In the Premier League era alone, the Saints have gone marching all the way down to the third tier of English football, found themselves in financial ruin, become a feeder club for the Club World Cup champions, developed the world’s most expensive footballer and signed some bloke purely because he reckoned he was related to George Weah.
Your team is beginning to look like quite the steady ship now, isn’t it?
All of the above feature in our definitive A-Z of Southampton, so without further ado, let’s go…
A is for Ali Dia
Graeme Souness gave Ali Dia - yeah, George Weah's 'cousin' - a game in the Premier League 18 years ago this week pic.twitter.com/tTWdn9Xq5B— Simon Peach (@SimonPeach) November 26, 2014
Ali ‘cousin of former Ballon d’Or winner George Weah’ Dia. Back in 1996, then-Saints boss Graeme Souness had the wool pulled over his eyes by perhaps the most infamous signing in Premier League history.
Somehow, Dia managed to secure himself a one-month deal with Southampton on the basis he was related to ex-Milan star Weah. Needless to say, the move didn’t work out. Dia’s one and only appearance for the club saw him come off the bench against Leeds before being hooked on 85 minutes. Southampton lost the game 2-0 and Dia was released just 14 days into his contract.
B is for Back-to-back promotions
Having dropped out of the Premier League in 2005, the Saints found themselves relegated yet again in 2009, dropping to the third tier of English football for the first time since 1960.
However, the slump was short-lived. In 2011, a Rickie Lambert-inspired Southampton side were promoted to the Championship, they then finished second the following season to secure back-to-back promotions. Their Premier League status has remained in-tact ever since (just).
C is for Charlie Austin
Not so much for his performances in a Saints shirt (which weren’t great to be honest), but more for his VAR rant.
VAR bashing has become the norm these days, but back in 2018 Austin’s outburst in front of the cameras was actually arguing for the inclusion of the technology, having seen his winner against Watford chalked out for offside. The clip was made all the more hilarious when someone decided to dub Blur’s classic ‘Park Life’ into the background.
D is for Danny Ings
After Liverpool decided they’d use Southampton as a hunting ground for their players, it was only fair the Reds gave them one back.
Ings has become the star man at St. Mary’s since his move from Anfield, notching 15 goals in 26 appearances this season. The frontman is sure to add to his sole England cap if he keeps up his form.
E is for Egil Østenstad
One of a number of foreign imports brought to the club by Greame Souness. The Norwegian forward enjoyed a fruitful time on the south coast between 1996-99, scoring 29 goals in 96 appearances.
Attracted interest from big hitters such as Newcastle and Liverpool before eventually moving to Blackburn.
F is for Financial troubles
The club went into administration in April 2009 and a 10-point penalty was imposed. However, with the club’s relegation to League One already confirmed, the points deduction was suspended until the following season, meaning Southampton would begin life in England’s third tier on -10 points.
Despite the penalty, they almost made it to the playoffs, narrowly missing out as they finished seventh.
G is for Gareth Bale
Undoubtedly the jewel in the crown that is the Southampton academy. Bale joined the Saints at just 10 years of age and went on to make 40 appearances for the senior side.
His transfer to Tottenham in 2007 seemed relatively inconspicuous at the time, but six years later they could proudly boast having produced the most expensive player in the world.
H is for Harry Redknapp
Drafted in from local rivals Portsmouth in 2004 with the unenviable task of keeping the club in the Premier League.
However, Redknapp failed to deliver as the club was relegated. ‘Arry remained in charge as the club began life in the Championship, but in an astonishing turn of events, Redknapp and his Range Rover were on their way back to Pompey by December. Harry Houdini indeed.
I is for Instantly recognisable
Red and white stripes have become synonymous with Southampton Football Club. However, despite being founded in 1885, the club didn’t adopt the stripes until 1896, with a whole host of designs being used before then.
J is for James Beattie
Beattie arrived from Blackburn Rovers in a deal which saw Kevin Davies move in the opposite direction. Injuries hampered his spell at the club, but he also enjoyed some great spells, including finishing the 2002/03 season as the top-scoring Englishman on 23 goals.
He was eventually sold to Everton in 2005 for £6m having scored 76 goals in 235 appearances for the club.
K is for Kit controversy
Despite the club becoming renowned for their red and white striped kits since 1896, they have occasionally tried to divert from the design. The most recent attempt to stray away from the stripes was in 2013 when the club released a red kit with white sleeves, a move which was not greeted well by the St. Mary’s faithful.
L is for Le Tissier
Matthew Paul Le Tissier. Where to start with this man.
Affectionately nicknamed Le God by his adoring fans on the south coast, Le Tissier shunned potential further international recognition and silverware by staying loyal to the Saints for nearly all his professional playing career.
Le Tissier lit up The Dell regularly, with his solo effort against Newcastle in 1993 perhaps the pinnacle of his back catalogue of strikes. Eight England caps and no trophies to show for such a talented footballer is perhaps the greatest injustice of the Premier League era.
