Here at Shoot! there is nothing we love more than a trip down memory lane to pick out those players who really stood out back in the day, those players whose name bring a tear to the eye of any real fan. But what ever happened to the heroes of yester-year? Well, we’re here to tell you!
This week it is the turn of Southampton’s star striker, Marian Pahars, who arrived on the South Coast from Latvia in 1999 and never looked back.
Pahars joined Southampton for a trial game against Oxford in 1999, in which he scored a perfect hat-trick on the way to a 7-1 win, not a bad way to start.
The Latvian made his Saints debut in April of the same year, away to Coventry, becoming the first from his country to play in the Premier League, before making his home debut off the bench to score the equaliser in a 3-3 draw with Blackburn Rovers.
The striker made a superb start to life in the Premier League, with 13 goals from 33 appearances in his first season in red and white, two against Everton on the last day of the season to keep Saints in the top flight for another year.
The Latvia international went on to score 43 goals in 138 appearances for the South Coast side, with a highlight of his time with the Saints, which spanned the eras at both The Dell and St. Mary’s, being a goal against fierce rivals Portsmouth in a famous 3-0 win in 2003. Quite possibly his best goal for The Saints was back in his first season when, at Old Trafford, he nutmegged the now Reading manager, Jaap Stam, before slotting home on the way to a 3-3 draw.
After the Saints were relegated from the top flight for the first time in 27 years in 2005, Pahars stayed for one season in the Championship before he left and joined Cypriot side, Anorthosis Famagusta for a season, followed by a return to his home country and his former club, Skonto.
He made his debut for the national side in 1996 but did not have nearly as good a record for his country as he did with Southampton, scoring five goals in 39 appearances for Latvia before retiring from national service in 2007.
After a two game spell with fellow Latvian side, Daugava Riga, the striker hung up his boots and looked towards a managerial career, starting back with his old club Skonto as an assistant manager in 2010.
After a year in the backroom staff Pahars took the top job at his club in 2011. In two seasons at the helm he guided his side to Baltic League and Latvian cup victories, before leaving in 2012.
In 2013 he joined the national setup as a the U21 manager, appointed by Aleksandrs Starkovs, to whom he was assistant manager at Skonto. Later that year Starkovs left his role as the national manager and Pahars was given the job.
The former Saints man remains in the role today, and his side opened their qualification campaign for the 2018 World Cup in Russia with a 1-0 win over Andorra.
His playing career after leaving the South Coast may not have been the the most glamorous, however he has enjoyed a strong start to life as a manager as he attempts to earn Latvia World Cup qualification for the first time in the country’s history.
Now you know exactly what happened to the Saints legend thanks to Shoot!, take a look at his best moments in a Southampton shirt!