Who was the first goalkeeper to come up for a corner in football?

<span>Photograph: Gary M Prior/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Gary M Prior/Getty Images

“The phenomenon of keepers desperately going up for a corner in the final moments of a game is one of the most exciting things about football. But when did it start? Were amateur-era keepers doing this? Or did Peter Schmeichel invent it at Euro 96?” wonders Damian Kerr.

Ivan Provedel’s accomplished header for Lazio against Atlético Madrid last week was the latest example of a keeper stealing the show at the end of a game. But pinning down the origin is tricky: it’s not in Rothmans, there are no catch-all search terms you can use in the newspaper archives. We know that goalkeepers have been scoring goals since Moses wore short pants, but the likes of Charlie Williams (1900), Pat Jennings and Peter Shilton (both 1967) all did so by accident from goal-kicks.

The miracle of Jimmy Glass occurred in 1999, and the sight of a fella in a padded shirt sprinting over the halfway line started to become commonplace in the early-2000s. Before that, there were a handful of mavericks who thought outside the box – a long way outside the box – when their teams were in trouble.

On 12 May 1996, on two different continents, a couple of goalkeepers headed memorable equalisers: Mogens Krogh for Brøndby in a potential Danish title decider away to AGF and Carlos Bossio for Estudiantes against Racing Club in Argentina. Bossio’s mighty header is well worth a look. Krogh’s goal was less spectacular but more significant: it kept Brøndby a point clear of AGF, and they eventually won the title by the same margin.

Nancy’s Gregory Wimbée scored against Lens in Ligue 1 in November 1996, though that wasn’t the first example in one of Europe’s big five leagues. “In Serie A, the first goalkeeper to score in open play was Cremonese’s Michelangelo Rampulla,” writes Marcello Barisonzi. “On 23 February 1992, during a relegation battle at Atalanta, Rampulla scored a last-minute header to earn a 1-1 draw. Alas, Cremonese were relegated at the end of the season.”

Two seasons earlier, a little-known German goalkeeper made his name with a spectacular if slightly arthritic volley. “In September 1989, Gerald Hillringhaus scored the equaliser for Türk Gücü Munich against MTV Ingolstadt in the German third tier,” writes Florian Camphausen “As the goal was quite artistic, especially for a goalkeeper, it was voted Germany’s goal of the month.”

We’re fairly sure Peter Schmeichel was the first goalkeeper to regularly come up for corners in England. He was certainly the first to score in the Premier League era, for Aston Villa at Everton in October 2001; he also scored for Manchester United against Rotor Volgograd in the 1995-96 Uefa Cup. On both occasions Schmeichel’s team needed two goals, so his contribution – though memorable – was ultimately futile.

He was slightly more successful in Barcelona on 26 May 1999, when his last act as a Manchester United player was to ensure Bayern Munich’s Thomas Linke couldn’t get a clean defensive header at the end of the Champions League final. You know the rest.

The first time we can recall Schmeichel going upfield for Manchester United was in the 88th minute against Blackburn Rovers on Boxing Day 1993, halfway through his third season at Old Trafford. Schmeichel challenged for the ball with Colin Hendry, who ended up on the floor, and Paul Ince scored an equaliser that proved increasingly vital when Blackburn hunted United down in the second half of the season.

Before that, Schmeichel scored a number of goals in Danish football. Most were penalties, but he often went up for corners and scored a vital goal in his first year as a senior player. On 18 September 1982, Gladsaxe-Hero were 2-1 down to the bottom club Hørsholm-Usserød IK when Schmeichel, a fearless 18-year-old, headed a late equaliser. A few weeks later, Gladsaxe-Hero avoided relegation by – yep – a point.

The goalkeeper he scored against, Michael Borg Jorgensen, later worked for Patrick and gave Schmeichel his first sponsorship deal. (Schmeichel also starred in the game that kept Gladsaxe-Hero up. On the last day of the season they visited Stubbekøp, knowing that one of the teams would be relegated. Hero, a point behind, needed to win. Schmeichel wrote his own script: after making a series of crucial stops earlier in the game, Schmeichel saved a penalty and hurled the ball straight upfield to Claus Jensen, who scored the winning goal.)

As you’d expect with such a risky tactic, it didn’t always come off. Schmeichel pulled his hamstring when he went up for a corner against title rivals Arsenal in 1997-98 and missed a Champions League quarter-final defeat to Monaco four days later. And at Euro 96, he was memorably chipped by Davor Suker after going up for a corner when Denmark were 2-0 down against Croatia.

Three years before Schmeichel scored for Gladsaxe-Hero, his father’s hero helped make a goal in Belgium. Schmeichel’s dad Tolek was Polish and a big fan of Jan Tomaszewski, the unorthodox goalkeeper dismissed as a “clown” by Brian Clough when he stopped England qualifying for the 1974 World Cup.

On 13 October 1979, Germinal Beerschot were 1-0 down at home to RWB Molenbeek when they won a corner with a couple of minutes remaining. Tomaszewski – who had scored a penalty for ŁKS Łódź six years earlier – decided it was time to expand his portfolio. He charged down the other end of the field, prompting players on both sides to do a double take. When his Polish teammate Stanislaw Gzil asked Tomaszewski what he was doing up there, he gave a one-word reply: “Confusion.”

