Milan’s Giroud and other heroic outfield goalkeepers

Milan’s Giroud and other heroic outfield goalkeepers
  • PublishedOctober 10, 2023


He’s won the World Cup, the Champions League, domestic league titles and even the FIFA Puskas Award, but at the weekend, striker Olivier Giroud was afforded the opportunity to add an exclusive honour to his already glittering career.

Giroud found himself initiated into the exalted order of outfield players who have to play as a goalkeeper, after AC Milan‘s first-choice stopper Mike Maignan was sent off in stoppage time amid a frantic end to their Serie A clash against Genoa.

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With several minutes left to play and a perilous 1-0 lead to protect, the Rossoneri needed a hero. Sure enough, they were able to rely on their veteran France striker, who had entered the fray as a 66th-minute substitute.

Wearing Maignan’s vacated No. 16 goalkeeping jersey and his own mismatched No. 9 shorts, Giroud managed to keep a clean sheet as the frantic finale played out at the Stadio Comunale and even pulled off a flying save to stub out a Genoa attack before the whistle sounded.

Giroud’s flawless stint between the sticks has been lauded by Milan in the aftermath, with the club even offering fans the chance to purchase their own replica No. 9 goalkeeper jersey via a limited offer on their online store.

An outfield player going in goal should always be celebrated, and Giroud can now rest safe in the knowledge that his career is well and truly complete. The former Arsenal and Chelsea forward joins his new brethren on an honour roll that stretches back decades. Here are some more.

Kyle Walker

Walker effectively became the fourth-most expensive goalkeeper in the world when the £47 million right-back volunteered to take over in goal during Man City’s Champions League tie against Atalanta in 2019.

After replacing Éderson at half-time, Claudio Bravo went on to record the dubious honour of becoming the first substitute keeper to be sent off in Champions League history, Walker then held the fort from the 81st minute onward and even made more saves (1) than both Bravo and Ederson had previously made during the game.


Having already scored a hat trick in a game against Gremio in 1963, Pele replaced Santos goalkeeper Gilmar when he was injured in the second half.

Pele volunteered to take the gloves. And he was pretty good, by all accounts. “He was a great goalkeeper,” teammate Pepê said. “Lithe, as if he could fly.”

Harry Kane

Much like Pele, Kane’s dalliance with emergency goalkeeping came after scoring a hat trick against Ludogorets in the Europa League during his Tottenham days.

The striker muddled manfully through the last three minutes, conceding once in rather embarrassing circumstances.

Sèrge Aurier

To say the Ivory Coast capitulated against Sierra Leone during their 2021 Africa Cup of Nations group stage tie is something of an understatement after the Elephants conceded a 93rd-minute equaliser, lost first-choice keeper Badra Ali Sangaré to injury in the process and then ended the game with right-back Aurier in goal.

Lewis Dunk

Brighton and Newcastle hammered out a 1-1 draw in November 2021 that saw the Seagulls spend the final few minutes of the match with centre-back Dunk playing as an auxiliary goalkeeper to cover the 92nd-minute sending-off of Robert Sánchez, which came after the home side had used all three of their available substitutes.

John Terry

No stranger to putting his body on the line for Chelsea, Terry went in goal against Reading in 2006 — the game in which Petr Cech suffered the serious head injury that led to him wearing a scrum cap for the rest of his career — only for replacement Carlo Cudicini to also get knocked unconscious later in the game.

Rio Ferdinand

England defender Ferdinand valiantly took up the gloves during Manchester United‘s FA Cup quarterfinal against Portsmouth in 2008, though immediately conceded via a Sulley Muntari penalty.

Vinnie Jones

The notorious Wimbledon hardman-turned-actor (still doesn’t sound right, does it?) went in goal against Newcastle at St James’ Park in 1995 and actually did make a few decent saves. However, he did concede three goals in 30 minutes as the Dons lost 6-1.

Mia Hamm

Not content with being one of the most formidable strikers in USWNT history, Hamm also kept a clean sheet for her country at a World Cup after going in goal for the final six minutes of a game against Denmark in 1995.

John O’Shea

Fully embracing his role as Manchester United’s resident utility man, O’Shea completed the full set when he took up his position in goal against Tottenham in 2007.

United were up 4-0 when Edwin van der Sar suffered a broken nose and his unlikely Irish replacement stepped in to ensure it ended that way at full time.

Lucas Radebe

Leeds United’s South African stalwart went in goal just 15 minutes into a Premier League game against Manchester United in 1996.

Radebe did a good job of keeping Andy Cole and Brian McClair at bay until a fierce Roy Keane strike eventually broke his impressive resolve.

Cosmin Moti

The ultimate end-of-level boss of all outfield players in goal. Moti attained instant footballing immortality when he took over for Ludogorets in 2014.

The grizzled centre-back replaced ‘keeper Vladislav Stoyanov when the latter was sent off in the final minute of extra-time during a tense Champions League qualifier against Steaua Bucharest.

The game ended 1-1 and went to penalties, wherein Moti proceeded to both score Ludo’s opening spot-kick and then make two vital saves in the shootout to send his side through to the group stage for the first time.

Now that’s how you become a club legend.


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