Former Manchester United goalkeeper Nick Culkin holds unusual Premier League record

  • Rob Swan

Which footballer holds the record for the shortest debut in Premier League history?

It’s a tough question, but if you knew the answer was ‘Nick Culkin’ then give yourself a deserved pat on the back.

The retired goalkeeper made his one and only Premier League appearance for Manchester United during the 1999-00 season, coming on in stoppage-time away at Arsenal.

United, 2-1 up thanks to a brace from captain Roy Keane, were forced to make a late change after Raimond van der Gouw was kicked in the face by Martin Keown.

Peter Schmeichel had left Old Trafford several months earlier, while Mark Bosnich was injured, and so Sir Alex Ferguson instructed Nick Culkin to get himself on the pitch.

Culkin, who United signed from York City for £100,000, ran to his goal for the remaining seconds of the match while Van der Gouw was stretchered off.


“He comes on for what I think might be the shortest debut in history,” the commentator said.

Culkin then took the goal-kick and referee Graham Poll immediately blew the final whistle.

Watch the video here…

And that was that for Culkin. His only competitive appearance in a Man Utd. Indeed, his one and only touch for the Red Devils. He never played another Premier League match again.

In an interview with the Premier League’s official website, Culkin said: ”The gaffer just turned round to me and said, ‘Nick, get yourself ready, you’re going on.’

“So I just got my training kit off. I had my shin pads on already anyway. No warm-up, just get dressed and on you go.

“Unfortunately or fortunately – unfortunately if you ask me – the game ended immediately.

“I celebrated like we’d won the World Cup. I ran off with my arm up like Alan Shearer!”


After his two seconds of fame, Culkin ended up joining Queens Park Rangers in 2002 before moving on to Radcliffe Borough and then Prescot Cables.

Culkin ended his career after a brief spell with FC United of Manchester during the 2014-15 campaign.

But how does Culkin feel about holding one of football’s strangest records?

“I ended up having the shortest-ever United career and the shortest-ever Premier League career, two records which will never be beaten,” he told Man Utd’s official website.

“Quite often I’ll get messages from people telling me that I’ve just cropped up as an answer in a pub quiz. That makes me smile.

“Sometimes, if it’s a bad day at the office or whatever, I look back on the good things that have happened in my life. I’ll just have a little sit down and that kick just come back. The memories of it, the feelings, the emotion… I can actually get quite emotional when I talk about it, but I genuinely am really proud of it.


“People might laugh, but there are millions of United fans around the world who would give anything to pull on the shirt and represent the club. That’s something I did and it’s something nobody can ever take away from me.

“It may only have lasted a couple of seconds, but I had one hell of a journey to get there.”

Well said, Nick.

Playing for Man Utd – even if it was only for two seconds – is still an achievement to be very proud of.

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