New England striker Rickie Lambert scored with his first touch in a Three Lions shirt to break Scottish hearts and with the Southampton man evens in a season-long Premier League goalscorer match-bet with Fulham’s Dimitar Berbatov, we look at five more memorable England debuts of recent years.
Theo Walcott v Hungary – 2006
All eyes were on Arsenal’s Theo Walcott as he became England’s youngest player – a record he still holds – in a 65th minute substitute appearance, ahead of the 2006 World Cup. The then 17-year-old did not make it onto the pitch in Germany, but has since established himself in the first-team and his strike against Scotland follows a 14-goal season in the Premier League for the Gunners.
Micah Richards v Holland – 2006
Richards has struggled to get a regular game at Eastlands in recent seasons, but back in the early days of Steve McClaren’s ill-fated reign as England manager the Manchester City man gave a barn-storming performance at right wing-back, with England unlucky to concede late to the Dutch in a 1-1 draw. With City 11/5 for the title this year, Richards could finally nail down a spot at centre-back in the absence of injured Matija Nastasic.
Wayne Rooney/Francis Jeffers v Australia – 2003
The debut of England’s best player in a generation was memorable for all the wrong reasons, with England 2-0 down before Sven-Goran Eriksson’s 11 half-time changes saw the introductions of Rooney and former Everton teammate Francis Jeffers. The two players combined with fellow debutant Jermaine Jenas to pull a goal back, before Oz forward John Aloisi made it 3-1 just before the end.
Darius Vassell v Holland – 2002
Former Aston Villa and Man City striker Vassell fired home a spectacular equalising volley in a man of the match performance, as Eriksson’s preparations for the summer’s World Cup took in a trip to Amsterdam. One-cap wonder Michael Rickets also made his debut, in what turned out to be the high point of the former Bolton Wanderers’ career by far.
Les Ferdinand v San Marino – 1993
Ferdinand – who would go on to star for Newcastle and Tottenham in the Premier League – was still at QPR when he scored in the 6-0 mauling of the uber-minnows. The striker also scored in the 7-1 win at San Marino, but that was not enough to ensure England’s passage to the 1994 World Cup, with Norway and Holland taking the qualifying spots and boss Graham Taylor fired.