The Premiership started on 15 August 1992. The first goal was scored by Sheffield United’s Brian Deane against Manchester United, in a match that finished in a 2-1 win for the Blades.
We talked to some of the key people involved on what the goal meant at the time - and the football revolution that followed.
Brian Deane, former Sheffield United, Leeds and England striker: The night before, I was thinking I always seem to score on the first day of the season and I thought it would be nice to score the first goal. It was a 3pm kick-off on a Saturday and it was a header from a throw-in after five minutes. Les Ferdinand, Alan Shearer and Ian Wright were all playing at the time and it’s obviously nice to score the first goal ahead of those guys. It only really became a big deal since I’ve finished playing. Nobody used to mention it.
Graeme Le Saux, winner of the Premiership with Blackburn and former Chelsea, Southampton and England player (now a Premier League analyst for NBC): It was just a name change in our eyes, as players. None of us were aware or had it explained to us what had happened when it became the Premiership. I certainly wasn’t party to any conversation that made me think it was a step change. David James, former Liverpool, Manchester City, Portsmouth and England goalkeeper: For a player, essentially it was just a new Division One with a different title.
What stood out more than the Premiership was the Taylor Report, which made all stadiums all-seater. That resonated more with me than the Premiership starting. That took a few more years.
Andy Gray, former pundit for Sky Sports (now at TalkSport): Suddenly there were two, three and sometimes four games being shown a week on this new Sky Sports channel, and the Premiership’s strength and popularity was growing monthly. David James: Sky were constantly trying to evolve, constantly trying to push the boundaries of traditional TV viewing. As a player, you’d be part of that. All of a sudden, for good or bad, the exposure was much greater and there was a lot more riding on any decision you made. From a keeper’s point of view, if you made a good save it was in super slow-mo, from a reverse angle, whereas previously it would just be the traditional stationary camera in the stand.
There were support programmes and magazine programmes that had to be done and suddenly footballers were being asked to do far more than just turn up and play football. They were asked to contribute to pre-match and post-match and to [background] features. Slowly but surely, they were being turned into something akin to a pop star or a movie star.
Read the extended feature, 'The Premier League: An Oral History' in the September issue of Esquire (out now)
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