In football (or soccer for NA people), I wonder what would you be able to do if the following scenario was to happen:

  1. All 3 player substitutions are used.

  2. The Goalkeeper is made unable to continue the match (knocked out, broke an arm, you decide).

Since you can't change him out, will you have to play the remaining players of the game without a goalkeeper, or can a player pick up the gloves and finish the game as a goalkeeper?


2 Answers 2


According to IFAB Laws of the Game, Law 3 - The Players, 1. Number of players:

A match is played by two teams, each with a maximum of eleven players; one must be the goalkeeper.

And 4. Changing the goalkeeper:

Any of the players may change places with the goalkeeper if:

  • the referee is informed before the change is made
  • the change is made during a stoppage in play

Therefore, if a goalkeeper is sent off with a red card or can't continue to play because of injury after all substitutions are made, one of the outfield players must take over his position. The total number of players will be reduced to 10 from 11.

  • I guess the player that goes to be goaltender gets a minute to put the shirt and gloves on too.
    – Fredy31
    Commented Aug 18, 2016 at 18:53
  • 3
    @Fredy31 That's why the change should be made during a stoppage. The rule clearly states so.
    – user10632
    Commented Aug 18, 2016 at 19:05
  • 5
    Relevant: youtube.com/watch?v=79NLmSokD2I (Defender John O'Shea taking over as keeper, video shows him putting the gloves and jersey on) youtube.com/watch?v=Hbtgt6amNM0 (Center back Rio Ferdinand playing keeper)
    – Jay
    Commented Aug 18, 2016 at 19:08
  • 2
    More on the same theme - youtube.com/watch?v=x8XiUBB0cp4. Note that there's no rule compelling a goalkeeper to hang back near the goal (except on a penalty kick), so the outfielder can continue to play in his previous position. But he does have to dress in a different colour from his teammates. Commented Aug 19, 2016 at 3:37

Any player can play in goal provided he or she wears a distinguishing jersey.

And this used regulary to happen in the days before substitutes were allowed. Even when a player was injured no substitute could be brought on, prior to about 1966. Indeed I believe when England won the World Cup in 1966, substitutes were still not allowed.

Where a goalkeeper had to go off, an outfield player would take over the gloves and jersey and go in goal.

Sometimes a goalkeeper, where only slightly injured, would go on to play as an outfielder as a makeweight, while someone else took over the goal.That happened in the 1957 English cup final.

The Manchester United goalkeeper, Ray Wood, had his jaw broken in the sixth minute. He had to come out of goal, but came back on as a winger. The following is taken from Wood's obituary in The Guardian newspaper of 9 July 2002:

In that 1957 Cup Final, United faced Aston Villa, and were strong favourites. They would surely have won had Wood not been so severely fouled. Today, a substitute goalkeeper could have come on, but there were no permitted substitutes in those days, and Wood eventually returned to the field with his arm strapped up, to limp along the left wing. The game was only six minutes old when Peter McParland, Villa's outside-left, closed in to meet a cross from the right with his head, some 12 yards out. Wood caught the ball without difficulty and, in normal circumstances, would simply have cleared it upfield or thrown it to a colleague. McParland, however, came hurtling at him, failed to make contact, turned back, and crashed into the unfortunate Wood, who collapsed in agony, his jaw bone broken. Jackie Blanchflower went in goal, but Villa won 2-1.

  • Can you explain what exactly "yes" is responding to? And what relevance the laws 50 years ago would have on the decision made today?
    – Nij
    Commented Dec 4, 2022 at 9:16
  • @Nij Because the laws in this regard haven't changed.
    – WS2
    Commented Dec 4, 2022 at 9:19
  • You could demonstrate that by quoting them, but then there is nothing further beyond the existing answers to be gained.
    – Nij
    Commented Dec 4, 2022 at 9:22
  • My interest is in answers to questions - nothing more or less. If you intend to help with that, please edit your post to do so. If you would like to write an answer for a question about the history of substitution, that would belong elsewhere.
    – Nij
    Commented Dec 4, 2022 at 9:31

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