Bad Day at the office?

With seemingly the whole country still reeling over the quality of Sergio Aguero’s debut the likes of Gervinho and Daniel Gabbidon will be hoping their first games are not representative of their form this year. But just how bad were their debuts? Here are 10 debuts that will leave you hiding your head in shame

1 – Jonathan Woodgate – Real Madrid – Athletico Bilbao 2004

Real Madrid were at the height of their powers when Jonathon Woodgate traded in his Newcastle colours for those of the European Champions. Many were caught off guard by the signing but even more were left flabbergasted by the horrible debut the ex-Leeds man had against Athletico Bilbao. The English centre back scored an own goal before picking up a harsh second yellow and consequently his marching orders.

What happened next? Woodgate nailed down the starting berth in the Real Madrid defence before inevitably injuries took their toll, he was voted the worst signing of the 21st century by Spanish website, before moving to Middlesbrough, Tottenham and finally Stoke City where he looks to revive his career.

2 – Ali Dia – Southampton –

Picture the scene, you are the manager of a mid-level premiership club going about your day when the current world player of the year rings and offers a player he claims is even better than him to you, to good to be true? Not for Graham Souness. Yes, amazingly Graham Souness failed to spot this forerunner to the Nigerian banking scam, honestly thought he was talking to George Weah and even more incredibly despite Dia’s poor performances in training he even brought him on as a substitute in a premiership game where he was totally outclasssed and eventually substituted by football powerhouse Ken Monkou…

What happened next? Dia If Souness had done some background work he would have noticed that Dia previously had been released after a sole appearance for Blythe Spartans, following his immediate release from Southampton he returned to the non-league with Gateshead. Dia made 8 appearances and scored two goals there before graduating from Northumbria University with a business degree.

3 Jason Crowe – Arsenal – Birmingham City 1997

By the time of the 1997 League Cup tie between Arsenal and Birmingham, youth was Arsene Wenger’s priority. An ageing backline in particular was of concern for the Frenchman with Bould, Adams, Seaman, Dixon,  Keown and Winterburn all the wrong side of 30.  For 19 year old right back Jason Crowe, this was the time to make an impact and challenge Lee Dixon’s starting slot. However, the only impact Crowe made was on Birmingham Midfielder Martin O’Conner’s shin, Crowe’s high tackle saw him red-carded a remarkable 33 seconds after coming on as a substitute, an English record at the time.

What happened next? Crowe didn’t unseat Dixon, who played for a further 5 years, instead he made just three more appearances before moves to Portsmouth, Grimsby, Northampton and finally to Leyton Orient. Before his contract was terminated at the end of last season, the 32 year old is still looking for a club.

4 Henrik Larsson – Celtic – Hibs/FC Tirol Innsbruck –1997

The man is practically a living god on the green and white side of Glasgow but the Swedish legend had an awful start with terrible debuts in both the SPL and the UEFA cup for Celtic though. His poor pass gifted Hibs the winner on his SPL start before scoring an own goal against FC Tirol Innsbruck in a UEFA cup qualifier.

What happened next? 174 League goals for Celtic, five Scottish Golden boot titles, two Player of the year gongs and an entry to the Scottish Hall of fame before winning the Champions League with Barcelona and helping Manchester United to the title in England. I think it’s fair to say his bad start may have been forgotten.

5 Curtis Davies – Aston Villa – Leicester City 2007

Curtis Davies was hot property in the summer of 2007 with Manchester United and Arsenal rumoured to be interested in signing the baggies star following West Brom’s relegation. He sealed a loan move to Aston Villa and set about solidifying his place in the team against fellow east midlands side Leicester City when the sides clashed in the league cup. Davies was substituted before the end of the game and subsequently described his performance as ‘just awful’ while adding he ‘looked like a pub player’.

