By Jack Beresford
Kepa Arrizabalaga’s Carabao Cup antics may have been the result of a “misunderstanding” with Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri but there was no disguising the substitute-based shithousery that unfolded at Elland Road nearly 24 years ago.
April 9th, 1995 would prove to be a day that would live long in the memory of manager Joe Royle, Nigerian striker Daniel Amokachi and Everton fans everywhere.
Facing off against a heavily-fancied Tottenham team in the FA Cup semi-finals, the Toffees found themselves 2-0 up at Elland Road through goals from Matt Jackson and Graham Stuart scored 10 minutes either side of half-time.
However, just as Everton supporters were beginning to dream of Wembley, Spurs struck back with Jurgen Klinsmann reducing the deficit from the spot to set up a nervy finale.
Things then went from bad to worse for Royle when target man Paul Rideout was stretchered off.
A key figure for the Merseysiders at the time, Rideout was enjoying the most prolific season of his career as the focal point for Everton’s route one attacks (he would ultimately go on to nod in the winner against Manchester United in the 1995 FA Cup final).
A nervous few minutes followed as Rideout received treatment at the side of the pitch. Eventually the Scot got to his feet and appeared ready to re-enter the action, much to Royle’s relief.
That relief would prove short-lived however when Royle realised, to his stunned bemusement, that Daniel Amokachi, a man left on the bench due to his patchy form, had somehow hoodwinked the officials and got himself subbed on in Rideout’s place.
A £3million summer signing from Club Brugge, Amokachi had first caught the eye playing for Nigeria at the 1994 World Cup, where he scored a couple of absolute screamers.
He’d struggled to make much of an impact in England though, bagging just one goal in 12 Premier League outings up to that point.
Unperturbed, Amokachi was determined to prove his doubters wrong on that fateful afternoon in Leeds – whether the manager wanted him to or not.
Stunned at what had unfolded before his eyes, Royle could only watch on as Amokachi delivered a performance the Blues boss later described as “the best substitution I never made.”
With eight minutes to go, Amokachi met a cross from Stuart at the far post, heading home to scupper Spurs’ hopes of earning a replay. There was still time left for chaotic striker to add a second, this time meeting a cross from Gary Ablett to make it 4-1 in the 89th minute.
Everton were in dreamland with Royle in an apparent state of shock at what had unfolded.
“Daniel wandered onto the pitch, the fourth official held up the board, and that was it,” he said.
Amokachi had a clearer recollection of events though, as demonstrated when he gave his version to the Liverpool Echo a few years later.
I’d been sat there listening to the physio Les Helm telling Joe that Paul Rideout was injured and needed to come off.
The gaffer kept saying he wanted to give him five minutes, but he wasn’t getting any better, so I decided to bring myself on.
Klinsmann was on fire and really piling on the pressure, and I felt I could help change the game.
I just thought ‘I hope this works’ and thank God it did, or it could have been my last game for Everton.
Though he was left out of the starting XI for Everton’s subsequent 1-0 cup final win over United, Amokachi did get onto the pitch, this time with the manager’s approval.
He celebrated the Toffees’ surprise success in style too, donning a natty blue beret as he and his teammates celebrated at Wembley.
Amokachi remained at Goodison Park for the 1995-96 season, finishing the campaign with six league goals in 25 league outings before departing for Besiktas.
He may not have lived up to his quite hefty (at the time) price tag, but he’ll still be remembered for his integral part in one of the most effective “misunderstandings” in the history of both Everton and the FA Cup.