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Five of the greatest ‘Super Subs’ in Premier League history

Left out of the starting side the role of a substitute is often an unwanted one within football, but many players have developed a reputation throughout the years of influencing games when coming off the bench. 

English football waved goodbye to one of the most successful plan B options the division has seen this week, with Olivier Giroud signing for AC Milan following ‘super sub’ spells at both Arsenal and Chelsea.


The Premier League has played host to some truly memorable ‘super subs’ in its history and we’ve decided to celebrate some of the very best members of the back-up brigade

Here are five of the best ‘super subs’ in Premier League history:

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

The original super sub when it comes Premier League poachers, Solskjaer developed a handy knack of scoring off the bench during a decade spent at Manchester United.

The Norwegian established himself as an important member of Sir Alex Ferguson’s all-conquering side, despite spending large periods of his United career sat alongside the Scot in the dug-out.

However, Solskjaer would use his time on the bench wisely and reportedly took notes on how opposition defences lined up, which enabled him make an impact when introduced by scoring several important late goals.

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Solskjaer made over 235 Premier League appearances for the Red Devils between 1996 and 2007, though over a third of those came from the substitutes’ bench. He scored 17 times after being introduced, including a memorable four-goal haul after coming on in the 71st minute against Nottingham Forest in 1999.

His most iconic introduction came later that year, however, coming off the bench to score a stoppage-time winner against Bayern Munich as United won the Champions League and completed a historic treble-winning season.


The former Nigeria international retains cult status at Arsenal following a memorable five-year spell in north London, winning two league titles and two FA Cups during a trophy-laden period under Arsene Wenger.

Regarded as one of Africa’s greatest ever players, Kanu largely found himself as a back-up option despite his talents with Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp preferred as the Gunners’ first-choice forward options.

Kane scored 30 league goals in Arsenal colours despite almost half of his appearances being from the bench, the forward amongst the most used substitutes in Premier League history – racking up 118 cameos appearances over spells at Arsenal, West Brom and Portsmouth.

Scorer of 17 Premier League goals as a substitute, only three players in the division have managed more.

Read – Five of the best African players in Premier League history

Peter Crouch

The towering forward has scored more headed goals than any other player in Premier League history, his evident physical advantages marking him out as a perfect ‘Plan B’ option for top-flight managers.

Crouch trails only James Milner as the second most substituted on player in the history of the Premier League, proving himself as a more than useful weapon when coming off the bench with 16 goals after being introduced.

In truth, Crouch’s height was perhaps both a help and hindrance, making him a popular and useful option for a succession of managers at several clubs but often meaning he was left out from the start for more mobile forwards.

Crouch, however, proved his worth on countless occasions, scoring 108 Premier League goals throughout a career that included spells at the likes of Aston Villa, Liverpool and Stoke.

Jermain Defoe

The most effective substitute in Premier League history, Defoe’s 24 goals when coming off the bench hand him the title as the division’s most prolific ‘Super Sub’.

Only six players in the division’s history have ever scored more goals in total than the former West Ham and Tottenham forward, who has hit 162 Premier League goals over a career taking in spells at five top-flight clubs.

Defoe’s tally of 24 substitute goals has been scored in 149 appearances off the bench, with only the aforementioned Milner and Crouch being introduced more often throughout Premier League history.

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Olivier Giroud

Despite an impressive goalscoring record during his time in English football, Giroud largely struggled to command an automatic starting position during spells at London rivals Arsenal and Chelsea.

The Frenchman signed for the Gunners from Montpellier in 2012 and scored 105 goals in all competitions over a five-and-a-half-year period, including 73 Premier League goals in just 119 starts for the north London side.


Having moved across the capital in January 2018, Giroud’s prospects of regular first-team football failed to improve, with 42 of his 75 league appearances for Chelsea coming off the bench.

Those statistics have done little to damage his goal threat however, Giroud leaving the Premier League this summer with 20 goals scored as a substitute – the second-highest tally in the division’s history behind only Defoe.

Read – Five of the most iconic goal celebrations in Premier League history: Cantona, Klinsmann, Fowler

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