The Rundown

Top 20 greatest football debuts

The Rundown

Sergio Aguero's stunning first outing for Manchester City on Monday night - in which he scored two goals and set up another - is undoubtedly one of the best Premier League debuts ever seen.

But he is not the only player ever to have hit the ground running.The Argentine's brilliance has inspired us to look back at some of the greatest debuts ever seen in the beautiful game.

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Fabrizio Ravanelli for Middlesbrough v Liverpool, 1996

The
silver-haired Italian arrived in the Premier League in a storm of publicity and
excitement after his move from Juventus - and he didn't disappoint. He banged
in a hat-trick against the Reds for Bryan Robson's men, instantly becoming the
most popular man in Middlesbrough.

Christian Vieri for Inter Milan v Verona, 1999

The Italian
superstar seemed to be addicted to signing-on bonuses early in his career,
literally switching teams every season from 1991 onwards before joining Inter for
a then world record fee of £32 million. It turned out to be great value:
he netted a hat-trick on his debut for the club and ended up staying for six
superb seasons.

Mido for Tottenham v Portsmouth, 2005

The
Egyptian striker turned up at Spurs in January 2005 on an 18-month loan from
Roma, and immediately endeared himself to the White Hart Lane faithful by
scoring twice and generally running the opposition ragged (despite still
getting over a groin strain) before being substituted to a standing ovation.

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Alan Shearer for Southampton v Arsenal, 1988

The striker
was promoted from youth team to the first team at The Dell aged just 17, and immediately justified
the faith shown in him with a hat-trick against the
Gunners in a 4-2 victory.

Jimmy Greaves for Chelsea, AC Milan, Tottenham,
West Ham and England

The legendary
English striker had an absolutely phenomenal record that may never be beaten:
he scored on his debut for every team he represented until his retirement in
1971. A comeback four years later (at the age of 35) saw that record spoilt at
Brentwood Town, but it doesn't take much away from a stunning career that saw Greaves
finish as the league's top scorer a record six times.

Jermain Defoe for West Ham, Spurs (twice), Portsmouth and England U21s

Another prolific debutant, Defoe scored in his first game for every team he represented with the exception of Bournemouth - who he nevertheless scored for in 10 consecutive games during a loan spell early in his career to set a post-war record- and England. 

Tony Cottee for Everton v Newcastle United,
1988

The East End boy was the most expensive player ever signed by a British club when
Everton paid West Ham £2.2m for him in August 1988, but he looked like superb
value when he smashed in a hat-trick against the Magpies in a 4-0 win on the
opening day of the season. It wasn't the first time he'd impressed on debut:
Cottee had also scored for the Hammers on his first-team debut at the age of 17
against Tottenham.

Robbie Fowler for Liverpool v Fulham, 1993

The young
striker was fresh off the back of helping England win the U18 European
Championship trophy when he was handed a debut for the Reds in their two-legged
League Cup clash against Fulham. Fowler scored in the first leg as Liverpool
won 3-1, then showed that impressive debut had actually been a quiet night as he
bagged five goals in the return fixture at
Anfield, won 5-0 by the Reds.

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Bobby Charlton for Manchester United v
Charlton, 1956

The
legendary England captain was a part-timer who was still doing his National
Service when he first earned a spot in Matt Busby's side at the age of 18, and
he hit the ground running with two goals against, ironically enough, Charlton Athletic.
The midfielder proved it was no fluke, scoring 12 goals in 14 appearances
during that first season with the Red Devils.

Gianluigi Buffon for Parma v AC Milan, 1995

It is not
only strikers who can impress on their debuts: legendary Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi
Buffon showed his class in his very first match in Serie A as he almost
single-handedly earned Parma a point as Milan - who went on to win the title at
a canter - pummelled the Parma goal without success in a 0-0 draw.

Wayne Rooney for Manchester United v
Fenerbahce, 2004

Rooney's performances
for Everton had made him the most famous teenage footballer in the country, and
his superb showing at Euro 2004 - where he had been England's key player before
getting injured in the quarter-final - had only added to his growing mystique. The
pressure on him increased even further when Manchester United made him the most
expensive teenager in British football history by paying £25.6m for him.
Yet when he was finally fit enough to make his Red Devils debut, he more than
justified the price tag by netting a hat-trick in the Champions League as
United thrashed the Turkish side 6-2.

Romario for Barcelona v Real Sociedad, 1993

Brazil legend Romario hit a hat-trick on his league debut for Barcelona against Real Sociedad in 1993. He completed another four hat-tricks in that season on his way to scoring 30 goals to win the Spanish league's Pichichi award - then helped Brazil win the World Cup in the United States. Surprisingly he was shipped out of Barca just six months after the World Cup by Johan Cruyff, who was unhappy with his attitude that season. 

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Zinedine Zidane for France v Czech Republic,
1994

The
legendary Frenchman's international debut came in a friendly against the Czech
Republic. He was sent on as a late substitute with his side trailing 2-0 and
scored two stunning goals to earn a draw.


Jay-Jay Okocha for Paris St-Germain v Bordeaux, 1999

Okocha was bought for around 15m euros in 1999 - and with his first touches, having appeared as a sub on 70 minutes, smashed a sensational strike into the top corner.

Neil Webb for Manchester United v Arsenal, 1989

He might
have retired to become a postman, but it all started beautifully when he
scored a rocket for United on his debut
against the reigning league champions.

Regi Blinker for Sheffield Wednesday v Aston
Villa, 1996

The Surinam-born
star became an instant hit at Hillsborough with two goals against Villa, even
though his side lost 3-2.

David De Gea for Atletico Madrid v Real
Zaragoza, 2009

The Spanish
goalie might have fluffed his lines in his opening two games for Manchester United,
but he was outstanding for Atletico from the off, saving a penalty in his very
first Liga match. Not that he was blunder-free even back then: he was the man
who conceded the penalty in the first place...

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Ronaldo for Real Madrid v Alaves, 2002

Not Cristiano Ronaldo, but the original. The
Brazilian superstar's £40m move from Inter all seemed worthwhile when he made
his debut from the bench with just 27 minutes remaining and scored two goals to leave the pitch to a standing ovation.

Alan Smith for Leeds v Liverpool, 1998

The
18-year-old scored with his very first touch of the ball in top-flight football
as Leeds beat Liverpool 3-1 at Anfield. 

Craig Hignett for Barnsley v Huddersfield, 1998

Last but
not least, the playmaker scored twice and missed a penalty for Barnsley, dictating the televised Friday night game against Yorkshire rivals. John Hendrie replaced him after the peno and he was given a standing ovation
as they hammered Huddersfield 7-1. Incidentally, the score was 6-0 after 40 minutes.

 

 

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