13 memorable goalscoring debuts: Macheda, Rooney, Recoba…

Quick Reads

As a football fan there are few things quite as exciting as the promise of watching a player score on his debut – as Chelsea, Manchester United and Tottenham supporters have experienced over the years.

Whether it be a young player breaking into a first team or a new signing making his debut, there is always an air of mystery about seeing a footballer for the first time.

And here are some players who made the best possible first impression.

Wayne Rooney

After announcing himself with a stunning debut goal for Everton against Arsenal as a 16-year-old, Rooney went even better on his Manchester United bow.

Signed for a world-record fee for a teenager, Rooney justified the hype with an exquisite hat-trick against Fenerbahce in the Champions League.

“We all knew he was good, but this was absolutely frightening,” wrote The Guardian’s Rob Smyth.

READ: ‘I never faced a shot so hard’ – Three GKs on what it’s like to face Wayne Rooney

Alvaro Recoba

All eyes were indeed on an Inter debutant for the first match of the 97-98 season, but it was Ronaldo, rather than Recoba, who was attracting all the attention.

However, with Brescia leading 1-0 at the San Siro, substitute Recoba upstaged the Brazilian with a sublime drive from 30 yards before an equally ridiculous free-kick completed the comeback.

Fabrizio Ravanelli

Middlesbrough’s 96-97 season may have ended in relegation, but it was certainly memorable – not least because of their cosmopolitan squad featuring Ravanelli, Juninho and Emerson.

And ‘The White Feather’ got off to the perfect start with a hat-trick against Liverpool in a thrilling 3-3 draw at the Riverside.

Alan Shearer

The writing was on the wall for the man who would go on to become the top scorer in Premier League history, when, aged just 17, he made his full debut for Southampton.

Arsenal were the visitors at the Dell, and Shearer promptly put them to the sword with three goals, becoming the youngest player to score a hat-trick in England’s top flight.

Federico Macheda

Macheda made one of the most memorable debuts in Premier League history with a stunning 92nd-minute winner for Manchester United against Aston Villa.

Then only 17, the striker came off the bench with United 2-1 down at Old Trafford and, after Cristiano Ronaldo had equalised, produced a wonderful turn and finish at the death to snatch all three points for the hosts.

“My life changed that day and it has never been the same since,” he later told ESPN. “Nobody gave a f*ck who I was before that goal but the day after I would go to the Trafford Centre and have 100 people around me.”

Sergio Aguero

Despite joining Manchester City in a club-record £38million deal, Aguero was on the bench for the first fixture of the 2011-12 season.

Given the final half and hour, the Argentine immediately stole the hearts of City supporters, scoring twice and setting up another in a 4-0 win over Swansea.

Jurgen Klinsmann

A surprise Spurs signing, Klinsmann arrived in England amid plenty of criticism for his reputation as a diver.

And the Germany international quite literally lived up to the billing, celebrating what proved to be the winner in a 4-3 win at Sheffield Wednesday with his famous celebration.

READ: A celebration of Jurgen Klinsmann & a signing that changed English football

Cristiano Ronaldo

Given that, at the time of writing, Ronaldo has now scored 445 goals in 430 appearances for Real Madrid, it should be no surprise that he bagged on his debut for Los Blancos.

After arriving in a world-record £80million move from Manchester United, Ronaldo struck from the spot against Deportivo, and went on to become the first Madrid player to score in his first four La Liga fixtures.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

If there were any remaining doubts, Ibrahimovic confirmed his status as a cartoon character by entering the fray in the LA derby to make his bow for LA Galaxy and promptly score a 40-yard volley.

As if that wasn’t enough, he followed it up with a late winner to cap a comeback from 3-0 down to 4-3 victors.

READ: Revisiting the goal that turned Zlatan the footballer into Zlatan the character

Alan Smith

Smith’s could hardly have been more efficient on his senior debut for Leeds United, coming off the bench at Anfield to score a late equaliser with his first touch – with the Whites going on to win 3-1.

“That goal changed my life,” Smith told FourFourTwo in 2016. “I was meant to be in Israel with England’s Under-18s but it was cancelled because of the political situation.

“I went back to Leeds, someone was injured and I was asked to train with the first team. I was picked in the squad and thought I was going as an extra body. We were getting beat, but I got brought on and bang – I scored. I wanted more of that.”

Mario Stanic

Chelsea fans can be forgiven for struggling to remember much about Stanic’s four-year spell at Stamford Bridge, but his debut certainly sticks in the mind.

READ: Mario Stanić, Chelsea cult hero and scorer of one of THE great debut goals

Anthony Martial

The general consensus after Manchester United signed Martial for a fee worth up to £56million was that the Red Devils had massively overspent on a teenager who had only scored eight league goals the previous season.

Martial, however, made Red Devils supporters forget all those worries in an instant, coming off the bench to turn Martin Skrtel inside out on his way to scoring a brilliant solo goal to clinch victory over fierce rivals Liverpool.

Marcus Rashford

It’s safe to say Rashford has a taste for debuts. The striker has scored on his first Manchester United appearance in the Europa League, Premier League, League Cup and Champions League, plus his debuts for England’s Under-21s and senior side.


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