With the first day of the Premier League season drawing ever closer, many players are set to make their debut for their new clubs. They may want to look away now though as we look back at the five worst debuts in football history.
Ali Dia – Southampton 1996
Graeme Souness won’t want to be reminded of this famous story about Ali Dia – supposedly the next George Weah when turning up at the Dell. Saints were in need of a proven goalscorer and were pointed in the direction of Dia by a spoofer posing as Liberian football god Weah, who reportedly had heard some special things to say about his ‘cousin’.
Souness took his advice and signed him without a trial. Ten minutes into his debut against Leeds, it was clear for even the most novice football scout that the only thing Ali was kicking up was a real stink. He was replaced after 10 minutes and never seen in a Saints shirt, or on any professional football field, again.
Jason Crowe – Arsenal 1997
Where have you heard this name? Rings a bell, doesn’t it? Well, Crowe is famous because he holds the record of the fastest sending-off in English football history. To make matters worse it came 33 seconds into his debut for Arsenal after being kept out of the side by Gunners legend Lee Dixon. Surprisingly, things didn’t work out at Arsenal. He now holds down a regular first-team spot for Corby Town.
Chris Iwelumo – Scotland 2008
Yes, we all remember Chris Iwelumo’s incredible miss on his debut for Scotland against Norway in a 2008 World Cup qualifier. The former Wolves forward found himself three yards out with an open goal; somehow he spooned the ball over the bar. It was a chance that he’d score 99 times out of 100 and unfortunately this was the one occasion he didn’t.
Wayne Bridge – West Ham United 2011
Bored of picking up his huge weekly pay packet for Man City, Wayne Bridge decided to go play some football at West Ham. His debut suggested it had been so long since he started a game, he actually forgot what to do. Bridge was given the run around for both Arsenal’s opening goals and then gave away a needless penalty.
Jonathan Woodgate – Real Madrid 2004
With the world playing close scrutiny on how Real Madrid’s new £13.4 million signing fared on debut, Jonathan Woodgate went to pieces. On the back of a year layoff with one of his many injures, the glorified sick note not only headed a spectacular own goal into the top corner but was also sent off with half an hour remaining. Nightmare.
Who will score more in the debut season? Negredo (10/11) or Soldado (10/11)?