In Shane Long’s case on Tuesday, he needed just 7.69 seconds, as he charged down a clearance from Watford’s Craig Cathcart before giving Southampton a record-breaking lead at Vicarage Road in their English Premier League match.
For Long, by no means a prolific goalscorer — this was only his ninth goal in his last 84 top flight appearances — it meant an unlikely place in the history books.
The Irishman’s early strike saw him usurp former Tottenham captain Ledley King as the scorer of the Premier League’s fastest ever goal.
King had scored 9.82 seconds into a game against Bradford City the 2000/01 season. Long is the second Southampton player to score inside the opening 15 seconds of a Premier League game; James Beattie took only 13.52 seconds to give the Saints the lead away at Chelsea in the 2004/05 season.
Former Turkey forward Hakan Sukur holds the record for the fastest goal in a World Cup match, a milestone he achieved by netting an opening goal 11 seconds into the third-place playoff against South Korea in 2002.
Meanwhile, Belgium striker Christian Benteke holds the record for the fastest goal scored in a World Cup qualification game; he found the back of Gibraltar’s net just 8.1 seconds into their clash in 2016. Famously, San Marino took the lead against England in a qualifier after 8.3 seconds in 1993, thanks to a goal from Davide Gualtieri.
Russia’s Dmitri Kirichenko hold the equivalent record in the history of the European Championship; he scored 67 seconds into a game at the 2004 tournament against Greece, who would go on to win the competition unexpectedly.
None of them, however, can lay claim to the fastest goal in the history of international football; that gong belongs to Germany icon Lukas Podolski, who scored against Ecuador after just six seconds in 2013.
Long’s goal, however, could not quite guarantee Premier League safety for a Southampton side now managed by Ralph Hasenhuttl. While Long may have scored in the first minute of the game, Watford equalized in the last through Andre Gray.
The 1-1 draw moves Watford back ahead of Everton into seventh place, while Southampton sit 16th — six points ahead of Cardiff City, the current occupier of the final relegation position.