Substitution in Football


The substitution in the football had a several history and stories behind it. The substitution had started way back in 1860 as part of English public school football games. Yes the English had started it. The original substitutes’ is only used to replace a player that does not turn up to a matches. On this method the first substitute happen in an international game in 13 April 1889 between Wales and Scotland. The Wales goalkeeper does not turn up to the matches and was replaced by the local amateur player Alf Pugh started the match to replace the goalkeeper and played for 20 minutes until the arrival of Saml Gillion whom had replaced him instead.

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Even though the English had started the substitution, it took them until 1965 – 66 seasons in English League to implement the substitution in the English League. They only allowed one substitutions and that is also to replace an injured players. The first substitution that was made is Keith Peacock of Charlton Athletic to replace the injured goalkeeper Mike Rose and the first substitute to score a goal is Bobby Knox for Barrow against Wrexham. The English FA had allowed the substitution to be made for a tactical reason starting from 1967-68 seasons.

The number of player in the substitute’s bench had been increased to five in 1996 and currently it had been increased to 7 in 2008-2009 where in the international football tournaments the maximum player is 11 that include 1 or 2 goalkeepers. In the international friendlies where previously they are no limit to the substitutions as manager can replace as many as they likes. Nobody had done this like Sven Goran Ericksson where he had become the England manager. He had made eleven substitutions in the second half of the international friendly games that led to changes of team in second half and due to this FIFA had decided to limit the substitution in an international friendly game to 6 players only.

As for now, the maximum substitutes that can be used is 3 for international football in any tournament except for international friendly games. Due to substitution introduction manager had several reasons to make a substitution in a game.


If a team leading and want to protect the lead, the manager may replace his attacking player with a defensive minded player to protect the lead. Vice versa if the manager on the verge of losing a games then he will replace his defender with an attack minded players such forward, striker or an attacking midfielder to win the games.

Replacing injured or suspender players.

A manager can make a substitution to replace an injured player whom unable to continues or a player whom had been sent off due to a red card. If the manager needs to replace a player that had been sent off due to red card he need to make a substitution to balance his team that had lose 1 player. If a goalkeeper had been sent off then an outfield player must be replaced to make way for the replacement goalkeeper. For example, in 2006 UEFA Champion League final against Barcelona, Arsenal’s Jens Lehman was sent off due to a foul on Samuel Eto’o . Arsene Wenger needs to replace Robert Pires a midfielder to make way for the replacement goalkeeper for Arsenal.

Time Wasting.

Another famous tactics that used by the managers is to make substitution in an injury time or late in the normal times. This is due to stop the opponent momentum and at the sometime wasting some extra times while making the substitution. This will be made by the team whom is leading the games.

They are several managers whom also like to make their best players or their star players in the substitute’s bench to show the player that who is the boss. Example Arrigo Sacchi had did it when he had benched Marco Van Basten while  he in charge of AC Milan team and Sir Alex Ferguson had famously did it with several of his player such David Beckham, Ruud Van Nistelrooy and lately Wayne Rooney. This is further proof on the manager authorities to the players and to the team that led to another message that say it is my way or the highways.

Like the tactical changes, substituting a player can lead to great results or disastrous failures. Louis Van Gaal replacing his goalkeeper in the late stage of the extra time in World Cup 2014 quarter final against Costa Rica when the game is heading to a penalty shootout. The end results Netherlands had won the penalty shootout and through to the semifinal. This is the Netherlands first win in the penalty shootout at the World Cup as they had a dismal record in the shootout. Sir Alex Ferguson had did it in 1999 UEFA Champion League against Bayern Munich when his team is trailing 1-0 he substituted Dwight Yorke for Ole Gunnar Solksjaers and Jesper Blomsqvist for Teddy Sherringham that lead the 2 substitutes to score 2 goals in 3 minutes injury time to win the Champion League that years.

Ferguson winning the 1999 UEFA Champion League and completing his treble.

Another manager whom had achieve a great results when making a substitutes is Rafa Benitez in 2005 UEFA Champion League final against AC Milan where Liverpool making the famous comeback to win the 2005 UEFA Champion League. In the first half Liverpool trailing 3-0 to AC Milan with their best players Kaka run ragged on the Liverpool defense. In the second half Rafa Benitez had replaced Harry Kewell with Dietmar Haman to control Kaka and Liverpool had equalized to 3-3 and won the UEFA Champion League in the penalty shootout. Jose Mourinho had also had made an excellent substitutes to changes the games as had introduced Luka Modric in the second round of UEFA Champion League in 2013 when Nani of Manchester United had been sent off. These had led to Real Madrid scoring 2 goals and knocking out Manchester United in the second round where before Nani’s sending off Manchester United had controlled the games and was leading 1-0.

On the other side a substitute’s can also led to disastrous results. In the 2006 World Cup Quarter Final against the German , Argentina had controlled the games through the playmaker Juan Roman Riquelme and leading them 1-0 in the German own backyard until Jose Nestor Pekerman the Argentina manager decided to defend the lead and replaced him. The results had backfired spectacularly when German had equalized and won the games in the penalty shootout. Pekerman had resigned from the position after the games. Similarly in 1970 quarter final against West Germany Sir Alf Ramsey England team is leading the German 2-0 until Sir Alf Ramsey decided to replaced Sir Bobby Charlton for the tactical reason and led to England collapsed on that games. German scores 2 goals to equalize to drag the game to the extra time and scoring the winning goal through Gerd Muller to knock out England from the World Cup quarter final.

Riquelme is the best player for Argentine team of 2006.

Steve Mclaren run with the Middlesbhrough in 2005-2006 seasons to the UEFA Cup final was eventful until his team was outclassed totally by Sevilla in the final. Where in the first half Sevilla was leading 1-0 Steve Mclaren had decided to replace his 2 defender with an attacking player early in the second half that had been backfired when Sevilla had scored in quick succession to make the game 4-0.

The substitution will be used by the managers in any important as a trump card for them that may lead to a great results or a major setback. A manager whom had make a brilliant substitution will be hailed as great manager and the manager whom had made a bad substitution will be cursed, sympathized and nullified by the press, and the club supporters.

At the end of the substitutes that had started in 1860 can be used to decide the manager fates in the games and increase or shattered their legacy forever.



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