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Debuts to forget

Both West Ham and Chelsea brought out their chequebooks in January in a bid to arrest their dismal starts to the season.

The Hammers are paying £2 million with wages for Wayne Bridge's six-month loan deal, while Chelsea broke the British transfer record to sign Fernando Torres from Liverpool.

However, Bridge endured a nightmare start as he played a part in every goal in the 3-0 defeat to Arsenal last month, while Torres only attracted scorn as he was substituted 65 minutes into his debut defeat to Liverpool on Sunday.

Here, ESPNsoccernet selects a list of debuts to forget.

William Carr (England, 1875)

In only the fourth ever international match, England were forced to play with just ten men against Scotland for the first 15 minutes at the Kennington Oval as their new goalkeeper, WH Carr of Owlerton FC, was delayed on the train from Sheffield.

Despite this, there were no goals until Charles Wollaston put England ahead in the 30th minute and the match, played on a greasy surface that severely hindered both teams' dribbling, ended in a 2-2 draw. Unsurprisingly, though, Carr did not represent his country again.

Stanley Milton (Halifax, 1934)

Halifax goalkeeper Milton, who was making his first ever league appearance at the age of 16, was part of the team that suffered what remains the heaviest defeat in the English Football League.

Stockport had been second in the Third Division (North) at the time, with Halifax just three places behind, and a tight encounter was expected. County, though, were two up inside 14 minutes.

Having survived at 2-0 until half-time, Milton conceded eight goals in a 16-minute spell early in the second half, and three more in the final ten minutes left Halifax on the wrong end of a 13-0 defeat, beating the previous record of 12-0 first set during West Brom's victory against Darwen in 1892.

Willie Garner (Celtic, 1981)

Garner, a £60,000 signing from Aberdeen, never recovered from his disastrous start at Parkhead. On a day in which few Scottish fans had bothered to attend games, Celtic had attracted 26,100 fans to a League Cup group round tie against St Mirren by offering discounts to the unemployed. However, Garner did little to secure his own job prospects by scoring two goals at the wrong end in a 3-1 defeat.

The defender, who put the ball into his own net in Celtic's favour while playing for Aberdeen in 1977, then played his final game for the club four days later as he put in another nightmare performance in a 2-0 defeat to St Johnstone in the same competition.

Glenn Keeley (Everton, 1982)

Everton boss Howard Kendall had spoken of the need for defensive improvement ahead of the Merseyside derby at Goodison in November 1982, and he took a gamble by giving on-loan Blackburn centre-back his first start in the game.

The Guardian report noted that Kendall's "faith could hardly have been more spectacularly betrayed". After 37 minutes, Keeley allowed Kenny Dalglish to get away from him, pulled his shirt and was sent off.

Liverpool, five points ahead of Everton before kick-off, went on to record a 5-0 win. Kendall said after the game he "felt sorry for the lad", but the defender would never play for the club again. "I feel I was unfortunate," Keeley told the Liverpool Echo in 2006.

Graeme Souness (Rangers, 1986)

It was perhaps a risk for Rangers to dismiss club legend Jock Wallace and bring in Souness from Sampdoria as player-manager, and fears they had made a major mistake were stoked during his debut performance. With his father watching on in his home city of Edinburgh, Souness lasted just 37 minutes at Hibs before being red-carded and sparking a 21-man brawl.

"I was sitting in the stand and 37 minutes later he was facing me, walking off," Rangers chief executive John Holmes said. "I thought, 'I'd better take a deep breath and start again. My job is to get him in the right frame of mind'."

George McCluskey, the Hibs player on the wrong end of his second bookable offence, was taken to hospital with lacerations on his knee, and Souness collected a four-match ban that ruled him out of his first Old Firm derby. Rangers and Hibs both paid fines and only Hlbs goalkeeper Alan Rough escaped punishment.

"I would like to apologise," Souness said. "No-one can be proud of that. I was suckered into the situation."

Ali Dia (Southampton, 1996)

Perhaps the most ubiquitous footballer in list features, Dia's story is well known: a man purporting to be AC Milan star George Weah called Southampton boss Graeme Souness to recommend 'his cousin'. Souness, who felt Weah's voice was familiar, trusted the caller and signed Dia on a month's contract.

He came on as a substitute for Matt Le Tissier against Leeds only to be substituted again in the second half after what Le Tissier described as a "very, very embarrassing" performance.

