In this article, Lineker, Shearer & Micah rank the top 10 best Premier League debuts in their latest Match of the Day podcast.
When it comes to this topic, the trio take into account how some players are able to cope with the pressure of a debut significantly better than others – but who has provided us with the most memorable first appearance in the competition?
Last week, they looked at and gave their thoughts on 10 free kicks to have graced the Premier League. See more on that HERE, but for now, we continue our look at debuts…
Danny Rose (Richards: 10th, Shearer: 6th)
Tottenham left-back Rose struck a stunning 30-yard volley past Arsenal goalkeeper Manuel Almunia after 10 minutes on his Premier League debut, as Spurs defeated their north London rivals 2-1 in April 2010 – securing a first league win over the Gunners since 1999.
Richards: Great strike. Thunderous. It’s because he was a midfielder by trade – that’s where he wanted to play. Then I saw him at left-back and saw him strike that, I was like ‘wow’. He was talked about more than Kyle Walker. [The goal] was an absolute rocket.
Shearer: What a strike. It was one of those where you think ‘you’re not? No don’t be stupid. You can’t hit it from there’ but it was a bullet wasn’t it. It was one in a lifetime, I think.
Cristiano Ronaldo (Richards: 6th, Shearer: 10th)
Introduced as a 61st-minute substitute against Bolton Wanderers at Old Trafford for his Premier League debut on the opening day of the 2003-04 season, Portuguese teenager Ronaldo announced his arrival in style with a scintillating performance. Dazzling with his skills, the tricky winger made a real impression after his £12.24m move from Sporting Lisbon. After spells at Real Madrid and Juventus, he returned to United in August 2021, scoring twice against Newcastle United in his first match back.
Shearer: He just didn’t score. I know he announced himself and he was full of tricks and flicks but there was no goal in there. I think if he had scored he would have been a lot higher – and because of what he has gone on to do.
Lineker: His latest debut might have sneaked ahead of this one.
Shearer: Yes, with two goals, albeit with the mistakes by the goalkeeper. Particularly the second one, at 36 years of age to still have the pace to get in between the two defenders and get your shot away is incredible.
Richards: It was because George Best said something along the lines of it was the best debut he had ever seen. If he’s saying that about you, you must have done something right.
James Vaughan (Richards: 9th, Shearer: 8th)
Vaughan remains the youngest goalscorer in Premier League history after his debut goal for Everton against Crystal Palace in April 2005. A product of the Everton academy, the 16-year-old scored his side’s final goal in the 4-0 win three minutes from time after coming on as a 74th-minute substitute.
Lineker: A lot of people possibly won’t remember him. He was 16, the youngest player ever to score on his debut and he is also the youngest player to score in the Premier League. That’s a good start, isn’t it?
Richards: A really good start for him. He wasn’t the most clinical of strikers but he worked really hard. It happened so young but it was injuries that hampered him massively. He could have played in the Premier League for a good amount of time if he didn’t have his injuries.
Shearer: What a tag that is to still have – to still be the youngest player ever to score in the Premier League. Not bad, is it?
Ruud Van Nistelrooy (Richards: 7th, Shearer: 7th)
Dutch striker Van Nistelrooy established himself as a fan favourite at Old Trafford, scoring 150 goals in 219 games for Manchester United after his £19m move from PSV Eindhoven. He got his Premier League account started on his English top-flight debut in August 2001 with two important goals as Sir Alex Ferguson’s side won 3-2 against promoted Fulham.
Shearer: What a player. What a goalscorer. When you sign someone you’d like to think there’s almost a guarantee and I think he was as good a guarantee as you’re going to get in terms of goals. You knew exactly what he was going to do, how he was going to do it and he was phenomenal at doing it. One of the best goalscorers around, I think. He was deadly.
Lineker: His movement was fantastic, he did what you do – gamble on the space – but he was clinical. A really clinical finisher. He was one of those when one-on-one you know he’s going to score.
Paulo Wanchope (Richards: 5th, Shearer: 9th)
Derby County’s £600,000 signing of Costa Rican striker Wanchope appeared great value when he beat several defenders on his way to scoring on his Premier League debut against Manchester United in April 1997. Wanchope, who later played for West Ham and Manchester City, picked up the ball inside Derby’s half and couldn’t be stopped by the United defence before slotting in as the Rams won 3-2 at Old Trafford.
Shearer: It was a brilliant goal wasn’t it, against Manchester United. He’s gone past three or four – the defending was terrible. I thought the goalkeeper should have saved it, I think it bounced over Peter Schmeichel, but the ability to get the ball just inside his half and run and go past three or four – that’s obviously why it’s in there. But it’s ninth for me because I think the keeper should save it.
