After Anthony Martial’s dream debut for Manchester United against Liverpool two weeks ago, we decided to cast our gaze back to other memorable football debuts – which are remembered for both the right and wrong reasons.
Ali Dia (Southampton, 1996)
Incredibly, in 1996, Dia phoned Southampton manager Graeme Souness, pretending to be the famous Senegalese footballer George Weah. Dia then persuaded Souness to sign Weah’s talented cousin ‘Ali Dia.’ Souness bought the ruse and Southampton offered Dia a month long contract in 1996.
On November 23, Dia was brought on to replace none other than Matt Le Tissier in the league against Leeds United. Dia, unfortunately, was unable to disguise the fact that he hadn’t a clue how to play football. His glorious debut lasted all of twenty minutes, before a bewildered Souness took him back off, in what is surely the worst debut of all time.
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Wayne Rooney (Man Utd, 2004)
Wayne Rooney started with a bang at Manchester United and hasn’t looked back since. Rooney arrived at United in 2004, as a fresh-faced 18-year-old and with huge expectation on his young shoulders.
Rooney’s debut came in the Champions League against Fenerbahce, after his big money move from Everton. Rooney, in his first taste of European football, struck a famous hat-trick to immediately endear himself to the Old Trafford faithful.
Jonathan Woodgate (Real Madrid, 2005)
Jonathon Woodgate’s Real Madrid debut in 2005 was a day he will never forget, for all the wrong reasons.
Madrid signed Woodgate from Newcastle in 2004, but the injury prone centre-half did not play for a year (you guessed it, through injury).
Woodgate finally made his debut against Athletic Bilbao on September 22, 2005. Woodgate scored an own goal before being sent off after receiving two yellow cards.
Not the most impressive debut.
Luis Suarez (Liverpool, 2011)
January 2011 was a turbulent time for Liverpool FC.
Deadline day saw Fernando Torres depart for Chelsea, whilst Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez were brought in to replace him.
Suarez came off the bench at Anfield to face Stoke City just a few days later on February 2nd. After being played through one on one, Suarez rounded the keeper and scored in the Kop end. It was an emphatic debut and gave the Liverpool supporters the belief that life would indeed go on without Torres.