"I'm just as much the victim as anyone else," Dia said in 1996. "I do know George Weah. I've got his telephone number in Milan and have met him a couple of times, but I'm certainly not his best mate. I employed an agent when I came to England and it's him who is the conman."

Souness, who released the player a fortnight after he signed, said: "I don't feel I've been duped in the slightest, because that's the way the world is these days."

Dia went on to have a brief spell with Conference side Gateshead.

Jason Crowe (Arsenal, 1997)

Arsenal trainee Crowe made his debut for the club as a substitute in a League Cup tie with Birmingham in 1997 but, after 33 seconds, was sent off for a foul on Martin O'Connor. It remains the fastest dismissal in English football.

Crowe's Arsenal career never recovered. He made only two further cup appearances for the club and, after being offloaded to Portsmouth in 1999, hit out at Arsene Wenger. "The manager's only interested in his first XI," he said. "If you're not in his first XI, you don't really matter. He doesn't look after you."

Lionel Messi (Argentina, 2005)

"It wasn't the way I dreamed it would be," Messi said, with no little understatement, after making his full international debut. Already a player of significant repute, the 18-year-old was introduced as a substitute against Hungary in the 63rd minute and sent off in the 65th.

With Argentina having just gone 2-1 up in the friendly, Messi received possession and attempted to escape the close attentions of Vilmos Vanczak. He wafted his arm in Vanczak's direction, the defender went down theatrically, and referee Markus Merk sent Messi to the dressing room.

Argentina boss Jose Pekerman, who labelled the incident an injustice to football, said he congratulated a tearful Messi after the game "because he went out to play his football". Messi was restored to the side for a World Cup qualifier with Paraguay the following month in a match he considered a "re-debut".

Jonathan Woodgate (Real Madrid, 2005)

Woodgate was voted the worst signing of century in Marca after his £13.4 million move from Newcastle to Real Madrid.

Suffering injury problems when he arrived, he spent over a year on the sidelines after joining the club. Ahead of his debut in September 2005, team-mate Beckham said: "He's certainly ready." He was not.

In front of 75,000 fans at the Bernabeu, he scored a spectacular own-goal against Athletic Bilbao before getting sent off. "I think he was one of the best players up until he got sent off," Beckham said by way of consolation, with Madrid having secured a 3-1 win.

Woodgate, who said his "head was spinning" after the fans generously applauded him as he left the field, felt his red card had been a little harsh. "In this league, they go down easily," he said. "You're not up against big strikers who stay on their feet."

Injury problems continued to hamper his stay and, the following season, he joined Middlesbrough.

Ade Akinbiyi (Burnley, 2005)

Akinbiyi lasted just two minutes of his Burnley debut after he elbowed and attempted to headbutt Sunderland's George McCartney.

"When he's out there he tries to do everything and he does that," boss Steve Cotterill said afterwards. "I think I can safely say Ade's Burnley career will get better from here on."

Mick McCarthy, toasting a 2-0 win that took Sunderland top of the Championship, was able to enjoy a joke at Akinbiyi's expense after the final whistle: "Perhaps he should have headed the ball when he had the chance as well as he headed George."

Mauricio Baldivieso (Aurora, 2009)

Baldivieso said he was "the happiest man in the world" after becoming the youngest player to take part in a professional game at the age of 12, but the decision to field him was to end in tears.

Aurora boss Julio Cesar Baldivieso - his father and a former Bolivia international - brought the boy on as a late substitute to celebrate his upcoming 13th birthday.

The game itself did not go exactly as planned, as Aurora lost 1-0 to La Paz. "My dad told me that he would let me have my debut if we were winning," Baldivieso Jnr said. "Things didn't turn out that way but he let me play anyway."

The youngster was hacked on the ankles from behind by La Paz defender Henry Alaca, resulting in a brawl between the teams and a young boy squealing in pain. "I want to clarify that I did not cry when I was fouled," the player said. "Some people said that I cried, but that's a lie and they're just jealous."

Physio Raul Alberto Morales registered a more serious concern, pointing out that, as his bones would not have fully developed at that age, playing him was "compromising his sporting future for life".

His solitary appearance was to have harsh consequences for father and son. Aurora officials were less than amused that the manager had fielded a juvenile and, four days after the game, Julio and Mauricio left the club.

"That's life," Julio said. "People are jealous and I think that Mauricio's crime was to attract the attention of the world. I'm not going to be told whether I play someone from my family or not."

Mauricio is yet to sign for another club.


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