He wasn’t wrong. Two defenders challenged Tomaszewski for the corner and the ball fell to Emmanuel Sanon, who scored the equaliser – at which point all the Beerschot players ran to Tomaszewski rather than Sanon. The result maintained their proud unbeaten start to the league season, though that soon went to seed and they eventually finished 14th out of 18. After that, whenever a goalkeeper went forward in Belgian football, it was described as an “exit a la Tomek”.

In his autobiography, Schmeichel says Tomaszewski was one of his favourite goalkeepers when he was growing up, though there’s no mention of him being inspired by that assist for Germinal Beerschot. It’s unlikely the Belgian league was a big deal on Danish TV in 1979. But Tomaszewski’s goal was shown on Rai in Italy that weekend, so it’s not entirely beyond the realms.

Either way, Tomaszewski is the earliest example we can find of a keeper going up for a corner. Sadly there is no record of anybody showing the video to Brian Clough.

With huge thanks to Jonathan Northcroft, who worked on Peter Schmeichel’s autobiography, One, Jimmie Thomsen of and Pino Frisoli of Rai.

The most consecutive score draws

“Which top-flight side holds the record for successive score draws?” asks John McDougall. “It must be frustrating for fans to continually find the net but cough up points every damn time!”

We all know the story of Alex Ferguson’s fraught start to life at Manchester United, particularly the bleak winter of 1989-90 when he felt “like a criminal” and everyone expected him to be sacked. A year earlier, Ferguson’s team managed five successive score draws in the league – and it would have been eight but for a late winner by Norwich’s Andy Townsend at Old Trafford. To compound Ferguson’s frustration, United led in all eight games apart from Derby away. They found a creative solution to the problem of giving away a lead: their next game was a goalless draw at Newcastle.

The best we can find in the English top flight is seven consecutive score draws by the Norwich City team that charmed (almost) everyone at the start of the Premier League era. In January 1994, when Mike Walker left to take over at Everton, his replacement John Deehan started with a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge. There was an FA Cup defeat soon after, but in the league the score draws kept coming.

  • Chelsea (H) 1-1

  • West Ham (A) 3-3

  • Liverpool (H) 2-2

  • Arsenal (H) 1-1

  • Swindon Town (A) 3-3

  • Blackburn Rovers (H) 2-2

  • Sheffield Wednesday (H) 1-1

Wimbledon spoiled the party, bulldozing Norwich 3-1 at the start of March.

Knowledge archive

“As I type, the full-time whistle has just blown at Villa Park where Liverpool have scored six goals, all by different players, which seems unusual to me. So, what is the most goals scored in a game by one side, all by different players?” wondered Andrew Hill in 2016 (and plenty of you this week after Newcastle’s eight-goalscorer win at Sheffield United).

A few of you set the bar at seven. Charly Yver nominated Nantes 7-0 Nice in 1996-97, when Claude Makélélé was one of the scorers. Sveinn Sigþórsson cited Manchester City 7-0 Norwich in 2013-14, while David McManus went all the way back to Leeds’s 7-0 shellacking of Chelsea in 1967-68. The last two cases both included an own goal, so maybe that only counts as six.

Either way, that great Leeds side must bow down at the feet of Clitheroe FC, who walloped Shelley 8-1 in 2014. Sure, it was a pre-season friendly but, well, look in the book. It has happened in a competitive game too: Brendan Slattery recalls Ventspils 8-0 B68 in the qualifying rounds for the Uefa Cup of 2004-05.

Stephen Crisp wearily reminds us that Liverpool had eight different scorers when they beat Crystal Palace 9-0 in 1989; Steve Nicol ruined a great factgasm by scoring his second goal in the 90th minute. Liverpool went one better in 1974-75, with nine different scorers in an 11-0 defenestration of Strømsgodset. The only players who didn’t score were Brian Hall and the goalkeeper Ray Clemence, though Clemence did get an assist. Thanks to Chris Carey and Stefan Glosby for that one.

[🚨 2023 update 🚨]

Here’s Ben Janeson to flag that “in the DFB-Pokal first-round match between Landesliga Bayern-Nord (fifth-tier) club DJK Waldberg and Bayern Munich on 15 August 1997, the hosts lost 16-1, with nine different Bayern players scoring (Jancker x5, Élber x3, Hamann x2, Scholl, Basler, Fink, Strunz, Helmer, Rizzitelli)”.

Can you help?

“I work for Marine AFC and due to cup games, replays and rescheduled fixtures, we have no home games on a Saturday between 26 August and 21 October,” writes Adam Yates. “Have you heard of any similar waits when there are no stadium factors in play?”

“While at the Allianz Arena watching Bayern-Manchester United, the fact that United had three goalkeepers on the bench got me wondering: what is the highest number of players to play in goal for one team in a competitive match? And have three or more specialist keepers ever appeared in one match for the same team?” asks Paul Vickers.

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