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5 debuts that turned into a nightmare

It could only get better from here…

Young Benfica goalkeeper Mile Svilar had a night to forget on his Champions League debut against Manchester United.

The 18-year-old will have dreamed of playing in these big games for years. But he wouldn’t have expected it to go the way it did.

Benfica had largely held United at bay for the opening hour.

Then Marcus Rashford stood over a free-kick wide on the left. Svilar stepped forward to deal with the cross. Unfortunately for the Belgium Under-21 international, the ball went deeper than he expected. He raced back to get his hands on it but could only carry it over the line.

It proved to be the only goal of the game.

Svilar isn’t the first player who’s endured a tough debut. The Coral News Team have taken a look at five more…

Jonathan Woodgate

There’s only one place to start really. Jonathan Woodgate had to wait over a year to make his first appearance for Real Madrid as a result of injury. He finally made his debut in a La Liga game against Athletic Bilbao in September 2005.

The former Leeds United defender went to block a shot in the first-half, only to head the ball into his own net. That was a bad enough start. It was about to get worse. He was sent off after 65 minutes after picking up two yellow cards.

Woodgate only made 13 more appearances for Madrid before joining his hometown club Middlesbrough in 2006.

Ali Dia

Another notable debut for all of the wrong reasons, big things were expected of Ali Dia following his move to Southampton.

Then-Saints manager Graeme Souness received a call that was supposedly from former World Player of the Year George Weah. The caller urged Souness to look at Weah’s cousin Ali Dia, who’d played for Paris Saint-Germain and was a Liberia international.

None of this was true. The caller was actually one of Dia’s friends.

Of course, Souness didn’t know this. He thought he had a bargain on his hands and snapped up Dia.

He was brought on as a substitute in a game against Leeds only days later. But he was so poor he was later taken off in the 2-0 defeat.

Saints legend Matt Le Tissier said: “He ran around the pitch like Bambi on ice; it was very embarrassing to watch.”

Francis Coquelin

Arsenal lost Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri in the summer 2011 transfer window, which meant Francis Coquelin was thrust into a makeshift side to face Manchester United.

The Gunners were torn apart at Old Trafford. Coquelin was hauled off after 62 minutes of the 8-2 defeat.

Speaking about the game, Sir Alex Ferguson later wrote in his autobiography: “Arsenal played a young boy in midfield; Francis Coquelin. He was completely out of his depth.”

The 26-year-old ended up being loaned out to several sides before developing into a useful member of the Arsenal squad.

Emmanuel Frimpong

Emmanuel Frimpong is another Arsenal youth product, though his disastrous debut came at Barnsley.

The controversial midfielder insulted the town on his Twitter account after joining, then made himself more unpopular when he took to the field.

The midfielder was booked after 24 minutes against Sheffield Wednesday. But he didn’t heed his warning. He picked up another yellow and was sent off just five minutes later. Barnsley ended up losing the game 1-0.

Given his start to life at Oakwell, it’s not surprising that it didn’t work out for Frimpong there. The 25-year-old was released after just four months.

Stanley Milton

Here’s a real blast from the past to round things off.

Stanley Milton joined Halifax Town as their number one goalkeeper in 1934. He’d have wanted to put on a good display and keep a clean sheet in his first appearance for his new club.

It did not work out that way. Halifax lost 13-0 to Stockport County, a result that still stands as the joint-highest league defeat in English football history.

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