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Discover the top 10 best super subs in football today

When the match becomes difficult, coaches often utilize the bench to unleash a player who can make a difference. A superb substitution can change the course of the game and turn the tide. While any player from any position can be substituted to make an impact in that specific role, attackers primarily are the ones managers aim for – hence why the term “super sub” is synonymous with forwards. One might ask, if a player consistently scores whenever coming off the bench, why not start him? Simply put, it’s psychological. Some players appear more dangerous and determined when brought on as substitutes against tired opponents. In this article, will review the top 10 best super subs in football history.

Top 10 best super subs in football history

1. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

A legend of Manchester United, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is undoubtedly the greatest super sub of all time. During his time at Old Trafford, the Norwegian player became famous for his knack for scoring late goals for Sir Alex Ferguson’s team. Dubbed the “Baby-faced Assassin,” Solskjaer scored 126 goals in 366 appearances for Man Utd – with 28 of those coming off the bench.

Best super subs in football: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Best super subs in football: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Moreover, he is renowned for scoring 4 goals as a substitute against Nottingham Forest in 1999 – a Premier League record to this day. Solskjaer’s most memorable super sub moment came in the dying seconds of the 1999 UEFA Champions League final against Bayern Munich – securing the historic treble for the Red Devils.

2. Jermain Defoe

Jermain Defoe has played for 5 different teams in the Premier League and officially holds the record for the most goals scored as a substitute in the league’s history, with 24 goals. Not primarily a bench player, he was the first-choice striker for his team during his peak, but extremely dangerous when brought on.

Football super subs: Jermain Defoe
Football super subs: Jermain Defoe

However, the highlight of Defoe’s career arguably came in an international match for the England national team in 2009, when they faced the Netherlands. In this game, Defoe proved his importance when he came off the bench. He scored two crucial goals, securing a famous victory and a vital draw for the Three Lions. It was truly an impressive performance by Defoe, showcasing not only his individual talent but also his significant contribution to his national team.

3. Olivier Giroud

Olivier Giroud’s impact as a substitute in the Premier League has been nothing short of remarkable, with a tally of 20 goals off the bench, placing him second only to Defoe in the league’s history. His ability to make a significant contribution despite starting on the bench has been evident, particularly during his final days at Arsenal and his tenure at Chelsea, where he predominantly operated as a substitute before his move to AC Milan in 2021. Even at Milan, he continued to excel in this role.

Soccer super sub: Olivier Giroud
Soccer super sub: Olivier Giroud

Giroud’s effectiveness as a super sub stems not only from his knack for finding the back of the net but also from his unique aerial prowess. His ability to dominate in aerial duels has made him a constant threat in the box, resulting in a substantial number of headed goals throughout his career. This aerial superiority, coupled with his astute positional awareness and clinical finishing, has consistently made him a go-to option for managers looking to change the dynamics of a game late on. Whether it’s holding up play, providing a target in the box, or capitalizing on crosses and set-pieces, Giroud’s versatility and impact as a substitute have been pivotal for his teams over the years.

4. David Fairclough

For Liverpool fans – and many others who have followed the game through generations – David Fairclough has carved out a tournament of his own. He is Liverpool’s most famous super sub, scoring 55 goals in 154 appearances for the Reds – 18 of which came from 62 substitute appearances.

Super sub football: David Fairclough
Super sub football: David Fairclough

Fairclough attributes his success in winning matches to his uncanny ability to know where the goal is. He only started 92 games in his 8 years at Liverpool, yet becoming one of the club’s most prolific goal scorers in its illustrious history is beyond dispute.

5. Javier Hernandez “Chicharito”

Javier Hernandez, “Chicharito,” is one of the most dangerous goal scorers when coming off the bench in Premier League history. At Manchester United, he found himself behind the likes of Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov. However, the Mexican player almost always made an impact when summoned from the bench. He’s an exceptional substitute player due to his rapid pace and excellent positional awareness, allowing him to often find scoring positions against weary defenses.

Best super sub in football history: Javier Hernandez "Chicharito"
Best super sub in football history: Javier Hernandez “Chicharito”

In a total of 103 Premier League appearances for Man Utd, Hernandez scored 37 goals and provided 12 impressive assists despite only starting 49 of those games. He later played in Major League Soccer with LA Galaxy and was one of the highest-paid footballers in the MLS.

