Shockwaves were sent throughout the footballing world a few weeks ago as PSG acquired Lionel Messi from Barcelona, who joined forces with Sergio Ramos, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Achraf Hakimi, and Gini Wijnaldum at Parc des Princes. And, after days of anticipation, the six-time Ballon d’Or winner will make his hotly awaited debut for the Parisiens against Reims in the Champagne region of France on Sunday.
Messi is set to make his PSG debut today 🤩🇫🇷 pic.twitter.com/6UuRIr3DJD
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) August 29, 2021
While Hakimi and Wijnaldum have featured in each of the first three matches of the new Ligue 1 season, helping Paris to the top of the standings, Messi is among those who are yet to feature in the PSG outfit.
PSG supporters are ecstatic because, whether it’s a youngster breaking into the first squad or a megastar signing like Messi making his debut, there’s always a feeling of excitement when witnessing a footballer for the first time in your favorite team’s colors.
In the light of La Pulga’s debut for PSG, we look back at ten of the most memorable debuts ever seen in the beautiful game.
WAYNE ROONEY VS FENERBAHCE
2004’s summertime must have seemed interminably lengthy for Wayne Rooney. After breaking through onto the international scene, he knew the injury he incurred in England’s European Championships loss to Portugal would keep him sidelined for quite some time.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) September 28, 2018
With his switch from Everton to Manchester United in August, his comeback would be in a new outfit, but uncertainties loomed about how he’d manage his initial significant absence since his breakthrough with the Toffees. However, the audacious English teenager, for whom Manchester United had splashed £25 million, made his presence known at Old Trafford in the most deadly fashion on his first bow for the Red Devils.
15 years ago today, Wayne Rooney scored a hat-trick in his Manchester United debut vs. Fenerbahçe.
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) September 28, 2019
The 18-year-old proved too much for Fenerbahce in the Champions League, tearing the Turkish side in pieces. Rooney dished out an assist and bagged a hat-trick as Alex Ferguson’s side hammered their opponents 6-2. His third goal was the highlight of the night, as he curled home a stunning free-kick, completing his hat-trick and kick-starting his legacy at Manchester United.
ERLING HAALAND VS AUGSBURG
A cyborg born in a lab, Erling Haaland has swiftly established himself as one of the modern game’s superstars since bursting onto the scene as a seventeen-year-old. The physical phenomenon, renowned for his scoring prowess, caused quite a stir in Germany following his debut for Borussia Dortmund.
The Norwegian came off the bench to score a 20-minute hat-trick on his Bundesliga debut as Borussia Dortmund rallied from behind to defeat Augsburg 5-3. In the 56th minute, with Dortmund trailing 3-1, former manager Lucien Favre brought on the 19-year-old to try and rescue his side.
— 433 (@433) January 18, 2021
And it’s safe to say Haaland left his imprint on the encounter. He bagged his first goal three minutes into his debut, added another in the 70th minute, and capped his hat-trick with another, nine minutes later.
SERGIO AGUERO VS SWANSEA CITY
The legends of Sergio Aguero are well written on the walls of the Premier League. Known as the second-highest scorer in Premier League history and a Manchester City legend, the Argentinian striker announced himself to England from the get-go.
As Aguero knelt on the sidelines, prepared to make his debut for The Citizens with his side 1-0 up against Swansea City, he appeared nervous about what was ahead of him. After all of his exploits in Spain, including 100+ goals in domestic and European football and the 2010 Europa League triumph, this was an entirely new assignment.
⏪ 10 years ago today the @premierleague witnessed one of its most spectacular all-time debuts 🎇
— FIFA.com (@FIFAcom) August 15, 2021
However, once he was on the pitch, replacing Nigel de Jong, those nerves seemed to have faded. With 30 minutes remaining, the Argentinian was introduced and scored his first goal for his new team 10 minutes later. He then set up his inseparable soulmate David Silva before capping his dream debut with a spectacular effort in stoppage time.
RONALDO NAZARIO VS ALAVES
Bringing his talents to Real Madrid from Inter Milan after a sensational World Cup campaign that saw Brazil lift the trophy, the 6th of October 2002 marked the beginning of the legend that was Ronaldo in the Spanish capital.
The Brazilian made his debut against Alaves at the Santiago Bernabeu, announcing himself in some fashion as he just needed 60 seconds on the field to score the first of his 104 goals for the Whites.
Throwback to Ronaldo's debut in #RealMadridAlaves! 😍
Real Madrid play Alaves today 🍿
What are your predictions? 🤔 pic.twitter.com/WoixTHGazf
— Bet9ja (@Bet9jaOfficial) November 28, 2020
The Brazilian icon rounded off his dream night with another goal, enthralling the Madridistas in the stands as well as those watching from home, and leaving the field to a standing ovation.
ALVARO RECOBA VS BRESCIA
Alvaro Recoba’s talent, who was loaded with intelligence, powerful kicks, and a lethal left foot, convinced Inter to acquire him in the 1997 summer transfer window. Making his Inter debut on the same day as Ronaldo, of course, all eyes were set on the Brazilian legend.
