On August 15 1992, the inaugural season of the Premier League kicked off for the very first time - and Sheffield United striker Brian Deane was ready. It took the then 24-year-old Deane just five minutes to put his name down in the history books and score the first ever Premier League goal, a headed effort that soared past Manchester United’s Peter Schmeichel. He later scored a penalty in the same game which gave Sheffield United a 2-1 win over Manchester United, the team who would then go on to win the first ever Premier League title.
Today marks the 25th anniversary of the Premier League - and for all its twists and turns and ups and downs, the league is not only surviving, but thriving in the modern era. To celebrate the league’s silver anniversary, we’ve gone back to Bramall Lane to hear former Sheffield United striker Brian Deane talk about the goal that started it all - his header that went down in history as the first ever Premier League goal.
“It always feels good to be back at Bramall Lane. There’s some really good memories here,” says Brian. “Even when it wasn’t me who was the significant player, we were a very good team unit at times, so it was always good, the fans were always good, they got excited and it was a great place, a fun place.”
‘If I’m honest the actual day is a bit of the blur but watching the goal brings everything back. It was particularly sweet to score after four minutes. At the time, I didn’t really think anything of it. But when I stopped playing people gave me recognition. It is really nice to have something like that which nobody can take away.’
His opening strike against Manchester United is one of the best memories, but he remembers his second goal on the day - the penalty - more clearly. “I had more time to think about what I was going to do, and then I ended up sending the goalie the wrong way.
The Premier League that Deane stepped into in 1992 seems a far cry from the Premier League that we know today. In 1992, Deane recollects that most clubs had got a new kit for the season, a move that was quite significant as the clubs looked to cash in on this time in their history. Sheffield United stepped out in an Umbro shirt with laces that Deane recalls being “quite iconic, but not the sort of shirt you’d want to wear nowadays because it was quite heavy!”
Shirts aside, much more has changed in the Premier League since Deane’s opening goal. Now, “everyone knows about the margins,” says Deane. “There are no advantages now that anyone doesn’t know about. There’s much more money now and players have never been better prepared than they are now. They’ve got everything they need, and they should realise how lucky they are.”
During his playing career, he began at Doncaster and moved to Sheffield United in 1988, where he would score 83 goals in 198 appearances. He later went on to play for Leeds United, Benfica, Middlesbrough, West Ham United, Leeds United, Sunderland, Perth Glory, and also do two further stints for Sheffield United. He scored 195 goals in 653 total club appearances over the years, but 1992 seems to be a year full of goal-scoring memories for Deane.
Another two goals that season also stand out in his memory- when Sheffield United beat Liverpool 2-0 at Bramall Lane with Deane scoring both. But when it came to memorabilia, Deane has to settle for the memories.
“I wish I’d have collected shirts when I was playing. I’ve got one or two shirts, got a few from my Benefica days and Leeds, but I never really kind of kept them. I had a few shirts I swapped with Enzo Scifo when he was at Auxerre and I actually used to just use them in and around the house, and should have kept it in pristine condition but I didn’t. The other one I had was Lilian Thuram’s at Monaco, but I was never a big shirt collector, probably a regret of mine really as it would have been good to be able to hand those kind of things down.”
But what of that Sheffield United shirt that he pulled on 25 years ago today before scoring the goal that fired us into modern football?
“I gave it away! I gave it to a young lad at the end of the season. Just a lad in the crowd and that was it really.”
With that, we return to the present - and Deane is cautious when predicting the fortunes of his previous clubs this season, only two of whom currently reside in the Premier League. He thinks Leicester will do okay this season, but predicts difficult times could still be ahead for West Ham United.
“I felt that the stadium they moved into was a big rock around their neck, and I’m not sure that some of the players actually grew into playing in that stadium, so that’s going to be interesting,” he says, after consideration. He is more optimistic about new West Ham striker Javier Hernandez, saying if the Hammers can get the supply to him, he’ll do well.
There’s clearly potential for many goals in the 25th Premier League season - especially after 31 goals scored in the opening weekend - but even after all that time, few will ever forget that memorable headed effort, scored by Brian 25 years ago.