6. Luis Muriel

More than half of Chicharito’s appearances for the Red Devils came off the bench. In total, he scored 16 goals as a super sub. As a journeyman in his career, Colombian forward Luis Muriel eventually found a home at Serie A side Atalanta – renowned for being a impactful substitute player.

Best super subs in football: Luis Muriel
Best super subs in football: Luis Muriel

In the 2019/20 season, he averaged a goal every 41 minutes when starting from the bench. He scored 11 goals as a substitute for Atalanta that season. Also in that season, Muriel became the top super sub in Europe. Of his 18 goals, 11 came as a substitute. He’s one of the most underrated footballers of his generation. Moreover, the Colombian player became the only substitute player to score more than 10 goals in a season in Serie A history.

7. Peter Crouch

Standing at 6’7, Peter Crouch is an ideal late-game substitute in a tight match. His physical advantage makes him a perfect ‘Plan B’ for managers chasing a result. He often exploits his height against tired defenders, with the towering striker scoring more headed goals than any other player in Premier League history.

Football super subs: Peter Crouch
Football super subs: Peter Crouch

With 143 appearances off the bench, Peter Crouch not only holds an impressive record in Premier League history for the most substitute appearances but also serves as a shining example of his perseverance and relentless contribution in every match. Along the way, he scored 16 crucial goals in those appearances, proving his goal-scoring ability and influence remains undiminished even when coming off the bench.

8. Nwankwo Kanu

Nwankwo Kanu often found himself on the bench due to the presence of Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry leading the line for Arsenal. However, he consistently made an impact when called upon. Nearly half of his appearances came as a substitute, making him one of the most frequently used substitute players in Premier League history – with 118 appearances off the bench for Arsenal, West Brom, and Portsmouth.

Soccer super sub: Nwankwo Kanu
Soccer super sub: Nwankwo Kanu

The former Nigerian international still holds a revered status at the Emirates after a memorable 5-year spell in North London, winning 2 league titles and 2 FA Cups during his trophy-laden tenure. Despite being one of the greatest super subs in club football, Kanu remains a football legend in Africa.

9. Divock Origi

With fierce competition from Robert Firmino, Mohamed Salah, and Sadio Mane, holding a starting position at Liverpool proved challenging for Divock Origi. However, Origi proved himself to be more than just a typical bench player. He shone brightly in crucial matches, especially in high-profile encounters. Origi’s versatility and determination have made him an invaluable option when Liverpool needs a tactical change or a potent attacking force off the bench. This highlights his true value, not just in goal-scoring but also in readiness and adaptability in every match situation.

Super sub football: Divock Origi
Super sub football: Divock Origi

Origi scored a memorable brace in the famous comeback victory against Barcelona in the 2019 UEFA Champions League semi-final, propelling Liverpool to the final. In the final, he scored again, sealing the win against Tottenham Hotspur as Jurgen Klopp’s side lifted the trophy. Moreover, Divock Origi became a Kop favorite by consistently scoring as a super sub against Merseyside rivals Everton.

10. Tore Andre Flo

With a bargain transfer fee of just £300,000, Tore Andre Flo proved his real worth in Chelsea blue. With 50 goals in 163 appearances, Flo was not only an efficient player but also an icon of creativity and decisiveness in attack. His impact was even greater as he often came off the bench and still scored crucial goals. Flo left a mark on Chelsea’s history not only through his on-field efficiency but also through the spirit and loyalty he showed to the club.

Best super subs in football: Tore Andre Flo
Best super subs in football: Tore Andre Flo

Flo was renowned for his ability to come off the bench and spark attacking plays, often scoring crucial goals to secure victories for his team. He also represented Norway in international tournaments such as the FIFA World Cup 1998 and UEFA Euro 2000, scoring 23 goals in 76 appearances for his country.


In the history of football, the role of substitute players is not merely about sitting on the bench and waiting for an opportunity. They are adjusters, capable of changing the course of the game and making a difference in decisive moments. Super subs like them not only deliver crucial goals but also serve as a source of motivation and encouragement for their teammates. Through their goals and significant contributions, they have left a mark in the hearts of fans and played a part in shaping the golden eras of their teams.

See more: Top 10 most aggressive footballers of all time