Southampton FC hoped for Marians Pahars 2.0 but they didn't get it: View | OneFootball

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Football League World

·29 November 2023

Southampton FC hoped for Marians Pahars 2.0 but they didn't get it: View

Article image:Southampton FC hoped for Marians Pahars 2.0 but they didn't get it: View

Latvian international Marians Pahars is a cult-hero at St Mary's thanks to his performances for Southampton between 1999 and 2006.

The striker joined the South Coast club in February 1999 on trial from Latvian club Skonto and made an immediate impact for the Saints after scoring a perfect hat-trick in a reserve team game against Oxford United, which doubled up as his trial at the club.

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The club decided to sign him in March 1999, and he subsequently became the first Latvian player to play in the Premier League. He made an immediate impact, scoring a crucial equaliser on his home debut against Blackburn Rovers as the club fought to retain their Premier League status. Pahars' cult-hero status was secured just months after arriving when he scored twice in a 2-0 win against Everton which secured the Saints' Premier League status.

It wasn't long before Parhars was joined by his international teammate and former Skonto clubmate Imants Bleidelis on the South Coast. Southampton had been so impressed with Parhars that they decided to dip back into the Latvian market to bring Bieldelis to The Dell.

According to SaintsPlayers, the club had tried sign midfielder Bieldelis at the same time as Pahars but had lacked the finance to do so which meant they had to wait until the Decemeber of 1999 to complete the signing.

How did Imants Bleidelis perform for Southampton FC?

When trying to justify his signing, Southampton boss Dave Jones described Bleidelis as a player of a similar quality to Pahars, and his international teammate Pahars described him as a "very skillful international colleague with more caps than myself", according to SaintsPlayers.

The club made their case to the Premier League for a work permit saying that he was a skillful right-winger who would immediately be an asset to a struggling Premier League side. Two of the deciding panel felt that he would not make a sufficient impact on the English game and would instead act as a squad player rather than a key player for the Saints.

However, the rest of the panel were convinced he was a player of high quality and approved his signing, joining for a fee of £650,000, according to the Basingstoke Gazette.

However, Bleidelis didn't quite enjoy the same success at the club as his counterpart would for a number of reasons. By the time his work permit had been approved, manager Dave Jones had been placed on gardening leave and replaced by Glen Hoddle.

This meant he found game time extremely hard to come by and he was actually substituted after coming on a substitute in a game away to Tranmere Rovers. He'd make just two league appearances for the club and was allowed to leave to go on trial with Danish club Viborg FF in January 2003. The trial was successful and Bleidelis would depart the club after a disappointing few years.

What happened to Imants Bleidelis after leaving Southampton FC?

He'd spend two years in the Danish SuperLiga with Viborg before joining Austrian outfit Grazer AK in 2005.

A season in Austria would precede a move back to his homeland where he featured for clubs such as FK Jurmala and Liepājas Metalurgs before retiring in 2008.

In total, he made 106 appearances for the Latvian national side, 31 more than Pahars, and played for the side during the Euro 2004 tournament in Portugal, where Latvia were eliminated in the group stage after picking up just one point.

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