A product of Rovers’ Youth system, Brian Deane remains very much ‘one who got away.’ Having been sold to Sheffield United in July 1988 for a fee of only £25,000, crucially with no sell-on clause, Deane went on to be an outstanding performer in the early years of the Premier League. He commanded a fee of £2.9 million when moving from the Blades to Leeds United in June 1993-how Rovers could have used a slice of that- and played three times for the full England team.
Born in Leeds on 7th February 1968, Deane was three days shy of his 18th birthday when he made his senior debut for Rovers in a Third Division fixture against Swansea City. He had already impressed in youth teams under the tutelage of the late Roy Cork and Steve Beaglehole. The tall, powerful centre-forward only became a regular in the second half of the 1986-87 and enjoyed his best season the following term, scoring 10 League goals in 43 appearances. After that season, which saw Rovers relegated to Division Four, he was sold to Sheffield United, where he enjoyed the distinction of scoring the rebranded Premier League’s first goal against Manchester United in August 1992. While with the Blades he won his three England caps, two against New Zealand, one against Spain. As well as Sheffield United and Leeds, he played for Benfica, Middlesbrough, Leicester City, West Ham United, Sunderland and Perth Glory in a career that ran to 2006. Later he managed Norwegian side Sarpsborg 08.
The feeling persists that Rovers should have got more out of Brian Deane, if not matches and goals then at least money. Nevertheless, Rovers can take pride from the fact they launched the career of one of the leading English players of the 1990s.
Rovers Debut: 4th February 1986, Division Three vs. Swansea City (home) Drew 0-0.
Final game: 7th May 1988, Division Three vs. Bristol City (away) Lost 0-1.
Rovers Career: Football League: 66 appearances, 12 goals. All senior games: 76 appearances, 13 goals
Honours with Rovers: Northern Intermediate League Cup Winner 1986-87.