Top 5 Debuts in European League of Football History

An incredible debut performance is one of the most captivating events in all of football. The European League of Football has already had its fair share of these events in the 2023 season. In fact, in ELF history we have seen numerous performances from previously unknown, underestimated or written-off players. Rules are simple as always, debut performances for their respective teams. Week one is heavily featured because nearly every player is making a debut, it’s unavoidable.

Let’s get straight into it.

Madre London – Cologne Centurions – June 19, 2021 vs Wroclaw Panthers

Madre London escaping Barcelona Dragons defenders Photo: Cologne Centurions

258 Rushing Yards – 3 Touchdowns – 15.18 Yards Per Carry

Realistically who else was it going to be? Madre London is one of the best, if not the best, players to ever play in the ELF. He had many performances that are shocking to look back on. In fact, this game against Wroclaw was only his 5th highest yardage game in the 2021 season and in the history of the league. His debut 258-yard output on only 17 carries is likely to remain the highest by any player making a debut for a very long time. It is also the highest YPC for any player who has had more than 10 attempts. This could be considered to be one of the many unbreakable records that London possesses.

Matt Vitale – Wroclaw Panthers – June 3, 2023 vs Hamburg Sea Devils

Photo: Lukasz Skwiot

341 Yards – 4 Touchdowns – 68.18% Completion – 150.57 QBR

Cast your mind back to the start of the season. The Wroclaw Panthers cut both of their American players just before the first week and signed an extremely unproven QB in Matt Vitale. In a game most expected to be a difficult start, Vitale had to prove himself against the former two-time title contenders in the Sea Devils. He put up 341 yards with 4 touchdowns, didn’t throw a single interception while completing 68.18% of his passes. He showed all levels of his game, and his long scores to wideout Tony Tate were a taste of what was soon to be expected from the Polish playoff contenders. Tate himself had 175 yards and 3 touchdowns on 4 catches. The only reason he isn’t on this list is because the expectations of Matty Ice were a lot lower. This win aged incredibly well given the players on the Hamburg defense that have been quality this season and this flipped the narrative that the Panthers had made some questionable decisions.

Silas Nacita – Helvetic Guards – June 3, 2023 vs Barcelona Dragons

Photo: Lars Kauz

215 Total Yards – 1 Touchdown – 27 Touches

Silas’ debut performance was a look into what he has continued to do this season for the Helvetic Guards. He is the heart and soul of that whole team. Without him, it would be a dire season in Switzerland. His arrival after his brief time with the Danube Dragons in the Austrian Football League was expected to be special, some media members even had him carrying the Guards to the playoffs. In his opening game, he showed his proficiency in the passing attack, 166 of his 215 yards came on receptions. The next closest Guard was over 100 yards away from his production. It was a narrow defeat to the Dragons, but Nacita was everywhere in that game.

Christian Strong – Raiders Tirol – June 4, 2023 vs Munich Ravens

Photo: Raiders Tirol

386 Yards – 6 Touchdowns – 80% Completion – 158.3 QBR

The Raiders at the start of the season came out firing in a shootout vs the Munich Ravens in week one. Strong put up 6 touchdowns and 386 yards at an 80% clip and lead the team to a 59-38 win in one of the best performances of the year, and he did it in his debut. The offence was fluid and creative, like the Vitale and Tate situation, McClam certainly deserves a mention but as he was a star on the Cologne Crocodiles it wasn’t seen as a surprise. This game remained his career-high in every category as a quarterback and although he is no longer on the Raiders, this most likely isn’t the last we will see of Strong in the ELF given his performances.

Devan Burrell – Milano Seamen – July 23, 2023 vs Helvetic Guards

Devan Burrell vs Stuttgart Surge, July 29. Photo: Sergio Bisi

5 Tackles – 1 Interception – 1 Pass Break Up – 192 Kick Return Yards – 1 Return Touchdown

A debut cannot start better than Burrell’s in week 8 for the Milano Seamen following his move from the Leipzig Kings. The game’s first kick-off was returned for a 98-yard touchdown by Burrell on his first touch of the ball. Burrell is well known for his exploits on special teams from his time with the Kings, but not many people had him taking it to the house with his first opportunity. However, he expanded on this with his 4th quarter interception with 50 seconds left on the clock to set the Milano offense up for the score. Although they didn’t finish the game with a win, Burrell did his part on defense and special teams.

In summary…

It could be called recency bias to have so many 2023 inclusions in this list. Perhaps that is true, or it could be a testament to how many more exciting players we have had an opportunity to watch this season. Either way, these players did start on the right foot, and they’ve all become stars in their respective seasons. 2022 had a lot of good performances but it could be considered a transitional season, 2021 had the early stars, 2023 had the influx of talent and even more teams so many of the records were broken from 2022. Until next time.

Honorable Mentions:

Wael Nasri – Berlin Thunder – 2021

Markell Castle – Munich Ravens – 2023

Lukas O’Connor – Wroclaw Panthers – 2021

A.J Wentland – Leipzig Kings – 2022