The Premier League returned with a resounding bang at the weekend, no more so than at Stoke as Philippe Coutinho unleashed a hammer that left Jack Butland flailing as it ripped into the net.
The diminutive Brazilian added himself to an exclusive club of players who have lit up the opening day of the top flight with an absolute rip snorter. The following men blew off the cobwebs, overcame the rustiness and set the bar, too high in some cases, for the rest of the campaign.
David Beckham v Wimbledon – 1996
Ahhh, the curtains, the checked sleeves and that hit from the halfway line. It was the day that the future England captain became a man as he left Neil Sullivan looking somewhat foolish with his now infamous strike.
It never gets mentioned but Becks has a lot to thank the former Scotland goalkeeper for. Without Sullivan there might not have been any Posh, any England captaincy or any sarongs, cheer Neil.
Zoltan Gera v Liverpool – 2012
Hopes were high at Anfield, with a host of new signings and Brendan Rodgers newly installed at the helm. However, that all evaporated with a wicked flash of Zoltan Gera’s right boot as he rocketed a half-volley beyond the despairing dive of Pepe Reina.
West Brom went on to win the game 3-0 and could even afford to a miss penalty with Steve Clarke getting off to a flyer in the Hawthorns dugout.
Gus Poyet v Sunderland – 1999
No, don’t fear, this isn’t a court case. The future Sunderland boss proved a thorn in the north-east club’s side when he netted a rather delicious volley from an equally scrumptious scoop from Gianfranco Zola, the second of a brace that guided the Pensioners to a 4-0 home win.
Little did he know that over a decade later he would return to save the Black Cats from relegation.
Teddy Sheringham v Liverpool – 1992
Before moving to Tottenham in the first ever Premier League season ‘Ready Steady Teddy’ registered a single goal for Nottingham Forest. That sole strike came in Sky Sports’ first live game and what a strike it was.
The Walthamstow lothario jumped ship to White Hart Lane and went on to score 21 goals as Forest were consigned to relegation.
Remember this guy? So do we, just about. While the Brazilian didn’t exactly have the most memorable of periods at The Emirates, he did score this rasper for the Gunners as they dismantled Everton 6-1 at Goodison.
Amazingly, Arsenal’s most iconic number 15 since Ray Parlour played 96 league games before returning to his native Brazil with Sao Paulo.
Stan Collymore v Sheffield Wednesday – 1995
Liverpool smashed the English transfer record to poach Collymore from Forest in the summer of 1995 and he started repaying that fee instantly as he sauntered round the Sheffield Wednesday defence like Wayne Sleep before nestling one past Kevin Pressman.
He went on to share a 55-goal partnership with Robbie Fowler in his first season, cementing himself in Scouse folklore ‘closing in’ to break thousands of Geordie hearts in the process.
Mario Stanic v West Ham – 2000
As far debuts go, Mario Stanic’s bow at Stamford Bridge was one to remember. The Croatian notched himself a double against West Ham but it was his first that grabbed the headlines. A pearler of a volley with his right foot got Blues fans buzzing with excitement at what he might bring. Unfortunately, it proved to be a false dawn as he made just 59 league appearances in four seasons before retiring with a knee problem.
For a man who claimed not to like football the Cameroon International looked pretty happy with this effort. It was some way to score your first Spurs goal as he directed an arrow into the top left corner of Pepe Reina’s goal. The left back went on to wear odd boots, fetching headbands and sported many an eye-catching haricut. He can now be found in Ligue 1 with Saint-Etienne.
Steven Gerrard v Aston Villa – 2007
Always the man for the big occasion, there was no way Stevie G was not making this list was there? The Liverpool skipper got so much whip and height on this free-kick that even goalkeeping adonis Stuart Taylor couldn’t keep it out.
Oh, and with it being Gerrard it was an 87th minute winner, of course.