Richards: Nobody knew about him. They got him from nowhere didn’t they, for £600,000, Costa Rican, and he comes and does that at Old Trafford as well. As debuts go he has got to be up there.
Jurgen Klinsmann (Richards: 4th, Shearer: 5th)
Arriving in the Premier League with a reputation for diving after his move from Monaco, German striker Klinsmann announced himself at Tottenham by heading the winner in a 4-3 thriller against Sheffield Wednesday in August 1994 and celebrated by making light of that criticism by diving to the ground.
Lineker: It was a brilliant debut and the self-deprecation – the fact he was known as a bit of a diver and then he did the dive into the ground – I think it just helped him into the hearts of Tottenham fans and I think fans everywhere appreciated the humour.
Richards: He had the goal, he had the dive, he got stretchered off. It was a debut to remember. I just liked it because of the dive.
Shearer: It wasn’t a bad header, was it? It was a bullet header. An amazing striker and he’s a lovely guy.
Marcus Rashford (Richards: 3rd, Shearer: 4th)
Having scored twice on his Manchester United debut against FC Midtjylland in the Europa League three days earlier, an 18-year-old Rashford scored twice and set up the third as United defeated title-hopefuls Arsenal 3-2 in February 2016. Hailed as a “special talent” by manager Louis van Gaal afterwards, Rashford was given a standing ovation from the Old Trafford crowd when he was replaced in the 80th minute.
Richards: He’s great isn’t he. You look at Rashford, what he has done not just on the pitch but off the pitch as well. The way he handles himself.
Lineker: You could say perhaps he could score a few more. He’s not a natural poacher but I love it when he plays off the left hand side and he starts going at players and makes things happen.
Richards: That’s what I think will be his problem going forward. The talent [for England] is coming through on that left. He doesn’t play regularly as a number nine, it’s difficult. I just hope he manages to nail down a position in the Manchester United squad.
Shearer: There’s pressure wherever you go and certainly when making your debut. Playing for such a huge club, obviously people were aware of this talent coming through and so to do that on his debut is very, very special for someone so young at that size of club.
Sergio Aguero (Richards: 2nd, Shearer: 3rd)
Arriving at Manchester City for a club-record fee of £38m from Atletico Madrid in July 2011, Argentine striker Aguero made an instant impression on his Premier League debut after being introduced as a 60th-minute substitute. The striker scored twice and assisted another as City beat Swansea City 4-0 and he would go on to become the club’s all-time leading goalscorer with 260 goals in 390 games.
Richards: Scored two and an assist – because who set up his first! Aguero’s debut, scoring twice, and he didn’t start the game he came on after 60 odd minutes.
Lineker: Now he’s gone to Barcelona to play with Lionel Messi. I felt a bit sorry for him. I signed for Tottenham because I wanted to play with Chris Waddle and they sold him four weeks later. It’s like someone snatching 15 goals a season out of your pocket.
Alan Shearer (Richards: 8th, Shearer: 1st)
Shearer made a superb start to English football’s Premier League era, scoring twice for Blackburn Rovers on the competition’s opening weekend. Both of Shearer’s excellent strikes came from outside the penalty area but Rovers conceded a 90th-minute equaliser as they were held to a 3-3 draw. He remains the top scorer in Premier League history with 260 goals.
Shearer: Have a look at the two goals. On the first day of the Premier League.
Richards: They are top goals. I have to agree with you. It was more for banter [putting you eighth]. It’s not really a debut, that’s why I didn’t give it you – you’re still playing in the same league it just got rebranded.
Shearer: Worldies they were, both of them. One I took on the left hand side and cut in, from about 25 yards, and then the other was a long ball up that was flicked on to me. I took it on my chest and hit it on the volley from about 28 yards. There was a lot of pressure on me as well.
Lineker: I was in the studio and in the interview he referred to himself as Alan Shearer. In fact that’s why I’m not going to give this one to you. You can’t say ‘this is because Alan Shearer has got to do this’.
Fabrizio Ravanelli (Richards: 1st, Shearer: 2nd)
Debuts don’t get much better than this. Ravanelli scored a hat-trick against Liverpool on his Premier League debut on the opening day of the 1996-97 season, earning his new side a point in a 3-3 draw after arriving from Juventus. The Italian striker scored 16 goals in his first season in the English top-flight, though he was unable to prevent Bryan Robson’s side from suffering relegation.
Richards: Come on, a hat-trick on your debut. If you score a hat-trick on your debut – even if the first was a penalty – you have got to give it to him. That’s a dream debut.
Shearer: I’m not going to argue with that. I understand.
Lineker: You can’t argue with it because I get the deciding vote, and I’m going to go with Ravanelli.