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On this day: Southampton sign Premier League's first Latvian

Sixteen years ago today, Latvian striker Marian Pahars secured a move to Premier League side Southampton.

In total, five Latvians have tried their luck in the Premier League since its formation back in 1992.

Four of those - Imants Bleidelis, Igors Stepanovs, Andrejs Stolcers and Kaspars Gorkss - all struggled to make a memorable impact during their relatively short stints in England's top flights.

However, there was one player from the Eastern European nation that was able to make a lasting impression - Marian Pahars.

Not much was known of the little centre-forward when he was signed by Southampton for £800,000 from Skonto 16 years ago today.

But, by the time that he had departed, Pahars had ensured that he would remain a popular figure down on the South Coast for many years to come.

Due to work permit complications, the striker was prevented from pulling on a Southampton shirt until several weeks after his arrival.

Yet, it was worth the wait because on his home debut at The Dell, Pahars came off the bench to score a late equaliser that earned his new side a 3-3 draw against Blackburn Rovers.

The following campaign he was the club's leading goalscorer, having found the net on 13 occasions in the Premier League, and that was accompanied by nine more goals during the 2000-01 season.

The next term would be Pahars's most prolific, with 16 goals being scored in all competitions. His second-half strike against Charlton Athletic in November 2001 secured Southampton's first ever official victory in their new St Mary's Stadium.

It was after that particular season that injuries started to take hold. Appearances were limited, although there was at least one bright moment when Pahars found the net against bitter rivals Portsmouth, who were defeated 3-0.

Those fitness problems eventually resulted in a parting of ways, though, when in the summer of 2006, Southampton, who were now in the Championship, announced that they would not be renewing the frontman's contract.

In total, Pahars made 137 Premier League appearances, from which he scored 43 goals.

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Ruud van Nistelrooy celebrates scoring for Manchester United against Blackburn Rovers on February 01, 2005.
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TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
CManchester CityMan City38322495237298
2Liverpool38307189226797
3Chelsea38219863392472
4Tottenham HotspurSpurs382321367392871
5Arsenal382171073512270
6Manchester UnitedMan Utd381991065541166
7Wolverhampton WanderersWolves38169134746157
8Everton38159145446854
9Leicester CityLeicester38157165148352
10West Ham UnitedWest Ham38157165255-352
11Watford38148165259-750
12Crystal Palace38147175153-249
13Newcastle UnitedNewcastle38129174248-645
14Bournemouth38136195670-1445
15Burnley38117204568-2340
16Southampton38912174565-2039
17Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton3899203560-2536
RCardiff CityCardiff38104243469-3534
RFulham3875263481-4726
RHuddersfield TownHuddersfield3837282276-5416

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