Legendary Football Substitutions


Posted: August 17, 2020

Updated: August 17, 2020

  • Substitutes can decide a game with a late goal or big saves
  • Gotze scored the winner of the 2014 World Cup as a substitute
  • Bale came on in the second half and scored 2 goals in the 2018 CL final

Sometimes a great substitution can change the game and even turn around the result. Some strikers could score a goal or give a great pass at the end of the matches. While an emergency goalkeeper could produce amazing saves and help his team to victory. Surely everyone can remember Manchester United’s late goals scored by super-subs Sheringham and Solksjaer, but you can also find other legendary football substitutions in our list. 

Paris Saint-Germain substitute Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting scored the winner in the 93rd minute of the Atalanta vs PSG Champions League quarter-final. It was a brilliant attack involving Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, but they needed the substitute to finish it with a score. He proved to be a super-sub just like the following players in the list. Usually we think about second-level players on the bench but sometimes even the biggest stars can be substitutions due to an injury, lack of form or tactical reasons. But if they come off the bench they can all have a great impact on the game and decide the result. 

List of the legendary football substitutions

7. Oliver Bierhoff and the first golden goal

In the 1996 European Championships final Germany was playing against the Czech Republic. They were 1-0 down when the German manager Berti Vogts decided to take Mehmet Scholl off from the midfield. And he sent in Oliver Bierhoff as a third forward. Bierhoff was a young, less-known player of Udinese at that time, but managed to decide the game. In three minutes he scored the equaliser and in the extra time he scored the first-ever golden ball in football’s history. He became a regular player of the national team and the captain after the retirement of Jurgen Klinsmann. 

legendary football substitutions
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6. Robert Lewandowski’s amazing performance

Robert Lewandowksi is one of the greatest strikers at the moment but there have been games when even he was left out from the starting 11.  Like in a Bundesliga game of Bayern Munich vs Wolfsburg in 2015. As Bayern were 1-0 down Pep Guardiola, who was the manager of the team that time, sent Lewandowski on in the second half. But probably even he didn’t expect what came next. The Polish genius scored 5 goals in just 8 minutes 59 seconds setting up several world records. Like the record of the most goals scored by a substitute in the Bundesliga and the fastest Bundesliga hat-trick. Lewandowski can continue his great performance in the Champions League final in Portugal. Online gambling sites in Germany are predicting him to be the top goalscorer. 

5. Iker Casillas in the 2002 CL final

Not just strikers, but goalkeepers can also have a huge impact on a game. Like it happened with Iker Casillas who was called from the bench in the 68th minute of the 2002 Champions League final. He had to replace the No1 goalkeeper, Cesar Sanchez who got injured. Casillas produced some great saves and denied Bayer Leverkusen’s top players like Michael Ballack and Dimita Berbatov from scoring. Real won 2-1 with Zidane’s stunning goal but they also needed Casillas’ saves to get the trophy. He was only 21 at that time with plenty of further highs and lows in front of him. But this performance definitely helped him back to the starting line. 

4.  Eder won Euro 2016 for Portugal

Another substitute who decided the winner of the European Championship was Portuguese Eder, who played in the Euro 2016 final. He caused one of the biggest surprises of the tournament. He scored the winner in the 109th minute of the final against the host country and top favourie France. From all the big starts in the team including of course Cristiano Ronaldo, Eder became the hero. In spite of not scoring any goal in the whole season for his club, Swansea. And he didn’t start any game in the tournament either, only coming in three times as a substitute. But he timed his only goal perfectly which was by the way a really powerful shot from 25 yards. 

3. Gotze’s winning goal in the 2014 World Cup final

Ex-Borussia Dortmund player Mario Gotze might not be in great form this season but he has already scored the most important goal of his carrer. The winner of the 2014 World Cup final against Argentina. The young playmaker was a huge talent and was said to be the German Messi. In the World Cup even though he started in the group games, he was on the bench for the rest of the tournament. But in the final the German manager, Joachim Low sent him on. He also asked him to show that he is better than Messi. Well, in that game Gotze was the better player. After he became the first substitute to score a World Cup winning goal. Online sportsbooks in Germany are hoping for similar success in the next 2022 World Cup, though Brazil and France are the favourites. 

legendary football substitutions
Game on! – Image via Pixabay

2. Gareth Bale won the 2018 CL final for Real Madrid

Gareth Bale’s winning performance is also in the legendary football substitutions. The Welsh star joined Real Madrid in 2013 for a then-world record transfer fee. But his life at the Blancos has not been perfect even though he scored important goals on several occasions. He was only a substitute again in the 2018 Champions League final against Liverpool. He came in for Isco in the 61st minute and scored his first goal two minutes later. It was a very spectacular bicycle kick showcasing all his skills. Then Bale scored another goal in the 83rd minute and decided the game. Strangely even this performance wasn’t enough to make him a regular starter, as he only appeared in 20 games this season. 

1. Sheringham + Solksjaer decided the 1999 Champions League final

The best substitution(s) though in all time should be the substitution of the Manchester United players Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solksjaer. Both strikers were regularly starting on the bench. As the starting places of the Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke pair were secure. This was the case in the 1999 Champions League final against Bayern Munich, where the Germans were leading 1-0 until the 90th minute. But then came the two super-subs, and first Sheringham scored an equaliser. Then after another Bechkam corner came Solskjaer and shot the winning goal in the 93rd minute. It was a miracle for United fans and a disaster for the Germans who can still remember it. 

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