Australia booked their spot at a fifth consecutive FIFA World Cup by beating Peru in a gruelling intercontinental playoff victory in Qatar on Monday that will live long in the memory thanks to the exploits of Socceroos goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne.
Graham Arnold’s team held firm over 120 goalless minutes before triumphing in a penalty shootout thanks in large part to Redmayne, who became the star of the show despite only coming on in the 120th minute of the match.
In what was only his third senior appearance for his country, the veteran Sydney FC shot-stopper emerged from the bench in the final minute of extra time specifically in order to replace No. 1 Mat Ryan in goal for the shootout.
The reason for Redmayne’s late introduction soon became apparent as the 33-year-old proceeded to hop around and waggle his limbs in a bid to distract Peru’s penalty takers. Sure enough, he ended up making the crucial save to thwart Alex Valera as Peru spurned their sixth spot kick, sparking wide-eyed celebrations from Redmayne and emotional scenes among the victorious Australia squad.
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While emotion got the better of many players in the stadium, many spectators likened Redmayne’s curious choreography to that favoured by Australian kids TV favourites The Wiggles.
Redmayne’s unorthodox goal-line dancing even received a seal approval from two stars of the long-running show, Blue Wiggle (Anthony Field) and Purple Wiggle (Jeff Fatt), who dubbed him “The Grey Wiggle.”
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There’s also every chance that the image of Redmayne basking in his post-save glory will secure him a slice of immortality as a top-tier reaction GIF to be used for years to come.
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However, it’s not the first time that Redmayne has made himself a dancing distraction and come out on top in a big shootout, with the Sydney FC keeper also deploying the tactic during the 2019 A-League Grand Final.
???? Probably an ideal day to bring this one back out of the archives!!@redders_20 winning huge penalty shootouts since 2019!!#SydneyIsSkyBlue #hero #yellowwiggle #greywiggle pic.twitter.com/5FpYEWKePC
— Sydney FC (@SydneyFC) June 14, 2022
Australia have themselves a brand new cult sporting hero, and we can’t wait to see him back in Qatar in five months’ time.
Redmayne also joins a fairly exclusive club of goalkeepers who have been subbed on in the very last seconds of extra time in order to capitalise on their shootout prowess, be that shot-stopping and/or prancing around like a court jester. The risky tactic isn’t widely used, but it has yielded results on occasion with several examples of a late entrant between the sticks duly coming out on the winning side.
Chelsea’s Kepa Arrizabalaga has a checkered record when it comes to being subbed on for shootouts (more on that later) but his first foray ended in success. After grinding out a 1-1 draw with Villarreal over 120 minutes in Belfast, the Blues opted to swap out Edouard Mendy in favour of Kepa less than 60 seconds before full time. The Spaniard went on to make two saves, including a decisive one from Raul Albiol that saw his side lift their second UEFA Super Cup title.
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Dutch coach Louis van Gaal raised eyebrows when he decided to make an unprecedented change with seconds remaining of extra time before Netherlands’ World Cup quarterfinal against Costa Rica went to penalties. For the first time in World Cup history, Van Gaal opted to swap his goalkeepers in the 121st minute, replacing reliable No. 1 Jasper Cillessen with reserve Tim Krul with the shootout solely in mind. It worked, as the bench-fresh Krul dived the right way for every penalty and managed to save two of the five Costa Rican efforts he faced, thus helping to secure a 4-3 shootout victory for the Oranje, who eventually reached the semifinals.
Dele Aiyenugba (Enyimba, 2004 African Champions League)
There were similar scenes when Nigerian side Enyimba took on Tunisian outfit ES Tunis in the semifinals of the 2004 CAF Champions League. With the teams locked at 2-2 on aggregate after the second leg, penalties looked to be inevitable. It was at this point that Enyimba’s coaching team took the maverick decision to sub off experienced Nigeria international Vincent Enyeama and replace him with his understudy, Dele Aiyenugba. However, the new entrant didn’t let his club down and successfully saved two Tunis penalties before defender Zied Bhairi sealed the deal by blazing his decisive spot kick high over the crossbar. The two-legged final saw Enyimba face another Tunisian side, Etoile du Sahel, and again Aiyenugba was brought on for the shootout as the Nigerian club won the trophy, though not before Enyeama had opened the scoring during the match with a penalty of his own.
Pietro Spinosa (Castel di Sangro, 1996 Serie C promotion playoff)
With promotion to Italy‘s Serie B on the table, unfancied Castel di Sangro found themselves within one playoff of reaching the second tier for the first time in their history. They were up against an Ascoli side who had been playing top-tier football as recently as 1990 and naturally, as minnows hailing from a rural commune in Abruzzo who had already lost twice against their opponents during the regular season, Castel di Sangro went into the game as significant underdogs. After 120 minutes idled by without a goal being scored, penalties were finally required to settle the matter. However, one minute before the whistle, Castel di Sangro coach Osvaldo Jaconi decided to swap goalkeeper Roberto De Juliis with Pietro Spinosa, who had not played a single minute of football that season. Seven rounds of penalties went by with both sides finding the net each time until, at the eighth time of asking, Spinosa was able to swat away Ascoli’s spot kick to secure promotion — a stunning moment that has gone down in Italian lower league history as “The Miracle of Castel di Sangro.”
Kepa Arrizabalaga (Chelsea, 2022 Carabao Cup final)
Kepa fell foul of the double-edged sword when Chelsea decided to repeat their approach to winning the 2021 UEFA Super Cup six months later when the 2022 Carabao Cup final against Liverpool dragged all the way to a penalty shootout. Just as in Belfast, the Spain international replaced Mendy for the climax, but this time a truly epic shootout unfolded and rumbled on to the point that both goalkeepers were tasked with taking kicks of their own. Caoimhin Kelleher kept cool and converted Liverpool’s 11th penalty, then reassumed his place between the posts where he had the best view of Kepa ballooning his effort over the bar to hand the cup to the Reds.
Zeljko Kalac (Leicester City, 1996 Football League First Division Playoff final)
Leicester City were locked level at 1-1 with promotion rivals Crystal Palace as the playoff final entered the 119th minute at Wembley. Hoping to add a little spark into the mix, Foxes manager Martin O’Neill made a late double-change that saw captain Steve Walsh replaced at centre-back by Colin Hill and goalkeeper Kevin Poole make way for back-up Zeljko “Spider” Kalac. But 6-foot-8 colossus Kalac was unable to test his mettle in the shootout as Leicester then won the game less than 20 seconds later thanks to a 121st-minute goal from striker Steve Claridge.
ESPN’s Alejandro Berry contributed to this report