Thursday 22 December 2011
History can venerate the most unlikely of individuals, prolonging their names well beyond their final years for future generations to preserve their groundbreaking achievements.
Marc Albrighton earned himself a place in history by scoring the 20,000th Barclays Premier League goal - and he takes his place in football history alongside Brian Deane, the scorer of the first-ever goal nearly 20 years ago.
On Saturday 15 August, 1992, at about 3.05pm, the striker put Sheffield United 1-0 up against Manchester United with an instinctive header at Bramall Lane. The goal, Deane admits, would not be found in the top-five stylish finishes of his career, but its gravitas transcends any form of beauty.
"Whatever happens, that will be the one moment fans all over the world will remember me for"
- Brian Deane
"Whatever happens, wherever I am, that will be the one moment fans all over the world will remember me for," Deane told premierleague.com ahead of Albrighton becoming the 20,000th goalscorer.
"It was a fantastic feeling and even to this day people remind me of it - and it's now a classic quiz question too."
It all started when Blades goalkeeper Simon Tracey cleared a back-pass - then only recently outlawed by FIFA - deep into Manchester United territory, with United defender Gary Pallister heading the ball out for a throw-in.
"We had a throw-in at the Kop End (at Bramall Lane), Carl Bradshaw took a long throw aiming for Alan Cork at the near post," remembered Deane, who also played for Leeds, Middlesbrough and Leicester City during his 12 seasons in the League.
"He flicked a header on and I managed to get myself between Steve Bruce and Pallister to nod the ball past Peter Schmeichel.
"They were no mugs those three, all great players. That made it extra special because that goal was against one of the top teams in the country and in Europe."
With the home support in raptures, Deane's attention quickly switched to the other eight fixtures around the country to find out whether anyone had surpassed his early marker.
"I got word that David Hirst had scored for Sheffield Wednesday early on, but then the news filtered through that I had scored before him," said Deane, who added a second goal to help the Blades to a 2-1 home win against United, the inaugural Premier League champions.
"I knew I was going to be close because of the time I scored the goal but to realise I was the first ever to score in the new Premier League, well, it took a while to sink in."
"To realise I was the first ever to score in the new Premier League, well, it took a while to sink in"
- Brian Deane
The competition has evolved every season since its inception, becoming the most-watched football league in the world because of its open, attacking style.
The 2011/12 season has seen a glut of goals, averaging 2.96 per match, a factor which Deane attributes to world-class creative players like David Silva and Luka Modric rather than a drop in quality defending.
"When the likes of myself, Les Ferdinand, Alan Shearer and Ian Wright were playing, there were some great defenders around like Tony Adams, Martin Keown and Dave Watson as well as Bruce and Pallister, who were all at the peak of their powers," he said.
"Defending back in those days was an art. But now people want to see goals and teams are looking to win rather than closing results out. It makes for a better spectacle and more chances.
"The product itself has evolved again to be the best in the world."
However, the Yorkshireman is confident he would still have scored with regularity if he was able to play in the current Barclays Premier League competition.
"In that first season in 1992/93 I scored 15 goals, all different types of goals, so I don't think I would have a problem," added Deane, who scored 71 goals during his time in the Premier League.
"With the type of science involved in training at the moment, I would have evolved with the developments. I don't think the quality is too different, but the one huge change in that time has been the attitude to training."