Journeyman: A worker or sports player who is reliable but not outstanding
We’ve been on quite the journey, you and I. 10 Weeks ago, I gave you a man who I felt was a journeyman. Marcus Bent is the archetypal Journeyman, who had played for just about everyone without making anywhere a home for any great period of time. As winter turned to spring and Sunderland’s relegation fight went from hopeful to a lost cause, I now bring you the final piece of the journeyman jigsaw. So who will be the icing on this particularly average cake?
Well, let me give you a recipe. He played for four Premier League Clubs, got 3 caps for his country and scored the first ever Premier League goal. Add in a spell at Benfica and numerous second-tier clubs and you’ve got yourself a hero. Step forward, Brian Deane.
Deane was already in full flow at Sheffield United when the Premier League began in 1992, but it didn’t take him long to make an impact in the future “best league in the world.” Not satisfied with scoring the first ever Premier League goal with a header after 5 minutes, he went on to net a second-half penalty in a 2-1 win over Manchester United. One of those clubs will go on to do slightly better than the other. Fear not though, if you want to re-live that glorious day then YouTube has got you covered:
Deane’s first season in the Premier League was a big success, as he netted 19 times in all competitions as the Blades finished a respectable 14th and reached an FA Cup semi-final. Actually, before I move on, and I don’t want to turn this into a clips fest, but LOOK AT THIS GOAL (1:16 onwards) from the previous season.
Anyway, Big Bri was attracting some attention, having already played three times for his country it was only a matter of time before the elite came calling. Leeds United had been long time admirers of Deane’s abilities, and eventually paid Sheffield United £2.9m for Deane’s services in June 1993.
Leeding the Revival
Leeds United were First Division Champions (the top tier at the time) in 1992, but after a disastrous inaugural Premier League season (finishing 17th) it was time to try and spark a revival. There is no greater spark than Brian Deane. Forming a dangerous partnership with Rod Wallace, Leeds stormed to a fifth-place finish. This was followed up by another 5th place finish in 1994/95, though Deane found himself with a new strike partner from January as Tony Yeboah arrived for £3.4m. Although Yeboah finished top scorer despite giving the others a 6-month head start, Deane still weighed in with 10 goals. That 5th placed finish meant European football for Leeds in the 1995/96 season – a remarkable season where Deane would make 50 appearances, scoring 10 goals.
Although Leeds’ European run was fairly short lived – going out in the second round to PSV – it was the domestic cups where Leeds really impressed. An FA Cup quarter-final run was good, but their appearance in the 1996 League Cup final was the highlight of the season. Deane however was just a substitute for the final, appearing at half time with his side trailing 1-0. They went on to lose 3-0 (probably coincidentally). Leeds’ league form however had deteriorated to a 13th place finish, and after a bad start to 1996/97, manager Howard Wilkinson was dismissed and replaced by George Graham.
Did it help? Not really. Leeds finished 11th, Deane being their joint top goal scorer in the league with a massive 5 goals. Lee Sharpe and Ian Rush had joined Deane in the attacking ranks whilst Tony Yeboah battled back from a long-term injury. Graham opted to purchase Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and with that, Deane departed back to Sheffield United.
Deane only returned to Sheffield United for one season as he attempted to help them out of the second tier back to the Premier League. His ten league goals helped them reach the playoffs via a 6th placed finish but they were defeated by Sunderland, and Deane was on the move again. A short and somewhat pointless paragraph but I couldn’t turn down the pun opportunity. Anyway, where could our man go now?
Having dropped out of the Premier League you would have got long odds on Deane’s next move being to Benfica, but put a mad man like Graeme Souness in charge of the Portuguese giants and those odds shorten somewhat. Souness took the job in November 1997 and by January 1998, Brian Deane was up front with Nuno Gomes. Deane became an almost instant hit, scoring in the 4-1 away win over Sporting Lisbon before opening the scoring in a 3-0 win over Porto, as Benfica finished 2nd and secured Champions League football. Deane scored seven times in total during his first season, before scoring in the Champions League qualifier at the start of the 1998/99 season.
However, in October 1998 Deane was sold to Middlesbrough for £3m, meaning he had trebled in value for his spell in Portugal. Souness underlined his questionable recruitment policy by signing Dean Saunders as a replacement.
It would be churlish not to see some of Deane’s work whilst at one of Europe’s biggest clubs, so here is the aforementioned Porto game.
Deane was solid if unspectacular during his time at Middlesbrough, helping the Teesiders to 9th, 12th and 14th placed finishes under the guidance of Bryan Robson. Deane’s pitch time became less with every passing season, so it was not too surprising when Deane was allowed to join struggling Leicester City in November 2001. Leicester were managed by Dave Bassett, who had managed Deane at Sheffield United about 800 words ago. Deane did finish as Leicester’s top league goal scorer, but as that was with a massive 6 goals, it wasn’t much to shout about as the Foxes finished 20th and were relegated.
Deane then went on to have a spell in the First Division with West Ham, losing in the playoff final, before moving to Leeds for the 04/05 season. Although a fairly poor season, he did take the time to score four goals in a 6-1 mauling of QPR.
After a 3 month spell at Sunderland in 2004/05 where he helped them achieve promotion back to the top-flight, he would move to Perth Glory in Australia before finishing his career with a couple of substitute appearances for Sheffield United. In retirement, Deane has gone on to manage. In Norway. He left his most recent job in November 2014.
What a guy though. There aren’t many players who can say they moved to a giant like Benfica and made an instant impact, but Deane had a long and distinguished career where he was nearly always first choice. For that, we cannot possibly leave him out of the Journeyman XI. Welcome Brian, we’ll get it in the mixer for you.