I scored the first Premier League goal and hold a 28-year Christmas record – fans still talk about it today

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BRIAN DEANE will always be the man who scored the Premier League’s first goal.

But his status as the last man to find the net on Christmas Eve is under threat today as the top flight stages a game on December 24 for the first time in 28 years.

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Brian Deane is the last player to bag a Premier League goal on Christmas EveCredit: PA
He scored past Peter Schmeichel to help Leeds United beat rivals Man Utd 3-1 in 1995

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He scored past Peter Schmeichel to help Leeds United beat rivals Man Utd 3-1 in 1995Credit: PA

Deane was a Sheffield United player when he made history with a header against Manchester United on the opening day of the breakaway top flight in August 1992.

By December 1995 he was at hometown club Leeds and scoring again against bitter rivals United in a famous festive 3-1 win.

Leeds-born Deane said: “Leeds United versus Manchester United is one of the biggest fixtures in the country. 

“On that day, you couldn’t even hear your own team-mates. It was amazing. It was a great game. The tempo was so high.

“It was one of those games that we didn’t feel we could afford to lose. 

“Because I never used to go to watch games as a kid, I never really understood how fierce the rivalry was. I was more focused on playing. 

“Leeds was such a happy place that day and for that festive period. All the fans wanted was a victory over Manchester United. 

“To be able to give them that meant that we had the freedom of the city for at least a week.”

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Chelsea and Wolves fans have slammed the Premier League for moving their game at Molineux to today.

But Deane believes the Wolves players in particular will relish the atmosphere.

He said: “When you’re a footballer you just want to play games. The fact that we were playing Manchester United at home was brilliant. 

“There was a real buzz. It was a big game on Christmas Eve and we loved it.

“I sympathise with the away team and their fans. 

“But if you’re a player, it’s such an advantage to be playing a Christmas fixture at home.”

On that day 28 years ago, the Leeds fans were really up the high noon showdown, too.

Former favourite Eric Cantona, playing at Elland Road for the first time since his ban for kung-fu kicking a Crystal Palace fan earlier in the year, was booed relentlessly.

Gary McAllister took things up a notch by converting an early penalty after Nicky Butt’s handball.

Butt capitalised on a mistake to set up Andrew Cole’s equaliser, then it was time for a bit of Tony Yeboah magic.

Wolves will play host to the first Premier League game on Christmas Eve in 28 years when they face Chelsea today

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Wolves will play host to the first Premier League game on Christmas Eve in 28 years when they face Chelsea todayCredit: Getty

The Ghana striker seized on a Paul Parker mistake, surged past a retreating Steve Bruce and beat Peter Schmeichel to restore the home team’s lead.

Deane said: “Any goal that Tony scored was usually spectacular. 

“The way he moved, the power, to have that as part of your side was such a weapon. 

“He was the cherry on top of that team.”

Another high profile overseas signing had one of his best days for Leeds – Tomas Brolin.

The Swede had arrived from Parma the previous month for a club-record fee of £4.5m and clipped in the lovely cross that Deane headed home in the 71st minute to seal victory.

It was a rare highpoint in two troubled years.

Brolin fell out with boss Howard Wilkinson, and successor George Graham, and after two loan spells was paid off by Leeds.

But Deane has no time for the haters.

He said: “There’s too much ridicule for a player who was such an icon for his country. 

“He didn’t become a professional footballer by mistake.

“If you look at the 1994 World Cup, he was a top player, and you’re talking about people like Romario, Bebeto, Dennis Bergkamp, Roberto Baggio. 

“We as a club maybe failed to get the best out of him.

“The time of year when he came wasn’t great. It would have been a culture shock.

“A lot more consideration is taken these days when you’re talking about players adapting.”

Watching footage of Gary Speed playing his part in Leeds’ Christmas Eve triumph prompts deeper emotions.

It is now more than 12 years since the death of Speed, who also graced the shirts of Newcastle, Everton and Wales.

At this time of year, the premature loss of Speed and of another former Leeds team-mate, David Rocastle, hits harder. 

Deane said: “I’ve been fortunate to have two such exceptional players as team-mates. 

“It was a briiliant time in the club’s history.

“Gary was a great team member. Socially things were different back then. 

“We used to go out for meals together, we’d have a laugh, sometimes we would go clubbing. “That was all part of the camaraderie.

“All the guys these two guys played with, they touched them in a positive way. We miss them. “We don’t get a chance to share the stories and grow old with them.”

The story of Elland Road on Christmas Eve 1995 will never grow old for those who were there.

Deane, now 55, said: “The fans still talk about it. 

“It was a great game, you win at home, early kick off, then you can go and enjoy your Christmas.

“It doesn’t get much better than that, does it?”

Deane is still remembered by Leeds fans for his goal against Man Utd that day

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Deane is still remembered by Leeds fans for his goal against Man Utd that dayCredit: Getty
But it's likely he will lose his status as the last player to score on Christmas Eve as Chelsea take on Wolves today

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But it’s likely he will lose his status as the last player to score on Christmas Eve as Chelsea take on Wolves todayCredit: Getty





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