Its a big final, the match is poised well at 1-1. With 10 minutes to go to a possible extra time, the coach decides to bring on a substitute to freshen up things. Three minutes in, the substitute scores the winner and there is absolute delirium amongst the fans in the stadium and outside of it. The substitute is hogged by the cameras and his teammates. He isin the limelight finally and probably well on his way into the history books for his contribution. Yes, this isexactlythe life of the Super Sub.Brought on at various stages of the match, the role of the super sub varies from getting the team organised, providing better balance, replacing an injured player but most importantly they are thrown in to save a match. Even better is to win it for their team.Super subs are an integral part of the team and have been used effectively for years now. With very limited chances in the regular team, substitutes play an important role in affecting a match and at times also providing miracles. Remember a certain DietmarHamann who came on as a second half substitute in the 2005 Champions league final and turned around the match without scoring or even assisting! We look at top Super subs in football who have created a name for themselves with their supreme intervention.
#11 Tore Andre Flo - Chelsea
A really tall striker, the Norwegian Flo moved to Chelsea from his native club Brann, on the back of tremendous scoring record of having managed 28 goals in 40 appearances. Known for scoring with his head, he was never able to cement a place in the starting team for the Blues as he had to contend with likes of Gianfranco Zola, Gianluca Vialli and Mark Hughes. He was still able to achieve a cult status at Stamford Bridge by scoring goals while coming off the bench. From a total of 50 goals he scored for Chelsea, 13 of which were scored when he played as a substitute.
#10 Salomon Kalou Chelsea
One of the most underrated and undermined players to grace the Premier League, Kalou helped Chelsea to many titles with his super sub performances. A versatile player who could play in many positions, he would be called on at different situations to bail the team out. Even with his exploits as a substitute he was never able to get chances to start and was always a backup for Juan Mata, Ramires and Fernando Torres. Kalou played as a substitute in 98 games for the Blues in which he scored an impressive 13 goals. He helped the Blues win one Premier League title, four FA Cup trophies and one Champions League trophy.
#9 Lars Ricken Borussia Dortmund
The German midfielder played his entire career in the yellow part of Germany at Borussia Dortmund. Known for his ability to read the game and being skillful yet he was unable to nail down a starting place in the first team. However, he contributed mightily to the success of the yellow brigade with notable performances when he came off the bench. The highlight of his Dortmund career came in the 1997 Champions League final when he scored the all important goal. It was also a unique goal as he scored it just 16 seconds after he entered as a substitute.
#8 Javier Chicharito Hernandez Manchester United
The diminutive Mexican has completely transformed from a raw talent to a goal scoring machine in his time at Old Trafford. He has been a savior for United on many occasions and has scored some decisive goals over the past 4 years. Fondly called as ‘Chicharito’ he has lit up the Premier League with his performances albeit in a super sub role. Always been uncomfortable with the bit part role at United, he still is one of the deadliest weapons to create an impact when regular strikers like Robin Van Persie and Wayne Rooney are misfiring.
#7 Henrik Larsson Barcelona
Known for his goal scoring exploits throughout his career, Larsson put to rest the myth that only players who score goals can earn super sub status. Having reached the 2006 Champions League final, Barcelona needed the Swede’s intervention to overcome a spirited Arsenal side. Even after losing Jens Lehman to a red card, Arsenal took the lead with a Sol Campbell header in the 37th minute.
With the Catalan giants struggling to break down a resilient Arsenal side, Frank Rijkaard brought Larsson off the bench in what would be his final game in a Blaugrana shirt. Larsson first setup Samuel Eto’o with 15 minutes to go and then provided crucial assist for the winner which was converted by Juliano Belletti. Larsson would go down in the history books to be a super sub who impacted the match with key assists
#6 Patrick Kluivert Ajax
One of the talented youngsters from the ‘golden generation’ to come through the Ajax academy, Kluivert cemented his place in the super sub history with a goal in the final that won Ajax the 1995 Champions league. Tall, nimble footed, skillful and ability to finish, Kluivert had all the attributes to become a football legend. He announced his arrival on Europe’s biggest stage during the 1995 final against AC Milan.
