Demba Ba and Daniel Sturridge enjoyed their Chelsea and Liverpool debuts at the weekend, respectively. Fans of both clubs will hope it’s the start of things to come. But those are just two in a long list of great debuts in the history of the game. Let’s look at some others.
Ronaldo. Real Madrid v Deportivo Alavés, 2002.
Not Cristiano’s first appearance as a Madridista in Tallaght, but the original. Ronaldo arrived at the Bernebéu with huge expectations, with the €45 million price tag seeking justification. He came off the bench with just 27 minutes remaining and scored two goals in a thrilling 5-2 win for Real Madrid. He exited down the tunnel at the final whistle to a standing ovation. Class is permanent.
Jurgen Klinsmann. Sheffield Wednesday v Tottenham, 1994.
The German international arrived at White Hart Lane from Monaco for £2 million in the summer of ’94 and with a reputation of being a constant diver. He marked his debut against Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough by scoring a brilliant header followed by a wonderful diving celebration. This immediately won the fans over and Klinsmann went on to win the 1995 Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year.
Romario. Barcelona v Real Sociedad, 1993.
Brazilian genius Romario marked his Barça debut by netting a hatrick for the Catalans – a feat he achieved four more times throughout the season, earning him the Spanish league’s Pichichi award. He then went onto the little matter of winning the World Cup with Brazil. Had he not had played so remarkably on his debut, would his 1993/94 season been so flawless?
Fabrizio Ravanelli. Middlesbrough v Liverpool, 1996.
Ravanelli arrived in England’s north-east from giants Juventus in the summer of 1996 and he instantly made a huge impact and caused enormous excitement on Teesside by scoring a hat-trick on his debut against Liverpool. But unlike Romario, his season went downhill not long after with the club ultimately being relegated and the disillusioned Italian star moaning about everything from the club’s training facilities to the town itself.
Zinedine Zidane. France v Czech Republic, 1994.
Zizou’s debut for Les Bleus was a true Roy Of The Rovers moment. The French were 2-0 down and towards the end of the game, the then-22-year old came off the bench to show the world the start of things to come. Yes, Zidane’s leadership, skills and magic quickly restored France’s confidence in themselves and the Bordeaux man scored the two cracking goals himself to level the game up. Inspiring.
Alan Smith. Leeds United v Liverpool, 1998.
Not many people score on their debuts with the very first touch of the ball. Alan Smith did. He helped Leeds defeat the Reds 3-1 in their own ground – and right in front of the Kop. Not bad for any 18-year old kid.
Álvaro Recoba. Inter Milan v Brescia, 1997.
The first game of Inter’s 97/98 season had eyes on one man. But it turned out to be not the man they’d hoped. Yes, Recoba made his debut on the same day as Ronaldo made his following his big money move from Barcelona. However, the Uruguyan stole the spotlight after he left the bench, with the Nerazzurri trailing, to score twice in the last ten minutes – the first a thirty-yard piledriver, the second a spectacular free-kick from a ridiculous distance. Watch it here.
Who else has had a cracking debut? Let Rob Smith know via Twitter (@robsmithireland)