Exactly 20 years ago today a Leicester Tigers legend was born as Geordan Murphy made his first-team debut for the club.
After coming through a three-week trial alongside fellow Irishman James Ferris, Murphy was given his first senior outing in a cup tie against Rotherham on a Friday evening at Welford Road on November 14, 1997.
“Twenty years ago? Scary isn’t it?” says Murphy, now on the coaching staff at Tigers.
“We came over for a trial and when I had the offer of a contract I had to go home and speak to my parents. They were keen to let me pursue a dream so I came back and started playing in September-October time with the development teams, then the seconds and then in the first team.
“I’d played five games for the second team when I got to play in the cup, which was a bit of a development tournament, like the Anglo-Welsh competition now.”
Murphy’s senior team-mates on the day included John Wells, Joel Stransky, Perry Freshwater and Dorian West as Tigers enjoyed a 60-19 win in the Cheltenham & Gloucester Cup.
A crowd of just 3,860 witnessed his debut, though he rose to hero status with many thousands more as he collected eight Premiership titles and two European Cup over 16 seasons as a Tigers player as well as 72 Tests for Ireland and selection for the British & Irish Lions.
In the programme pages for that debut fixture, director of coaching Duncan Hall, who worked alongside director of coaching Bob Dwyer, wrote: “As we have nine of our first-team squad out on international duty this weekend, the opportunity if there for the younger players to take the field with the likes of Fritz van Heerden and Joel Stransky in a real competition match.
“We have three players new to the team with young Irishman Geordan Murphy playing at full-back who is a raw but exciting talent and we are looking for him to blossom in first-team company.”
Geordan Murphy turns back the clock to his early days at Leicester in an interview in the matchday programme this Sunday as Tigers host Sale Sharks at Welford Road. The 100-page programme is available around the stadium, price £3. Match tickets are available now.