Brought on midway through the second half with the score at 0-0, Kluivert had only few minutes to create an impression. Boy, did he do it in style! With game seemingly heading to extra time, Frank Rijkaard found Kluivert inside the penalty area who managed to poke the ball in the corner of the net and win the game for Ajax. His goal ensured the ultimate prize for the ‘Golden generation’ which also included the likes of Edgar Davids, Frank and Ronald de Boer, Marc Overmars, Clarence Seedorf and Edwin van der Sar.
#5 Gnter Netzer Borussia Moenchengladbach
The little known German playmaker was one of the shining lights in his time at Borussia (where he spent 10 years) and then when he sealed a dream move to Real Madrid. He won many trophies at both the clubs but it was not always as a regular starter. Usually a starter in Germany, Netzer ensured legendary status among the Moenchengladbach faithful with an astonishing super sub performance in the 1973 German Cup Final. Just before the final his mother had passed away. Considered to be emotionally unstable and grieving, his coach opted to bench him. With the match being a stalemate and few minutes to go, legend states that he ordered his coach to put him on. Netzer scored the winning goal three minutes after he came off the bench to secure the German cup.
#4 Jermain Defoe Tottenham Hotspur and England
One of the most intriguing players to be on the list, Defoe will not be remembered for his talent, pace and finishing but he will always be remembered for his exploits as a super sub. Never having managed to hold a place in the starting team, he managed to create a reputation with his supreme finishing especially when he came on from the bench. The former West Ham and Portsmouth striker hold the unique record of scoring the most goals in the Premier League, 20, as a substitute. His exploits as a super sub were not restricted only to his club; he was able to replicate it even at the international level. He scored a remarkable 17 goals for England, with seven of them coming as a replacement.
#3 Roger Milla Cameroon
Milla who? A little known Cameroonian by the name of Albert Roger Mooh Miller, a complete unknown entity would go on to cement his place in world history after his feats in the 1990 World cup. Chided for being old to be playing football, the 38 year old emerged as one of the stars in Italy where he scored four goals, each of them as a second half substitute. Having changed his name to Milla to sound more African, he was best known for his celebration of dancing around the corner flag after scoring a goal. His scoring tally included goals against Romania and Colombia which ensured that Cameroon progressed to the quarter finals.
However, he confirmed his tag of a Super sub when he came on and set up two goals in a losing cause against England. He was named to the FIFA 100, a list of the 125 greatest living footballers selected by Pelé in conjunction with FIFA’s centenary celebrations.
#2 David Fairclough Liverpool
Not one of the popular legends in Liverpool history, yet Fairclough was instrumental in the success of the all conquering Reds success in the 70s and 80s. With a bludgeoning strike force in the form of Kevin Keegan, John Toshack, Kenny Dalglish and Ian Rush available at Liverpools disposal, it was always difficult for Fairclough to nail a place in the starting team. Yet, he made a name for himself by coming on as a substitute and scoring regularly. Labeled the Original Super sub, he scored 35 goals in the last half-hour of matches, and 18 of his 55 goals came from the bench. In his first campaign, the Reds were crowned League Champions wherein he managed to score 7 crucial goals in 14 appearances, of which 9 games were as a substitute.
His most famous goal in the red shirt came at Anfield as a substitute in a crucial European Cup quarter final against the French side St Etienne.
#1 Ole Gunnar Solskjr Manchester United
Never has a player had an impact on the fortunes of a team like the “Baby faced assassin”. Probably the greatest Super subs in the history of football, the Norwegian went on to score 28 goals off the bench for the Red Devils with the most decisive one coming in the 1999 Champions League final. Costing a paltry sum of £1.5 million in 1996, Solskjaer spent over a decade at Old Trafford; even then he was never able to hold down a regular place in the starting XI. Instead of sulking and looking for pastures anew, he was ever ready to come on as a substitute and always had an immediate impact on the team’s fortunes. Not blessed with the natural attributes of supreme pace and skill seen in prolific strikers, he had an instinctive and finishing ability that was probably the best in the league.
Solskjær still holds the Premier League record for the most goals scored as a substitute when he bagged four goals coming off the bench against Nottingham Forest in 1999. However, the crowning moment of his career still remains the winning goal he scored in the final which got an unprecedented treble for Manchester United.