As we all partake in our weekly conference call-style pub quiz nights on various video-sharing websites, our non-sport-enjoying friends will every now and then throw out a cracking football question.
Whether it’s who the first player was to play for Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool and Everton – it’s Peter Beardsley, by the way – it makes us think, ‘the internet is full of insightful football tidbits to explore’. It is, isn’t it?
One such avenue to take is player firsts. Who did what particular feat before anyone else did, and is it actually worth knowing? You know what, yes, it is.
But without being able to trawl through a history book at the local library the size of one of those 790g editions of Kelloggs Corn Flakes, what can we remember from the Premier League era? Or, more honestly, what can the internet tell us did this and that first in the competition?
Here are a few of the most memorable Premier League ‘firsts’.
First Red Card
This honour belongs to a man with God-like status in Sunderland. An Irishman with over 550 career appearances across three English clubs, and with 163 goals to boot; I am talking, of course, about Niall Quinn.
The MBE-awarded striker-turned-coach-turned-pundit-turned-author-turned-chairman/manager started his career out at Arsenal before making the move to City in 1990. A well-liked figure at the club, he was part of the side who embarked on the first season of Premier League football.
However, at Ayresome Park on Wednesday 19 August 1992, he received his marching orders 29 minutes into a 2-0 loss to Middlesbrough. Micky Adams nearly stole this accolade from him, but he was sent off for Southampton an hour later on the same day.
First 10-Game Winning Run in Single Season
In the current climate where the Premier League has been utterly dominated by Liverpool and City, 10-game winning runs are hardly much to be shouted about anymore. We’ve become numb to such achievements since there are two ridiculously good sides making it look painfully easy. Shame on them.
Just to give you some scope of how tough it has been to manage, it took until 1998 forArsenal to do so first, when they achieved it between March and May at the tail end of the 1997/98 campaign. Unsurprisingly they claimed the title that season with two games spare, which is probably why they took their foot off the pedal immediately after and got trounced 4-0 by Liverpool.
This is a question that is sure to pop up during a football quiz at some point during your quarantine. Back in 1992, when Chelsea were a midtable side having been promoted from Division Two four seasons prior, all wasn’t quite as rosy heading into the maiden Premier League campaign.
Sure, they weren’t dreadful, but it took a few manager shake-ups before they began imposing themselves on the league. Their first dismissal of the Premier League-era, and indeed the first the league had seen, was at the expense of Ian Porterfield.
Remarkably, he was the only manager to receive the sack during the inaugural campaign, back in those glorious years where time wasn’t such a rare commodity.
First Own Goal on Premier League Debut
It might sound utterly mad, but this has happened in the Premier League eight times since the competition began. The latest inductee into this cursed Hall of Fame is Issa Diop, who scored an own goal against Arsenal on his West Ham debut back in 2018.
This particular record was started during the debut season back in 1992, with the unfortunate winner this time being Sheffield United’s Josh Pemberton. City were the willing beneficiaries on this occasion, going on to win 2-0.
Lewis Dunk is the only other current top-flight player to be on this list, doing so on his Premier League debut against, believe it or not, City.
First Player to Score 4 Goals in a Game
We all know who scored the first hat-trick, Eric Cantona. We also all know who was the first to score five goals in a single match, Andy Cole. Yeah, cool, boring.
What about that lovely, nifty little number sandwiched in between? You know the number well, I’m sure, it’s the number that John G. Avildsen should have left the Rocky series at before adding in a wholly unnecessary fifth instalment – the Creed films not counting.
This glorious feat belongs to ostriker Efan Ekoku, who netted four times for Norwich during a 5-1 win over Everton on 25 September 1993. He lasted only a handful of games into the following season before Wimbledon snapped him up for £1m.
First All-Foreign Starting XI
This wonderful league is considered as such due to many reasons. The unwavering support, unpredictability and sheer volume of world-class talent being just a few.
Now, as much as it would be great to claim said ‘world-class’ talent all comes from these shores, we all know that is certainly not the case. The lure of this league attracts players in from all across the globe, and starting lineups heavily dominated by non-British players are a distinctly more normal scenario than otherwise.
Of course, without sounding like a bitter war veteran, that wasn’t the case ‘back in the day’. You need to go back to 1999 for the first all-foreign starting lineup, which came on a historic day at the Dell, when Chelsea came to town.
Their lineup that day was: Ed De Goey (Netherlands), Albert Ferrer (Spain), Frank Leboeuf (France), Emerson Thome (Brazil), Dan Petrescu (Romania), Celestine Babyaro (Nigeria), Gus Poyet (Uruguay), Didier Deschamps (France), Roberto Di Matteo (Italy), Gabriele Ambrosetti (Italy), and Tore André Flo (Norway). Oh, and the manager was Gianluca Vialli (Italian).
First Player to Win Title With 2 Different Clubs
In the early stages of the Premier League, Scandinavians were found in most clubs’ squads. These days it’s primarily central Europeans, but there have been some exceptional Swedish, Danish, Icelandic and Norwegians to grace the division.
And in fact, it’s a Norwegian who wrote his name into the record books for becoming the first player to lift the league title with two different sides.
Henning Berg first did so with Blackburn Rovers in their memorable 1995 title win, before repeating the feat with United four seasons later… and then again the year after.
First Player to Score, Assist & Net Own Goal in Same Game
Finishing off this wee list is the first of three players to score at both ends in a single match, and register and assist to cap it off.
Since Kevin Davies managed to do so against Aston Villa for Bolton in 2008, Gareth Bale and Wayne Rooney have joined the record books with their own involvement.
Davies’, though, started things off with an assist for Johan Elmander in the 17th minute, before firing in at the wrong end just before half time. While he amended for his earlier error in the 86th minute, it was a mere consolation, as Bolton slipped to a 4-2 defeat.
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