In the days before football in Europe became a far bigger commercial operation, squads of most clubs were not that big so 12-14 players did the job for most clubs throughout the season and across competitions.
As the number of substitutions that could be allowed in a single game was raised to three from 1, the squads got bigger as clubs needed players who could come in and change the game. This was how the 'squad player' became an important part of most of the major clubs in Europe.
They do not start many games throughout the course of the season but are instead used as substitutes when the games need to be changed or are added to the first eleven if a first choice player is unavailable.
Naturally, bigger clubs with bigger budgets have a better quality of squad players and over the years, many of these players have proven to be an extremely important part of successful campaigns in the league or in Europe. Here is a look at 5 of the best ever squad players.
#5 Martin Keown (Arsenal 2003-04)
The former Arsenal central defender will go down in history as one of the best players in his position to have ever played in the Premier League and his second stint at the North London Club (1993-2004) was a particularly productive one.
That being said, Martin Keown was at the end of his career when Arsenal had their best season in their history till date, in 2003-04, when they went through the season unbeaten.
He was already 37 years old and was no longer a regular centre-back. Sol Campbell and Kolo Toure were the first choice center-backs on that side. However, his role as a squad player on that side is highly underrated and when either of the first choice defenders found themselves unavailable, Keown stepped in.
In total, he played in 10 of those league games and perhaps the most famous one was the game at Old Trafford in September of 2003 when Keown not only played well but became a part of Arsenal folklore by manhandling United forward Ruud Van Nistelrooy at the end of the game.