Being an ageing goalkeeper is tough. If you lose your place in the team, you very rarely get it back, which means your career can often peter out without anyone even noticing.
However, there are plenty of goalkeepers who have refused to lie down as they near retirement and end up sealing a shock move to some huge clubs, even if it is just to make up the numbers in training.
Here are seven goalkeepers who somehow managed to land a massive transfer towards the end of their career.
Scott Carson to Manchester City
Manchester City are the defending Premier League champions, so their squad is full of some of the world’s finest players – and now they all get to play alongside 33-year-old Scott Carson.
Carson picked up four caps for England between 2007 and 2011, but he is now entering the twilight of his career and has been playing his football in the Championship for the likes of Wigan Athletic and Derby County. So, to get a promotion to arguably the pinnacle of English football is certainly a big step up.
He’s not going to play during his season-long loan, we all know that. He’s just there to make up the numbers, but fair play to him. He now has a chance to add plenty of silverware to his trophy cabinet, and this year will certainly be a memorable one for Carson.
Rob Green to Chelsea
In the summer of 2018, Rob Green was released by Huddersfield Town after failing to make a single appearance for the struggling Terriers. Just months later, he landed himself a surprise move to Chelsea.
He didn’t even make the bench at all during his season at Stamford Bridge, but ended the year by lifting the Europa League in front of the world. Just two days later, he announced his retirement. Not a bad way to end your career.
The move to Chelsea caught everyone off guard, just as it would have done ten years ago when he was still in his prime. Ah, the fun of being a third-choice goalkeeper.
Andy Goram to Manchester United
With Fabien Barthez and Raimond van der Gouw both recovering from injury in 2001, Manchester United found themselves in a bit of a mess. To help address their concerns, the Red Devils turned to Motherwell goalkeeper Andy Goram.
Goram made his name playing in Scotland with Rangers during the 1990s, but saw his career coming to a close as he struggled to break into the starting lineup at both Notts County and Sheffield United. So, a move to United came as a bit of a surprise.
He actually made two appearances for the club, so he fared better than most on this list, but Goram’s time at United wasn’t exactly memorable.
Richard Wright to Manchester City
After leaving boyhood club Ipswich Town in 2001, Richard Wright’s career slowly began to fade into obscurity. After failing to make an impact with Sheffield United and Preston North End, the veteran goalkeeper was surprisingly picked up by money-bags Manchester City in 2012.
He managed four seasons with the Citizens, earning several contract extensions despite never actually playing a first-team game for the club. He had a stable income, got to play football with some of Europe’s finest and even got to celebrate winning a number of different trophies.
The move even landed him a job as a coach at the Etihad Stadium following his retirement in 2016, so everything worked out pretty well for Wright.
Alex Manninger to Liverpool
Throughout his entire career, Alex Manninger never really enjoyed an extended spell as a first-choice goalkeeper. He had jetted around Europe, operating as a reserve shot-stopper everywhere he went, before being released by Augsburg in 2016.
With the 39-year-old struggling for match fitness, he was invited to train with Liverpool that summer, and somehow managed to earn himself a contract with the Reds to operate – you guessed it – as a reserve goalkeeper.
He failed to make a single appearance during his time at the club, before waltzing into retirement the following summer.
Andy Lonergan to Liverpool
Unlike Manninger, Andy Lonergan actually enjoyed a number of years as a first-choice goalkeeper, turning out for the likes of Preston, Leeds United and Bolton Wanderers. He was a good Championship goalkeeper, but eventually found himself failing to see any minutes in the second tier.
Like they did with Manninger a few years before, Liverpool invited Lonergan to join their pre-season this summer to help give them some more options, and he actually managed to earn himself a short-term contract at Anfield following injuries to Alisson and Caoimhin Kelleher.
It’s little more than a backup plan for Liverpool, but that’s beside the point. Lonergan is a Liverpool goalkeeper, and you can’t take that away from him.
Lee Grant to Manchester United
Arguably one of the more justified signings on this list, Lee Grant starred for Premier League side Stoke City during the 2016/17 season, so it was clear that he could still perform at a high level.
When the Potters were relegated in 2018, Grant sealed a move to Manchester United to operate as their third-choice goalkeeper behind David de Gea and Sergio Romero. Unlike the rest of those on this list, Grant actually had some recent top-flight experience, so it was actually a smart signing from the Red Devils.
However, there is a big difference between being a Stoke goalkeeper and being a United goalkeeper. Fortunately, as third-choice options go, they don’t come much better than Grant.