When Marian Pahars signed for Southampton on 16th February 1999, he became the first Latvian to feature in the English Premier League. Only four have followed since.
Saints paid £800,000 to Skonto Riga to bring the forward to England’s south coast on the recommendation of then-Latvia national team coach Gary Johnson, who billed him as the Latvian answer to Michael Owen.
The nippy striker went on to score 43 goals in 137 games and secure a special place in the hearts of all Southampton fans before being sold on to Anorthorsis Famagusta in Cyprus in 2006. Such was his impact, Pahars was given a “lap of appreciation” after his final appearance at St Mary’s.
He also left having having turned Manchester United’s Jaap Stam inside-out – a rare feat achieved by very few…
— Premier League (@premierleague) February 16, 2016
As we’re on the subject of footballers from the Baltic states, the first Estonian to play in the Premier League was Mart Poom, who signed for Derby County in 1996. He later went on to play for Sunderland and take up a goalkeeping coach role at Arsenal.
Elsewhere, Lithuania had to wait until 2000 for any representation in the Premier League, when Tomas Danilevicius signed for Arsenal. The big striker made just two appearances, against Sunderland and Charlton, before being shipped off to Dynamo Moscow without a goal to his name.