properly test him, and the makeshift stopper saw out the 1-1 draw.
Everyone loves it when an outfield player is forced to don the goalkeeper’s jersey and mind the net for part of the game, even if it leaves fans of that team biting their nails in fear. On numerous occasions in the history of the Premier League, unfamiliar faces have been forced to step up and keep the goal after their stopper was either red-carded or forced off through injury. Let’s have a look at a few of the most famous examples!
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Vinnie Jones (Newcastle vs Wimbledon, 1995-96)
With a reputation as one of the Premier League’s all-time hard men, Vinnie Jones’ goalkeeping heroics are often forgotten about. After Wimbledon goalkeeper Paul Heald was sent off in a match against Newcastle at St. James Park, Jones was forced to step up to the mark.
Amazingly, the midfielder made some stunning saves, before Newcastle eventually turned the screw. Indeed, all three of the goals that the home side scored would have troubled any Premier League goalkeeper, never mind a tough-tackling defensive midfielder. Unlucky, Vinnie!
Phil Jagielka (Sheffield United vs Arsenal, 2006-07)
Perhaps the most famous example of an outfield player going in goal in the Premier League, Phil Jagielka put in an outstanding performance for Sheffield United when he went between the sticks against Arsenal in 2006.
The Blades had named no goalkeeper on the bench, a tactic regularly employed by manager Neil Warnock, so they were forced to rely on Jagielka for over half an hour. However, the defender was inspired, making some key saves as Sheffield United defied the Premier League odds to secure a famous 1-0 win.
John O’Shea (Tottenham Hotspur vs Manchester United, 2006-07)
When Edwin van der Saar was left unconscious following a collision with Robbie Keane, Manchester United needed a hero. Rio Ferdinand initially looked like he was going to don the green goalkeeper’s jersey, but the honor ultimately went to John O’Shea to try and see out a victory against Tottenham at White Hart Lane.
Ferdinand put his teammate under the cosh with a weak backpass, but O’Shea channeled his inner Schmeichel and rushed out to deny Keane as the Irishman bore down on goal. United’s bench watched on in a mixture of nerves and laughter, but O’Shea held firm and Sir Alex Ferguson’s side got the job done.
John Terry (Reading vs Chelsea, 2006-07)
The 2006-07 season was a vintage year for outfield players going in goal, and Chelsea’s trip to Reading was a prime example. Petr Cech was forced off in the first half after suffering a nasty head injury before substitute Carlo Cudicini was also laid low towards the end of the match.
Cue Mr. Chelsea himself — John Terry. The Blues’ skipper slipped on the gloves and plonked himself between the sticks, helping to secure an important win for José Mourinho’s side on a fraught afternoon.
Angel Rangel (Cardiff City vs Swansea City, 2013-14)
We’re heading to south Wales for our final example, and the first-ever Premier League match contested between arch-rivals Cardiff City and Swansea City. It was an evening to forget for Michael Laudrup’s Swans, as Cardiff notched a 1-0 win thanks to a Steven Caulker header.
The night was compounded when goalkeeper Michel Vorm was shown a red card in stoppage time, meaning right-back Angel Rangel had to take his place in goal. Rangel even notched a solid save, denying Peter Whittingham from a free-kick, but it was a dismal day for Swansea in the Welsh capital.