Premier League history maker Brian Deane looks back at his golden goal
SHEFFIELD, England -- Exactly 25 years later, Brian Deane was back at Bramall Lane, where he scored the first goal in Premier League history.
On Aug. 15 1992, Deane seized upon Alan Cork's flick-on of a long Carl Bradshaw throw and headed in the opening goal of a 2-1 win over Manchester United. He would add a second-half penalty that sealed defeat for Sir Alex Ferguson's team, who ended the season as inaugural champions; Dave Bassett's United finished 14th.
On Tuesday, as part of Play With A Legend, which gives fans the chance to play against their heroes, Deane got reacquainted with the ball from the game, now kept in the Sheffield United museum. He also spoke to ESPN FC.
ESPN FC: How does it feel like to be the answer to such a popular quiz question?
Deane: It's weird, really, because I don't go out of my way to advertise it so it's nice when people recognise it. It's become something quite iconic and something I am proud of. At the time there were lots of good forwards playing: Alan Shearer, Ian Wright, Les Ferdinand; any of them could have scored that goal but it turned out to be me.
ESPN FC: And you scored both goals that day.
Deane: Somebody said to me that it was the first penalty scored as well. It was a great day for the club and we beat a very good team with very good players. A top, top team, who went on to win the league. It showed how much teamwork and effort we could get out of our team. We were willing to work so hard for each other.
ESPN FC: Did you get any reaction from Sir Alex Ferguson?
Deane: No, no, even if he did, I wouldn't remember that now. I don't think he would have been happy that his team lost.
ESPN FC: How about Dave Bassett's side? You were such a difficult team to play against.
Deane: We focused on togetherness. We were always looking for any advantage, be that nutrition, strength conditioning, speed and agility stuff or even psychology. We were way ahead of other teams and we had to be; we had to be creative to compete. We couldn't buy players from Premier League clubs; we bought players from what is now the Championship and below.
ESPN FC: The Sky TV advert of the time said a "whole new ball game" but it was pretty much the same players and managers from the old Football League. But did it still feel different?
Deane: We knew something was changing. We didn't wake up one morning and say "wow;" It happened subtly over time. The thing I could point to and knew was that the advent of live games meant we were going to get more exposure.
ESPN FC: You played for a couple of Yorkshire clubs: Three spells at Sheffield United, two with Leeds. Sheffield Wednesday were also a Premier League club back then, so Yorkshire had a big presence.
Deane: Absolutely. Wednesday were up there, Leeds were up there; we were all top-half teams. I am hoping that Yorkshire clubs are on the way back. The county definitely needs it.
ESPN FC: Huddersfield are now the sole Yorkshire Premier League club. What happened? There have been some tough times.
Deane: I think it was mismanagement and once you drop out of the Premier League, the top players want to play there and you have to change your squad. You are then competing in the division below where everyone wants to beat you. It's very hard to maintain a top level. Once a club doesn't come back up, that's when you run into problems. Sheffield United and Wednesday in League One? And Leeds? These are big clubs. They are all clubs that should hold their own in the Championship and above.
ESPN FC: You later moved to Benfica. Would you encourage players to do that now?
Deane: I always wanted to go abroad. I remember Dave Bassett pulling me in and telling me that in the early 1990s that a delegation from Genoa had come to watch me, and so did Marseille, but nothing came from those. It was always something I wanted to do but I think now the Premier League is the most stable environment, that's where the biggest contracts are so players are not going to move abroad because they have got everything they want here. That, unfortunately, has a negative impact on the national team.
ESPN FC: Do you ever feel envious of the wages that players earn now?
Deane: There's no bitterness among players from back then. We did what we did and we were still earning good money. You could say it has gone too far the other way and people don't understand the value of money but, at the same time, it's supply and demand. The wages are coming from what's being generated from the game. It's not like the Prime Minister has to apportion money from normal people's wages to pay footballers; this is what football generates. You have to respect it if people want to pay that money on wages. It's on their heads, really.
John Brewin is a staff writer for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @JohnBrewinESPN.