From the Archives: Marian Pahars

Written by  //  February 12, 2012  //  Sport  //  4 Comments

Marian Pahars was in my dreams last night. I have to blame a friend with whom I had earlier in the day gotten talking about the 2003-04 Premier League season, and for some strange reason the conversation veered towards Anders Svensson, and then naturally to Southampton, and to Pahars.

Now, Pahars, back in the day – I am not too old, I’d like to believe, but I still love the phrase – was one of my favorites. I’d say I loved him to bits if only I hadn’t completely forgotten him after he left Southampton in 2006, or maybe after they dropped a division by finished bottom in 2004-05. But thinking back now, it’s easy to remember that he was a gem.

Pahars, as you may or may not know, was little. He wasn’t little like Messi or Xavi, but little enough for his Latvian nationality to make him little – “The Little Latvian” they called him. This was a moniker that as peremptory rule commentators had to use every time he scored a goal. “Pahars is in,” they would scream, “And the Little Latvian has pulled it back for Southampton.” The Little Latvian also happened to be a cheeky little fella’. He once nonchalantly nutmegged the mighty Jaap Stam and scored coolly past Massimo Taibi – “wonderfully well done by the Little Latvian,” the commentator said, on this occasion. He also scored two goals against Everton in a season-ending fixture in 1999 that kept the Saints in the league; the first a calm left footed finish, and the second a stopping header – a brace that firmly entrenched him in Saints folklore.

Pahars was the antithesis of Duncan Ferguson, or Big Dunc, the former Everton centre forward, who happily for me doesn’t often pop up in my dreams. Pahars had a sudden burst of pace (as he showed in this jinky run and finish against Wimbledon), but he was mostly all brain and niftiness – Saints fans, I’m sure will remember his goal against their old enemy, Portsmouth, with much fondness: a lovely curler into the bottom left corner. Wikipedia tells me that he scored only 43 goals for Southampton, but I’d like to believe this is some kind of conspiracy theory. For he always seemed to pop up in the box, unnoticed, and with insouciant grace.

Wikipedia also tells me that he is now the manager at Skonto, a Latvian club that sadly isn’t little. They’ve won the Virsliga – the Latvian Higher League – 14 times since 1992. It’s difficult to imagine, Pahars suited and booted, looking all managerly, screaming at the fourth official, and making Rafa Benitez-like finger drawings, but that’s neither the Pahars that I know, nor the one that I want to know. He is “Oh Lord Marian” to the Saints fans. To me, he is – well you guessed it – The Little Latvian.

Post Script: I’d like to believe, this is the first in a series of posts on sportsmen, from the past, who crop up in random conversations, dreams or otherwise. Maybe the next post will be on Little Kalu or Big Niall Quinn.

About the Author

Suhrith Parthasarathy is a journalist currently living and writing in New York. Suhrith grew up in Chennai, India and studied law at the National University of Juridical Sciences in Kolkata. He practiced as an attorney for two years before giving up the law for journalism. He is presently studying for his masters at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. You can find him on Twitter (@suhrith) or on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/suhrithparthasarathy)

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4 Comments on "From the Archives: Marian Pahars"

  1. Arghya February 12, 2012 at 4:30 pm ·

    Ha ha.. this is one down premier league’s memory lane for me. Nice choice of dream from that Saints team- the only other visuals I can remember apart from Pahars and Svensson are Le Tissier screaming at his team-mates and Strachan screaming even louder at anyone who cared to listen! Had forgotten about this little guy till the post came along! Timely…

  2. Dhananjaya February 20, 2012 at 11:21 am ·

    I remember Pahars of course. Entertaining little player – brings back very nostalgic memories of the Premier League. Always had a soft spot for Southampton, especially The Dell, which was a beautifully set small stadium with a crowd ‘very’ closely packed to the ground. English football atmosphere at its purest.

    You could do a piece on Georgiou Kinkladze next perhaps.

  3. Abinav February 24, 2012 at 3:34 pm ·

    As a Manutd fan reminiscing about the last day of the 98-99 season, it is easy to forget Pahars’ goals against Everton(??) that saved the saints from being relegated. Anyways, I try not to think about Pahars or Southampton – that 3-3 game when he nutmegged Stam and THAT Le Tessier goal still lives too fresh in my memory. If memory serves me right, he assisted Le Tessier’s second goal as well.

    But he was an ‘iffy little player’ as Clive Tyldesley used to describe him. One of the forgotten premier league players of the late 90s and early 00s.

    Hope you don’t dream about Shaun Goater next. (Shudders!!)

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