What happened next? Davies had  a brighter Premiership beginning with Villa, scoring on his first league start before outcompeting Zat Knight. Davies’ injury problems struck though and the arrival of Martin O’Neill as manager limited his opportunities. Davies moved to Championship Birmingham City at the start of this season as he looks to return to first team football.

6 Stanley Milton – Halifax Town – Stockport County 1934

Town manager Alex Raisbeck gave goalkeeper Milton his debut in this key league fixture unfortunately for all involved Milton failed to cover himself in glory, conceding a 13 (THIRTEEN) goals including 11 in  the second half.

What happened next? 16 year-old Milton became a record breaker as a consequence of this defeat, with the 13 – 0 drubbing becoming the largest margin of victory in a league fixture. Not much is known about the young Milton’s story beyond his awful debut, Halifax however, recovered well and finished 2nd in the league in the 1934-35 season finishing five places ahead of Stockport.

7 Lionel Messi – Argentina – Hungary – 2005

On in the 63rd minute red carded for violent conduct in the 65th, this was hardly the fireworks people were expecting from the little man’s international debut. Messi had just taken the place of Lisandro Lopez when a small piece of shirt pulling by Hungarian defender Vanczak was countered by a flailing forearm that caught him in the face. It was probably accidental but referee Markus Merk’s red card guaranteed Messi’s debut was memorable for all the wrong reasons.

What happened next? On the domestic stage Messi has won everything, three European cups, five La Liga titles, a Copa del Ray, a UEFA Super Cup, a World Club Cup and five Spanish Super Cups to go with his two World Footballer of the year awards… some will say his international form has never quite matched his club form but the boy is still only 24 and he does have an Olympic Gold medal in his trophy cabinet too.

8 Wayne Bridge – West Ham – Arsenal – 2011

West Ham were facing up to the potential of relegation to the Championship and pulled out the big guns in order to secure the loan signing of England full back Wayne Bridge to shore up the left hand side of the defence. Unfortunately for West Ham the January signing hadn’t played much competitive football and subsequently lacked the fitness to compete at the top level. He was torn apart by Theo Walcott and inadvertently had a hand in all three Arsenal goals as the hammers slumped to a 3-0 defeat.

What happened next? West Ham’s relegation ensured that any permanent deal for Bridge became financially impossible, his loan deal expired and he returns to Manchester City but is currently behind Gael Clichy and Aleksandar Kolarov in the pecking order.

9 Chris Iwelumo – Scotland – Norway – 2008

Wolves striker Iwelumo was having an unremarkable debut in a crucial European Championships qualifier against Norway until Gary Naysmith’s cross evaded everyone leaving him a tap in from around three yards out with about 10 minutes to go. Iwelumo however didn’t round this off in the typical ‘schoolboy-in-the-garden’ way however instead incredibly missing. This is made more remarkable when you consider that the ball arrived from the left side of the goal, to a right footed player on the right hand side of the goal… who subsequently shanked the ball past the left hand upright.

What happened next? Where I was watching a Scot hurled abuse at the screen while a Wolves fan who’d been talking the player up prior to his miss suddenly fell silent. For the player despite claims he would ‘take it on the chin’ his league formed suffered and he was eventually shipped off to Burnley in 2010 before signing for Watford. Iwelumo added three more caps but no goals since ‘that miss’.

10 Michael Theoklitos – Norwich City – Colchester –2009

Having been relegated from the Championship the previous season Norwich City were seen as strong favourites to win League one in 2009 but they were given a battering in their opening fixture. Australian keeper Teoklitos missed punches, catches, crosses and practically everything else as Norwich were beaten 7-1 by the Essex boys.

What happened next? Norwich hired Colchester manager Paul Lambert, who subsequently sacked Theoklitos. He turned their season around leading Norwich back to the Premiership within two years. Theoklitos made just the one appearance for Norwich before packing his bags and moving back to Oz where he currently plays for Brisbane Roar. He had a markedly better start there picking up two clean sheets in his first two games.


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