Football

World football: Horror debuts

Woodgate had a debut to forget (©GettyImages)
Woodgate had a debut to forget (©GettyImages).

With the transfer window finally being closed for until January, there’ll be a lot of players eager to make their debuts for their respective clubs – such as Gareth Bale, Mesut Ozil, Willian and Marouane Fellaini.

While most players will desperate to get in and make their impression on their new side straight away, some players may feel a bit more nervous about stepping on the field for the first tine for a new club.

Here is a look at four players whose debuts this season’s new signings won’t want to replicate:

Wayne Bridge: West Ham

In recent years Wayne Bridge’s career will be more remembered for off-field affairs like his romance with The Saturday’s singer Frankie Stanford and the more controversial falling out with ex-pal John Terry.

Although fans of the Hammers might have something else they will remember him by – and it won’t be fond memories either. Bridge started his first game for West Ham on the 15th of January 2011 in a 3-0 defeat to Arsenal where the ex-England defender had a part to play in the blame for each of the three goals.

Winger Theo Walcott left Bridge for dead and whipped a ball in for Robin Van Persie to finish. Robin van Persie was then allowed to return the favour and set up Theo Walcott for the second goal, without much of an effort in defending it from Wayne Bridge.

His horror debut was topped off when Walcott’s pace again made Bridge look like a snail once more, but this time Bridge didn’t let him get too far by tackling Walcott from behind and bringing him down in the box to give away a 77th minute penalty – which Van Persie slotted away.

Bridge was subbed off just before the end, but the damage was done and the bridges were never built again during his spell in London.

Jonathon Woodgate: Real Madrid

I’m sure if Wayne Bridge ever did feel down about his shocking debut for West Ham he’d only have to look back at fellow countryman Jonathon Woodgate’s debut disaster at the Bernabau in 2005.

Woodgate signed for Real Madrid in August 2004, but due to injuries the Madrid fans had to wait for over a year to see their new defender to finally make an appearance, but by the time he did the fans will have been wishing he’d just stayed injured.

He entered the game with bundles of eagerness, but it was all too much when he ended up opening the scoring for Athletic Bilbao by putting the ball into his own goal. Wanting to make up for his horrible start his eagerness grew further and his tackles started flying in left, right and centre resulting in two yellows and an early shower for the ex-England international.

Needless to say he only made 13 more performances before making a return to the Premier League with Middlesbrough.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic: AC Milan

For a man who has played for as many clubs as Zlatan has, making a debut should just feel like a run in a park for the giant Swede. But his first outing in the red and black stripes of Milan wasn’t a debut he will remember fondly.

Ibrahimovic’s first game came against a team that were making their own debut in the Serie A Cesena. After a lousy performance from Milan in which Zlatan didn’t see much of the ball saw them trailing 2-0 to the newly promoted side.

On the 88th minute of time Milan were awarded a penalty and up steps none other than Zlatan Ibrahimovic – their new loan star on his debut. Of course, things didn’t go to plan for the big man and he missed the penalty to cap off what was an already performance.

This didn’t stop Zlatan going onto sign permanently for the club and helping rejuvenate the side’s fortunes.

Ali Dia: Southampton

Perhaps one of the most bizarre transfers in the history of football – and certainly one of the worst.

After playing in lower leagues in France and Germany and a few failed trials at Port Vale, Gillingham and Bournemouth, Dia signed for non-league outfit Blyth Spartans, where he only appeared once as a sub.

In a last ditch attempt to kick-start his professional career Dia’ got his friend to act as footballing legend and former FIFA World Player of the Year, George Weah, and ring then Southampton boss Greame Souness to tell him that Dia was his cousin and played for PSG and held 13 caps for his country.

Not a shard of this was even true, but Souness went along with it and gave Dia a one-month contract.

Dia was given his one and only appearance in a league fixture against Leeds when he came on as a substitute for Southampton legend Matt Le Tissier after 32 minutes. Realising he had been bluffed, Souness substituted Dia himself off after 55 minutes to never be played again. Leeds won the game 2-0.

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