17 years ago today, one of the most revolutionary tactical tweaks in football history occurred and David James played up front for Manchester City.
On the final day of the 2004/05 Premier League season, Stuart Pearce deployed James as a striker in an attempt to secure qualification for the UEFA Cup.
With just two minutes of normal time remaining and City losing by one goal, 'Psycho' lived up to his name by replacing midfielder Claudio Reyna with second-choice 'keeper Nicky Weaver and throwing England's No.1 up top to "unsettle" the Middlesbrough backline.
£5 million striker Jon Macken was sat on the bench but there was James, with an outfield 'No.1' shirt already printed, taking his gloves off and heading up to the opposite end of the pitch.
It nearly paid off after City were James played his part in City being awarded a last-gasp penalty, but Robbie Fowler saw his spot-kick saved by Mark Schwarzer.
Having only really found out at half-time that it was a possibility, before being thrust into the opposition box in the dying embers, James had no time to prepare whatsoever
"Put it this way, the kit man mentioned at half-time that he had printed a shirt up for me, and I was like, 'What do you mean?', and he hinted that there may be a chance that I would go up front," James recalled in an interview with The Athletic.
"So the first I knew about it was half-time and that was from the kit man, so when the board went up, I think it was 15 minutes to go, I saw Nicky Weaver coming on and I wasn't sure if it was me coming off. I didn't know anything about it.
"I've spoken to Pearcey about it a few times since, and he's said that he anticipated that I would play as a target man, so we could put it in the mixer, but I think I played more as a No 10; I didn't know where I was supposed to be.
"Had I been told the day before that there was any chance, I would have stayed around for an extra hour at the end of training and just practised everything that I would have needed to do as an outfield player."
Pearce's tactical mastery was outdone in 2019 when Chinese Super League outfit Beijing Renhe played with THREE goalkeepers.
Mou Pengfei was deployed in his usual role between the sticks, with Renhe finished the 5-0 defeat with a dream strike partnership of 'keepers Peng Liu and Chen Li.
Featured Image Credit: Sky Sports
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