A big moment in any player’s career is making their debut, whether it be after a rise through the youth ranks or a high-profile transfer. The eyes of the world are gazed upon these individuals for 90 minutes, with fans itching to see what their latest player is capable of. In these circumstances, some perform better than others.
In football history, we’ve seen a mixture of debuts- starting from the disastrous to the remarkable. We’re focusing on the latter today, inspired by Islam Slimani’s perfect start to life with Leicester City at the weekend, to run down the greatest debuts in the Premier League era.
Islam Slimani: Leicester City (2016)
Talk about pressure. The £30m man became Leicester’s most expensive player this summer when he arrived from Portugal and he has a hell of a job ahead of him, with the Foxes unlikely to ever achieve a better season than they did last term. Slimani was on-form for his new club though, scoring two headed goals as the Foxes overcame Burnley to send Leicester flying up the league table- and he should now create a deadly strike force alongside Jamie Vardy.
Ruud Van Nistelrooy: Manchester United (2001)
Starting as he intended to go on at Old Trafford, Dutch striker Ruud Van Nistelrooy grabbed a brace on his Premier League debut against Fulham- shortly after he netted against Liverpool in the Community Shield. It was a sign of things to come from the striker, who finished the campaign with 23 goals in 32 Premier League matches- adding another 10 in the Champions League and taking home the PFA Player of the Year award at the end of the season.
Robbie Keane: Coventry City (1999)
There was a time when £6m went a long way in football and in 1999 Coventry forked out that sum to land Robbie Keane from Wolverhampton Wanderers; which at the time was a British record-fee for a teenager. The Irishman didn’t let the price-tag weigh him done though, as he netted both goals in a 2-0 victory over Derby County. He had previously scored on his Wolves debut and was well travelled across British football- playing for Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool, Celtic and Aston Villa.
Fabrizio Ravanelli: Middlesbrough (1996)
The fair-haired Italian had made a name for himself with Juventus before his move to Teesside in 1996, costing Middlesbrough £7m, but he got off to the perfect start in his Premier League career by netting a hat-trick on his debut against Liverpool. Unfortunately, he didn’t continue in that fashion and Middlesbrough were relegated, with Ravanelli then moving to French outfit Marseille.
Sergio Aguero: Manchester City (2011)
Having arrived at Manchester City for a huge price-tag, reported to be in the region of £38m, Sergio Aguero had a lot of pressure upon his shoulders. The Argentine maestro made his Premier League debut off the bench in August 2011, against Swansea, scoring twice and contributing with an assist during a thirty minute spell. It was a sign of things to come, with Aguero now having scored 105 Premier League goals in 153 matches.
Danny Rose: Tottenham Hotspur (2007)
Picture the scene: a 19-year-old full-back making his Premier League debut in the North London derby against Arsenal, scoring a 30-yard screamer to help the Lilywhites achieve a victory against the odds. That was exactly how the debut of Danny Rose went in 2007, as the youngster put his name down in Spurs folklore with a stunning strike. It doesn’t get much better than that!
Mido: Tottenham Hotspur (2005)
Sticking with the Tottenham theme, Mido also had a brilliant debut for the North London side back in 2005. Arriving on an 18-month loan deal in the January transfer window, Mido scored a brace on his Premier League debut against Portsmouth and later made his spell at Tottenham permanent.
Alan Smith: Leeds United (1998)
A product of the esteemed Leeds United academy, Alan Smith got off to a flying start on his Premier League debut in 1998 as he netted against Liverpool. That goal was the platform for him to become a key-part of the Leeds United side, who reached the semi-finals of the Champions League in 2001, before the club’s shock relegation in 2004. A famous photograph on the day Leeds’ relegation was confirmed shows Smith kissing the badge and crying- but fans felt aggrieved as he went on to join rivals Manchester United.
Jurgen Klinsmann: Tottenham Hotspur (1994)
Jurgen Klinsmann was a pantomime villain when he joined Tottenham in 1994, after playing a part in the West Germany squad that knocked England out of the 1990 World Cup and having a reputation as a diver. Klinsmann took it all in his stride though, scoring on his debut against Sheffield Wednesday and becoming a cult-hero after celebrating with a swan dive.
Paulo Wanchope: Derby Country (1997)
Paulo Wanchope started off his Derby Country career in great fashion, as he dribbled 60-yards with the ball before cooly slotting beneath Peter Schmeichel to give the Rams a famous 3-2 victory over Derby County. Wanchope’s goal was later voted the best in the club’s history as part of their 125th birthday celebrations. He was a key-player for Derby, helping them achieve a club-best finish in two consecutive years, before being sold to West Ham United.
Alan Shearer: Blackburn Rovers (1992)
The Premier League’s all-time leading goalscorer, with 260 strikes, had to start somewhere- and his first of a record goal haul came in the Premier League’s inaugural season in 1992. His first year with the club was marred by injury but he went on to be a hit, lifting the Premier League title with Rovers, and then moving to boyhood club Newcastle United.