Southampton got their Premier League season off to the worst possible start on Saturday as they lost 3-0 to Burnley, but plenty of fans reserved praise for one of their former heroes.
Billy Sharp made his Premier League debut after a few near misses in previous years and marked the occasion with a late goal as Sheffield United clinched a 1-1 draw against Bournemouth.
The 33-year-old was crucial for Saints in the second half of the 2012/13 campaign when the club sealed their return to the top flight. He formed a strong partnership with Rickie Lambert up front but never got a chance to shine in the most coveted division in world football.
However, he finally made his Premier League bow on Saturday, and it was one to remember. Sharp scrambled home the equaliser for the Blades, sending the travelling fans into ecstasy, and it wasn’t just the Sheffield United faithful who were delighted for the striker.
Several Saints supporters took to Twitter to hail the club’s former forward, highlighting that he is still very much a well-liked figure at St Mary’s Stadium…
Twitter: So much love for Billy Sharp, hope he gets an incredible reception at St Marys this season #SaintsFC (@LHarrisSFC)
Twitter: Billy Sharp scared a Premier League Goal. So happy for him. Especially he was severely doubted by genius #saintsfc… https://t.co/P7QGvEaudB (@Mahmoud_SFC)
Twitter: Chuffed for Billy Sharp! #SaintsFC #sufc (@dan_of_steele)
Twitter: Really hoping Billy Sharp has a terrific season in 36 of the 38 games this season. He deserves it. #saintsfc (@aaronjamesf1)
Twitter: So happy for Billy Sharp scoring in the premier league!
He was treated poorly by our club!
Read Southampton’s verdict
I can only echo the sentiments made by the Saints fans above. It’s fantastic to see Billy Sharp – a real legend of the Football League – getting off the mark in the Premier League.
He was a crucial player for us, albeit in a fleeting period. He scored some important goals under Nigel Adkins and endeared himself to the club’s fan-base almost instantly, particularly with his brace in the 2-2 draw against Portsmouth.
An orthodox poacher and a likeable character, he played a big part in creating so many memorable moments in the Championship, as we bounced back to the Premier League after years away from the top flight.
It would be great to see Sharp fire his boyhood club to safety this season. Let’s just hope he doesn’t get himself on the scoresheet again when we play Sheffield United…