M is for Mick Channon
Southampton’s record goal scorer. Channon spent 14 years at the Saints over two spells, scoring 228 times. He received 46 England caps and etched his name into Southampton folk law as part of their 1976 FA Cup winning side.
N is for Nigel Adkins
Adkins was appointed Southampton boss in September 2010 with the club in League One. He guided the team to consecutive promotions in his first two years at the club before his shock dismissal in January 2013.
O is for Oxlade-Chamberlain
One of the many fantastic talents to be brought through the Southampton academy. The Ox spent just one season in the senior team, scoring nine goals before being named in the PFA League One Team of the Year. He was snapped up by Arsenal the following season for an initial £12m.
P is for Terry Paine
Southampton’s record appearance holder, turning out for The Saints an astonishing 815 times! The striker scored 183 goals over an 18-year period for the club and was also part of the triumphant England squad at the 1966 World Cup.
Q is for Quids in
Southampton fans won’t thank me for this, but the fact is they’ve become a bit of a feeder club to the top six. Their incredible scouting network along with their academy production line has seen some of England’s top clubs throwing money at them in a bid to prise their top talents away.
Recent exports to the top six include Dejan Lovren, Adam Lallana, Virgil van Dijk, Luke Shaw, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Victor Wanyama, Morgan Schneiderlin and Sadio Mane.
R is for Rickie Lambert
Lambert spearheaded Southampton’s march from League One to the Premier League and proved his doubters wrong by showing he could cut it in England’s top tier. His 117 goals in 235 appearances included 28 goals in his two Premier league seasons at the club, before securing a move to his boyhood club Liverpool.
S is for South coast derby
Every club will tell you their local derby is intense, but this one is very intense. The animosity between these two doesn’t just stop on the terraces, even their chairmen have been known to engage in the odd spat. Back in 2004, then-Portsmouth chairman Milan Mandarić reportedly sent a boxed duck to Southampton chairman Rupert Lowe as a Christmas ‘gift’ following the club’s ‘poaching’ of Harry Redknapp. Tasty.
T is for The Dell
Southampton’s home between 1898-2001. One of England’s great old stadiums before its demolition, The Dell was renowned for its electric atmosphere and hostile features such as the narrow tunnel leading onto the pitch. The site where it used to stand is now a housing development, with all the apartment blocks bearing the names on former Saints players.
U is for Underachievers
For all the talent that has passed through the doors at St. Mary’s and The Dell, Southampton have only tasted FA or League Cup success once in their 134-year history. FA Cup runners-up in 2003 and League Cup runners-up in 2017 is as close as they’ve come since 1976, although Manolo Gabbiadini’s wrongly disallowed goal in the 2017 League Cup final loss to Manchester United could have changed all that.
V is for Virgil van Dijk
Yet another triumph for the Southampton scouting team. For all Liverpool are accused of using St. Mary’s as a poaching ground, Southampton have been doing the same to Celtic in recent years. Van Dijk, Victor Wanyama and Fraser Forster have all made the move over the border in recent years, with the Dutchman becoming the most expensive defender in the world at the time following his £75m move to Anfield.
W is for Woeful Leicester performance
We all remember this one. Southampton’s Premier League existence already seemed to be hanging by a thread in October last year when Brendan Rodgers’ men absolutely dismantled them at St. Mary’s. Hat tricks from Jamie Vardy and Ayoze Pérez saw the Foxes run out 9-0 winners, the joint record win in the Premier League.
X is for eXcuses
Hey, if you can think of a better 'x' then we'd like to hear it.
Back in 1996, Manchester United travelled the Southampton having won 11 of their previous 12 games, seeing them overhaul Newcastle and move to the top of the Premier League. Southampton found themselves flirting with relegation and it looked like an away banker.
However, the Saints found themselves 3-0 up at half-time. Something was amiss, and what did the United players blame? Their kit!
Sporting their grey and white away kit (which in fairness looked like the fuzzy picture you see when a TV isn’t tuned in), United players said they couldn’t see each other and that’s why they were playing so poorly. They emerged in their blue and white third kit for the second-half, but Ryan Giggs’ mere consolation meant they still went down 3-1.
Y is for Young blood
We've already waxed lyrical about the St. Mary’s production line, but it really is worth just admiring the talent they have produced over recent years. Theo Walcott, Gareth Bale, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Luke Shaw, Adam Lallana, Wayne Bridge and Calum Chambers have all gone on to play for top Premier League teams as well as earning international recognition.
Z is for Zoltán Lipták
If you scrolled to the bottom of this list eagerly anticipating what would be the letter Z – I’m sorry.
Signed on loan for the club in February 2009 and only lasted until April. Currently plying his trade Hungary at Gyirmot. Bet you can’t wait to tell your mates about this one, eh?
Source : 90min