The third choice goalkeeper is one of the ultimate enigmas of modern day football. Every team has one, every international squad is required to keep a place for one, but many football fans are not even sure why. 

Granted they might play on the off chance that a team faces a 'keeper crisis, but for most third choice goalies, the best case scenario is an extremely occasional place on the substitutes bench. They feature most prominently in preseason team pictures or in aiding the pre-match warm-ups.

Lee Grant

The position is so inane that prior to the 2010 World Cup, North Korea attempted to register Kim Myong-Won, a striker, as their third-choice goalie, but FIFA quickly prohibited the sneaky move.

Despite the extremely limited role, maybe the most limited of any job, in any sport, third choice goalkeeping can be a tremendously lucrative move with Rob Green and Lee Grant receiving bloated wage packets of £20,000 per week at Chelsea and Manchester United respectively.

Robert Green

Most third-choice keepers remain as anonymous as one would expect, swiftly exiting the minds of supporters after their sentence in the stands is complete. However, for the very special few, a career as the back-up's back-up can end with a trophy haul unrivalled by some of the game's greats.

So, for all the forgotten heroes that are third-choice goalkeepers, have a look at 90min's list of the most successful third stringers...

Ross Turnbull - Chelsea (2009-2013)

Initially signed by Chelsea to compete with Henrique Hilario as the distant back-up to Petr Cech, Turnbull went on to have an extraordinarily successful four-year spell at Stamford Bridge, acting as a small part of a squad that won a bevy of trophies.

The Englishman's first season saw at Stamford Bridge ended in a Premier League and FA Cup double for the first time in the club's history. To say that Turnbull played a small part in that success would be an understatement as the former Middlesborough keeper didn't feature in either triumphant competition.

After a quiet 2010/2011 campaign, Turnbull came back in full force to win the Champions League and his second FA Cup in 2012, before departing in 2013 amid a blaze of glory after winning yet another trophy, the Europa League.

Richard Wright - Manchester City (2012-2016)

Now an infamous tale, Richard Wright may have had the easiest job in the history of football while at Manchester City. The twice-capped former England international won the Community Shield, two League Cups, and the Premier League title during his tenure at the Etihad.

Those honours, as well as a beloved reputation, came despite appearing in a grand total of zero matches during four years at City. Now retired, Wright is still on City's books as a coach, punctuating a preposterously successful transfer for everyone involved.

Nick Culkin - Manchester United (1997-2002)

Less of a household name than Wright, Culkin was once thought of as the next great English goalkeeper talent, the heir to Gordon Banks and Peter Shilton, prompting  Manchester United to fork out £100,000 for the talent in 1995 while still a junior at York City.

Nick Culkin,Luis Garcia

Perhaps, Culkin was something of a lucky charm, because his seven year stint in Manchester yielded five Premier League titles, two FA Cups, and a Champions League trophy, including the stunning treble-winning season of 1999. 

Culkin appeared just once for the Red Devils, that in itself a grand occasion as it set the record for the shortest Premier League appearance of all time, with the referee blowing the full-time whistle seconds after the debutant trotted onto the pitch.

Shay Given - Blackburn Rovers (1994-1997)

A player that will certainly be remembered more for his starting exploits, eventually racking up over 450 Premier League appearances, Given arrived in England as a young and unproven keeper at Blackburn.


Led by Alan Shearer, Blackburn embarked on one of the most incredible title winning campaigns of all time, just one year after Given's arrival, although the Irishman was restricted to zero total appearances behind Tim Flowers and Bobby Mimms.

A series of loans followed before Given finally settled at Newcastle, where he would consistently star for over a decade at St. James' Park.

Pepe Reina-  Spain (2005-Present)

Reina could justifiably feel unlucky to see his inclusion on this list, with his club career full of leading roles at some of Europe's biggest clubs including Liverpool, but his international career was a very different story.

Iker Casillas,Pepe Reina

A Champions League winner with the Reds in 2005, Reina's international career coincided with Spain's golden generation that included Real Madrid's Iker Casillas and Barcelona's Victor Valdes as options in goal. 

The insurmountable position of Casillas as starter and captain meant that Valdes and Reina were relegated to spectator roles as La Roja embarked on world domination, winning the 2008 and 2012 European Championships as well as the 2010 World Cup.

Ben Hamer - Leicester City (2014-2018)

Almost every single member of Leicester City's fairytale 2015/2016 Premier League winning squad will be forever immortalised as a legend of Leicester and English football.

Almost. Hamer might be the lone exception.

Ben Hamer

Originally brought in as cover for Kasper Schmeichel, Hamer saw his back-up role usurped by veteran Mark Schwarzer, and a series of unsuccessful loans left the current Huddersfield keeper stuck at the King Power to watch from the stands as Leicester defied all the odds.