It’s late in the game and you’re a goal down. Your team are looking spent and all out of ideas.
Who are you going to call?

Reliable game-changers off the bench, these five should have worn capes such was their superpower. 

Edin Dzeko 

With 59 goals from 117 starts, the burly Bosnian was pretty prolific when played from the get-go for Manchester City. Brought on late in contests to bully tired defenders however, he really came into his own.

Thirteen goals as a sub for the Blues is a thoroughly respectable number but what elevates Dzeko to this list is one of them in particular. It was a header that changed the course of history no less. 

On the final day of the 2011/12 season, City were famously two down at home to QPR with just injury time to play. A title that was assumed to be theirs was all-but-gone from their grasp.

It was Dzeko who rose to thump home a critical equaliser, paving the way for Sergio Aguero to rock the footballing world off its axis. 

Nwankwo Kanu

Only five Premier League players boast better goals-per-minute ratios as a sub, three of whom are name-checked below, the others being Daniel Sturridge and Javier Hernandez.

Yet the 6ft 6 Nigerian gets in ahead of the former Liverpool and Manchester United strikers here by virtue of what he represented, as much as the goals he scored in cameo form.

When the clock is running down and your team are trailing, there are two distinct types of player you really want to see vigorously warming up on the touchline. 

Naturally, you want a clinical finisher. That’s goes without saying.

But we are also in need of hope and inspiration, of a player who can find left-field solutions on the pitch. Kanu was all of these things in equal measure.

Ole Gunner Solskjaer 

Arguably the most famous super sub of them all, and unquestionably one of the best Premier League strikers of them all too, Solskjaer fired 17 goals from the bench for Manchester United, the easiest of which - from just three yards out - broke Bayern hearts in Barcelona.

That incredible, and incredibly late, Champions League final winner in 1999 will forever hold a special place in football’s firmament but let’s not forget either that the Baby Faced Assassin once also bagged four as a sub away at Nottingham Forest.

After dealing with Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole for 75 minutes, centre-backs would visibly flag at seeing the arch poacher having his studs checked by the fourth official.  

Olivier Giroud 

The French forward may have railed against the term, and it may have come late in his career, but Giroud is fated to be remembered as a deadly practitioner of scoring from the bench, a craft he perfected at Arsenal during the latter years of Arsene Wenger’s reign.

Time and again, Alexis Sanchez would run into channels to little effect, or Alexandre Lacazette would flatter to deceive, and on would bound their handsome, Gallic team-mate to show them how it’s done.

“I prefer to be on the pitch,” he once complained when someone dared utter ‘super sub’ within earshot. Embrace it Oliver. It’s a talent to be proud of.  

Jermain Defoe 

Across two decades, and for a multitude of different clubs, Defoe notched 162 top-flight goals, a towering tally topped by only eight other strikers. 

Routinely, on an almost weekly basis, the England star would have a direct impact on his side’s Premier League odds via a close-range finish, or an angled drive buried into the bottom corner. It was almost taken for granted.

It doesn’t surprise therefore, to learn that no other player has ever scored more often (24) as a substitute.

Whether in the starting line-up or waiting to pounce in the dug-out, Defoe was lethal.

By Ste Tudor

*Credit for the photos in this article belongs to AP Photo*

Ste is a sports expert, writing for a range of national and international media publications.

In addition, Ste produces content for 888sport and has interviewed some leading figures in the world of football, including Ian Rush, Jaap Stam and Teddy Sheringham.