Brian Deane: The story of the first Premier League goal
Watch Sheffield United vs Manchester United live on Sky Sports Premier League from 4pm on Super Sunday; Kick-off 4.30pm.
By Greg Whelan
Last Updated: 23/11/19 8:03pm
In a 20-year professional career with a host of different clubs, Brian Deane scored over 200 senior goals - but he is chiefly remembered for one.
"People come and remind me and it's a good feeling, I'm not going to lie," he says. "Every now and again somebody comes out with a limited edition print and asks me to sign it. And I ask if I can have one!"
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He didn't know it at the time but at 3.05pm on August 15, 1992, Deane made history. The Sheffield United striker's early goal in their opening game of the season against Manchester United was the first to be scored in the Premier League. Their 2-1 win at Bramall Lane that afternoon also kicked off a remarkable, roller-coaster season for the Blades as they fought to retain their place in the domestic game's elite new competition.
Manager Dave Bassett had earned something of a 'Harry Houdini' reputation by keeping United in the old First Division in the two previous seasons. In 1990/91 they even survived despite failing to win a game until just before Christmas.
"Most of the players didn't see themselves playing for the top teams but they were all pulling together," said Bassett. "My job was to make sure that we remained focused and didn't let the setbacks affect us too much."
Lacking the funds to invest in the team Bassett sought different ways to get the most out of his players. Bonding exercises such as paintball games and army assault courses were among his less orthodox methods.
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"We had to find those little percentages that nobody else was thinking about," Deane said. "When we started doing strength conditioning work, nutrition and psychology I don't think there was anybody else doing it because at the time everybody was relying on pure ability."
A more tongue-in-cheek example of United thinking outside the box was to hold their annual Christmas party in August - just days before the start of the first Premier League campaign.
"Our physio Derek French, who was a right character, suggested that we were a team that were much better after Christmas," Bassett recalled. "He said 'why don't we kid the players that Christmas is in August? They won't know any different and we can get started and roar on.'"
Whatever the merits of the pre-season tinsel and turkey, the response in their opening game was positive. After just five minutes Deane had secured his place in the record books, heading Carl Bradshaw's long throw-in past Peter Schmeichel.
"We had already planned what we were going to do in the final third with throw-ins," Deane said. "My job was to get across my defender, which I did. And it worked perfectly."
A second from Deane from the penalty spot proved to be decisive despite Mark Hughes pulling one back for the visitors. To date it is the Blades' only win in six Premier League meetings with Manchester United.
It would be another long, hard season for Sheffield United however. When they lost the return game at Old Trafford six months later they were propping up the table.
"We were bottom and we played Middlesbrough, it was a must-win game," Bassett added. "We won 2-0. There were quite a few teams - Crystal Palace, Nottingham Forest, Ipswich - who were all in that situation as well so it we were in our own little mini league."
An upturn in their league form coincided with an unlikely FA Cup run which took them to Wembley for an all-Sheffield semi-final.
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"Wednesday on the day were better than us," Bassett admitted. "Chris Waddle scored a beautiful free-kick, Alan Cork got us back in it but too many of our players had lived the moment, lived playing at Wembley, and their energy had gone."
The cup run was overshadowed by tragedy. Goalkeeper Mel Rees, signed by Bassett towards the end of the previous season, lost his battle with cancer at the age of 26. His final public appearance had been to walk around the Wembley pitch before the semi-final.
"This was one of our team-mates who was going through this horrific situation," Deane said. "You think that these things don't touch you, but they do. And when you see it's one of your team-mates that's when it really comes home."
Five wins in their final nine games made sure that United stayed in the Premier League for another season. Chris Wilder's team are targeting a similar goal.
"Chris was also managed by Dave Bassett, he'll understand about man-management," says Deane. "Those guys are there because they deserve to be there and if you look at the way they play they have a style which is very hard to play against."
"They're relishing it, you can see it," added Bassett. "It was like the Wimbledon team which came into the top division. Players grow into it and all of a sudden you start to realise - and they realise - that if they're good enough they will survive."
The last time the Blades survived at this level they beat Manchester United.
Is history about to be repeated when they face United on Sunday?
How to follow Sheffield United vs Manchester United
Sheffield United vs Manchester United is live on Renault Super Sunday from 4pm; kick-off 4.30pm. Sky Sports customers can watch in-game clips in the live match blog on the Sky Sports website and app.
Highlights will also be published on the Sky Sports digital platforms and the Sky Sports Football YouTube channel shortly after the final whistle.