The sight of an outfielder standing awkwardly between the sticks, donning gloves and a shirt that just looks wrong is one of football’s great joys.
Former Arsenal and Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud joins the likes of Lucas Radebe, John O’Shea, Harry Kane and Kyle Walker in heeding the call – and he did not disappoint.
The World Cup winner was only required to mind the net for a couple of minutes as Milan saw out a narrow 1-0 victory away to Genoa. But it must have felt like an eternity. And it wasn’t lacking in action.
The Serie A clash had been a tight contest. The Rossoneri looked as though they were missing their chance to move top of the Serie A table.
Genoa have only just been promoted but they’ve already won away at Lazio, taken a point from champions Napoli and thrashed Jose Mourinho’s Roma 4-1. And they were obdurate opposition here.
Christian Pulisic broke the deadlock in the 87th minute, having been assisted by his USMNT team-mate Yunus Musah. The duo might have been forgiven for expecting to be the centre of attention after the final whistle. But no goalscoring heroics can compare to an outfielder making saves at the other end.
It wasn’t until the sixth minute of added time that the contest really exploded into life, with Milan ‘keeper Mike Maignan dismissed following a VAR check after charging out of his box and clattering no fewer than two Genoa attackers.
Step forward Giroud.
10 minutes of mayhem between Genoa and Milan! 🤯
🟥 Two goalkeepers sent off
🧤 Giroud goes in goal
💪 Giroud makes a stunning save
You'll want to watch this 😅 pic.twitter.com/QYIq0vysWl
— Football on TNT Sports (@footballontnt) October 8, 2023
Stefano Pioli had run out of his subs, prompting their No.9 to raise his hand and be the one to don Maignan’s big green shirt.
He must have felt like a fish out of water as he yelled at his team-mates to sort out their positioning as he nervously awaited Genoa’s resulting free-kick. And he was a spectator as Albert Gudmundsson’s effort ricocheted off the wall and onto the crossbar.
Genoa’s ‘keeper was also dismissed in the ensuing corner chaos, having been late in a challenge on Musah, but the clocked ticked past 100 minutes and still the football Gods gifted us a moment of goal-mouth action.
A nicely-worked Genoa move saw George Puscas bearing down on goal, requiring Giroud to do his best Ederson impression, leave his six-yard box, and be decisive.
Puscas’ knockdown header was almost perfect, but it gave Milan’s stand-in ‘keeper just enough time to come out and win the ball.
“I never experienced a moment like this!” laughed Giroud in his post-match interview with Sky Sport Italia.
“I am very proud for the team, we fought to the end, I made a good save! I was also lucky with the crossbar. We fought like lions and I am very happy for the fans.”
Olivier Giroud with a brilliantly brave save to secure the win for AC Milan! 😲 pic.twitter.com/z51fhB9Hvr
— Football on TNT Sports (@footballontnt) October 7, 2023
“Almost,” the Frenchman responded when asked whether the adrenaline rush of making that last-gasp save was the same as scoring a goal.
“I wasn’t sure if it was going to be a header or not, so I thought just go and it’s better to be there than staying on the line. I do not have the movements of a goalkeeper, but that is what I felt. It really hurt my arm, but that’s fine.
“I did like to go in goal when I was a kid, so that’s why I was chosen.”
Giroud is 37 years of age. He’s won the World Cup and Champions League. Titles in France and Italy. He might have thought he’d seen it all. But this was a new one.
“I am keeping this jersey now, I’m framing it!” Giroud said with a big beaming smile, having insisted on wearing the oversized shirt while he conducted his post-match media duties.