Goalkeeper is often seen as the most ruthless and difficult position in football – unless you’re third choice, of course.
While first-choice guards steal the show and second-choice stoppers loiter in an emergency, the job of a third-choice option involves something completely different. Namely, fulfilling a club’s local quota and earning a salary large enough to do very little.
Over the years, the sport has seen several goalkeepers emerge as squat specialists rather than spectacular saves. Here, Star Daily Sport takes a closer look at some of those who have carved out forgettable careers as third-choice goalkeepers.
Eyebrows were raised when a 33-year-old Scott Carson joined Manchester City’s moneybags in a first loan deal from Championship side Derby County in 2019. But there was a method behind it madness.
The four-time England international has not only been roped in to cover Ederson and Claudio Bravo, but mainly to fulfill City’s homegrown player quota and free up space for 17 foreigners in the squad’s allocation. Club Premier League. Carson has made just two appearances in his three seasons at the Etihad, including a 20-minute Champions League cameo against Sporting Lisbon in the just-concluded campaign – his first European game in ten -seven years. How condescending.
Who is the greatest third-choice goalkeeper of all time? Let us know in the comments
Despite being tipped to succeed legendary David Seaman as No.1 for Arsenal and England, Taylor would go on to spend most of his career as a third-choice option. Like Carson, his most notable stint without a game came at City.
After being initially signed as a replacement for Shay Given in 2009, Taylor would later slip to third in City’s pecking order, behind Joe Hart and Costel Pantilimon, making just one appearance for the club. Taylor, who has a Premier League winner’s medal to his name from his time at Arsenal, managed just 95 appearances in his 17 years in the game and has since established his own goalkeeping academy. Presumably where he teaches youngsters to heat benches and collect paychecks.
“It’s been a whirlwind 24 hours,” a 38-year-old Green told Chelsea’s official website after joining Thibaut Courtois and Willy Caballero ahead of the 2018-19 season. “You think about your career and where you want to go, then you get a phone call like this – and it’s a short conversation.”
Although the former England No.1 didn’t even make the bench for the 2019 UEFA Europa League final – or any other Chelsea game in his only season with the west London club. Elsewhere – Green mocked himself by wildly celebrating the Blues. European triumph and lifting of the trophy after Chelsea’s 4-1 victory over Arsenal.
“Honestly, it was a surprise,” Alex Manninger revealed after Jurgen Klopp phoned and asked the 39-year-old free agent to join Liverpool in the summer of 2016. Bundesliga Augsburg at the end of the season before, the Austrian sealed a return to the Premier League 15 years after leaving Arsenal.
Manninger found himself behind Loris Karius and Simon Mignolet in his only season at Anfield, which then ended with his retirement announcement. “Of course it’s only natural that I would have liked to play a game…” Manninger said after making a grand total of zero appearances for the Reds.
“It’s understandable that it’s going to be difficult, Petr Cech is one of the best in the world and it’s not going to be easy, but it’s up to me to work and try my luck when it comes,” said audaciously Ross Turnbull after joining Chelsea from Middlesborough in the summer of 2009. Unfortunately for the stopper, his luck wouldn’t quite arrive.
Turnbull, who sat behind Cech and Henrique Hilario in the Blues pecking order, didn’t play a single minute as Chelsea won a Premier League and FA Cup double in his first season at Stamford Bridge. The goalkeeper made just 19 appearances in his four seasons with the west London club, but has Champions League and Europa League success to his name. The less said about his contributions to those triumphs, the better…
After spending his career bouncing back in the lower leagues, Lee Grant got his chance with none other than Manchester United in the summer of 2018. The former England youth international was signed as the Reds’ third-choice keeper Devils. , behind David De Gea and Sergio Romero, at Championship side Stoke – where he wasn’t even first choice.
After making just two appearances for United in his first two seasons at Old Trafford, Grant was given a one-year extension. A hugely impressive zero appearance saw Grant earn another 12-month contract, in which he made – yes, you guessed it – another zero appearance. Grant ended the humiliation by retiring in May 2022.
After six glittering seasons with hometown club Ipswich Town, Arsenal opted for a 23-year-old Richard Wright in the summer of 2001. The stopper soon realized he wasn’t going to oust Seaman between the sticks and promptly left for Everton the following year. – the start of a nomadic career containing very little first-team football.
In 2012, Wright fully accepted his playing days were behind him and embracing a small role as he became another aging keeper to join City’s ranks. The two-time England international stayed with City for four seasons without making a single appearance for the club. He has raked in £350,000 a year though, so he’s unlikely to have any regrets.
Awarded the nickname ‘Tony Bonus’ in honor of his financial gains at Liverpool, Tony Warner remarkably didn’t play a single minute during his five-year stint with the Merseyside club. Still, he was able to watch the Reds from one of the best seats at home, appearing on the bench 120 times.
However, this luxury had to be snatched from him as well. Already behind David James in Liverpool’s order of preference, the arrival of Brad Friedel in 1997 did little to boost the two-time Trinidad and Tobago international’s hopes of stepping onto the pitch.