Do you recall how swiftly English goalkeeper Joe Hart’s official debut for Torino went awry? It was marked by a blunder during a corner kick and a foul leading to a penalty. Undoubtedly, this ranks among the worst debuts in football history. Joe Hart’s misfortune in Italy began even before he stepped onto the pitch, as the club had mistakenly listed his name in the team roster. Debut matches can be challenging for players aiming to impress their new clubs and secure a starting spot, but sometimes these ambitions lead to catastrophic results.
The worst debut matches in history
Jonathan Woodgate’s career pinnacle turned into a nightmare when he joined Real Madrid in 2004. Despite his status as a Newcastle United favorite and an English national team defender, injuries delayed his Real Madrid debut for over a year. When he finally took the field against Athletic Bilbao, it was a disastrous start. Woodgate scored an own goal and received a red card for two disgraceful fouls.
Ali Dia is notorious for one of the biggest scams in football history. Claiming to be George Weah’s cousin and a superstar player, Dia managed to secure a contract with Southampton. However, his lack of talent was glaringly exposed when he made his debut, leading to his swift exit from the club.
Jason Crow’s debut for Arsenal in the League Cup in 1997 lasted just 33 seconds. He committed a brutal foul, earning him the fastest red card in English football history. Crow never played for Arsenal again but did face them 14 years later while playing for Leyton Orient.
Scottish striker Chris Iwelumo’s debut for the Scottish national team at the age of 30 was memorable for the wrong reasons. In a crucial World Cup qualification match against Norway, he missed an open goal from close range, turning from hero to villain in an instant.
Goalkeepers often dream of scoring a goal, but Stanley Milton’s debut for Halifax in 1934 turned into a nightmare. He ventured forward and allowed 13 goals to be scored against him in a single match, Halifax Town’s heaviest defeat ever.
Gaetano Berardi’s debut for Leeds United against Accrington Stanley in 2014 became infamous for a flying kung-fu kick just two minutes into the match. He was shown a straight red card, leaving both sets of fans astonished.
Emmanuel Frimpong’s Arsenal debut was marred by two yellow cards and a red card, leading to his departure from the club. He joined Barnsley, where he received two yellow cards within seven minutes in his debut.
Henrik Larsson, a legendary Swedish striker, initially struggled at Celtic. His debut saw him inadvertently pass the ball to the opposing team, leading to a goal against his own side. However, Larsson later became Celtic’s top scorer.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s debut with AC Milan in 2010 didn’t go as expected. Despite his reputation as a goal-scoring phenom, he missed a penalty in his first match, leading to a defeat against Cesena. He went on to become the top scorer in Serie A that season.
Graeme Souness faced questions about his coaching abilities as a Scottish manager. His debut as a player-manager for Glasgow Rangers in 1986 was marked by brutal tackles, a straight red card for him, and a mass brawl on the pitch.
These debuts serve as reminders of how things can go terribly wrong when players and managers seek to make a strong first impression.