However, at the end of the game, it was not Ronaldo who earned plaudits, but rather the player with the jersey number 20, a Uruguayan, who drew an ovation from the supporters. Recoba entered the game down 1-0 against Brescia and leveled the scoring with an incredible thunderbolt from 30 yards into the top right corner, before stealing all the limelight with an excellent free-kick into the top left corner from a similar range.
— 90s Football (@90sfootball) March 31, 2019
Two spectacular goals in the final ten minutes to turn the match on its head and taking the spotlight from Ronaldo, it surely was a dream debut for the Uruguayan.
ROMARIO VS REAL SOCIEDAD
After Johan Cruyff’s Dream Team lifted the first European Cup in the club’s history in 1991/92, Barcelona was eliminated in the quarter-finals of the continental competition the following season by CSKA Moscow. The squad was still one of the finest in the world, but there was no option in the center of the Blaugrana attacking line. The Catalans lacked a true number nine.
The advent of Romario in Barcelona in 1993 was the missing component in Cruyff’s machinery and the Brazilian icon made an immediate impact in his new colors against Real Sociedad.
Romario's hat-trick vs Real Sociedad in 1993 was something else! pic.twitter.com/4CkgtrbP1M
— 90s Football (@90sfootball) October 5, 2020
Putting on the Barcelona jersey would be a wonderful experience, but it would also be nerve-racking. However, Romario did not show any signs of nerves and embraced this on his debut in 1993, scoring a stunning hat trick (all three goals assisted by Pep Guardiola) in a brilliant display for the Blaugranas.
CHRISTIAN VIERI VS VERONA
Christian Vieri was acquired by Inter for nearly £32 million in 1999, and the San Siro crowd fell madly in love with their new striker right away. The Italian striker made his Inter debut against Verona in front of a boisterous San Siro audience eager to witness the guy nicknamed “Mr 90 Billion” by the press.
Vieri’s debut match for his new club was a dream start: three goals, all of which were stunning. His first goal was a stroke of brilliance in which he brought the ball down on his chest with his back to goal, pivoted, and struck past the goalkeeper with a precise left-footed shot.
In the second half, the Italian was shortly netted his second of the match, sprinting to the ball ahead of the onrushing goalkeeper and readjusting superbly to pound home from a narrow-angle. Minutes later, he sealed his trifecta of goals by bursting free of the defense and wrong-footing the opposing goalkeeper with a left-footed effort.
ZLATAN IBRAHIMOVIC VS LAFC
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has played football around the world, dazzling the supporters with his brilliance and bagging goals in plenty wherever he took his talents to.
A man who doesn’t need much prodding to grab the headlines required only 19 minutes to cement himself as an MLS icon The Swede made his LA Galaxy debut, coming off the bench in the 71st minute, with his side trailing 3-1.
“I heard the crowd saying ‘We want Zlatan’, so I gave them Zlatan.”
Three years ago today, during the inaugural El Tráfico Derby between LA Galaxy and Los Angeles FC, Ibrahimovic made his debut in the MLS and promptly did *this*:
— These Football Times (@thesefootytimes) March 31, 2021
He immediately netted a stunning goal: a bending, venomous strike over the goalkeeper from 40 yards out. That, of course, was insufficient for the man who heralded his presence in Major League Soccer by informing the media and fans that “the lion is hungry.” He ended up scoring the game-winning goal in extra time as Galaxy defeated LAFC in the very first Los Angeles derby.
PIERRE-EMERICK AUBAMEYANG VS AUGSBURG
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang arrived in the Bundesliga from France in the summer of 2013, and left an instant imprint, bagging a hat-trick in Borussia Dortmund’s 4-0 win over Augsburg on the opening day.
The Gabonese striker showcased his predatory instinct right away, scoring with a diving header, and then went on to double his account with a clinical finish.
Auba finished off his sensational debut by beating the goalie and sliding the ball into an open net, giving Dortmund supporters a glimpse of what was in store for the German heavyweights.
GIANLUIGI BUFFON VS AC MILAN
Traditionally, the offensive players receive all the limelight, but legendary Italian goalie Gianluigi Buffon had a debut for Parma that counts among the finest debuts ever. When Luca Bucci, Parma’s first-choice keeper, injured himself before a Serie A fixture against defending domestic and European champions AC Milan, then-manager Nevio Scala called up a seventeen-year-old Buffon from the youth ranks.
Regardless of his age and inexperience, Buffon produced a calm and collected showing, keeping a clean sheet in a 0-0 stalemate with A.C Milan despite a torrent of efforts on goal. He also wonderfully thwarted Ballon d’Or winners Roberto Baggio and George Weah’s efforts.
🗓 25 years ago today
🧤 Gianluigi Buffon made his Serie A debut for Parma against AC Milan
🦸♂️ 'Superman' has gone on to win 10 league titles with Juventus & became the first recipient of The Best FIFA Men's Goalkeeper Award in 2017#TBT | @juventusfcen | @SerieA_EN pic.twitter.com/OAsYFXxAkr
— FIFA.com (@FIFAcom) November 19, 2020
The teenager would go on to make a handful of appearances for Parma that campaign before taking over as number one the following year, succeeding Bucci. What has happened since then? Buffon’s career has been quite illustrious, with him cementing himself as one of the greatest.