He has watched from afar as the English Premier League has exploded, with a £5billion TV deal and a cast of millionaire players known around the globe.
But Brian Deane knows he will forever have a place in the annals of football history. Since the Premier League era began in 1992, 25,800 goals have been scored. Legends like Shearer, Owen, Henry, Ronaldo have all netted. And all followed in the footsteps of one man.
“We all knew it was going to be something different," Deane, now 49, remembers.
"We thought you might get five minutes on Match of the Day and a bit more exposure if you do well.”
Instead, his goal five minutes into United's opening day clash against Manchester United at Bramall Lane is now infamous.
The header itself - from Carl Bradshaw's long-throw, after Clayton Blackmore had horribly misjudged his jump - was unspectacular, but no matter. United were up and running. They won that game 2-1, Deane scoring the other from the penalty spot. And as Deane retired with a return of 195 goals from 654 appearances to his name, he will be forever remembered for just one.
“I always used to make a point of trying to score in the first game. You wanted to break the duck really early,” Deane added.
"For as long as the league has the format, I’ll always be the first person. Some people can get sick of it, but most players would like to have been the first to score.”
So much has changed since. The man behind the first Premier League goal arrived at Bramall Lane for a fee of £40,000 from Doncaster.
Paul Pogba, who scored the latest against West Ham on Sunday, cost the Blades' Manchester namesakes £89million.
Swimming in vastly-inflated financial waters meant United were forced to punch above their weight from the outset - their first Premier League team cost around £1m to assemble, £400,000 of which went on Glyn Hodges - and they certainly liked to think outside the box. The matchday programme for their first Premier League game - on August 15, 1992 - featured manager Dave 'Harry' Bassett dressed as Santa, Deane wrapped in tinsel and Brian Gayle in a party hat, waving an inflatable bee.
Bassett, inspired by United's good performances and results around Christmas in the previous two seasons, threw a Christmas party for his players a few days before the start of the season.
"The players thought I had totally lost it when I told them," Bassett remembers.
"I ordered them all to turn up in Christmas gear and, to be fair to them, they all went along with it. We had a Bramall Lane suite decorated, a turkey, a visit from Father Christmas, the lot.”
"That was Harry," Deane added.
"It was good publicity for the club and it was a way of saying, 'Maybe if they think its Christmas, they'll wake up in August'."
Perhaps surprisingly, the historic goal isn't Deane's favourite - a 45-yard lob against Liverpool after Bruce Grobbelaar had gone walkabout taking that honour - and 15 in all represented a successful season for Deane, who finished level with Ian Wright, Matt Le Tissier and Eric Cantona in the goal charts as United finished 14th in the top flight.
Deane was sold to Leeds in June 1993 for a then-club record £2.9m, and United were relegated from the Premier League the following season.
The striker returned to Bramall Lane in 1997 for a spell, and after a relatively nomadic existence with clubs including Middlesbrough, Leicester, West Ham and Sunderland, he pulled on the Blades shirt one last time in the promotion season of 2005/06 before hanging up his boots for good.
"There's so much money in the game and I don't know where it's going," he added recently.
"All of these guys who have contributed to where the Premier League is now, who's looking after their welfare or thinking, 'You're part of this, what can we do?'
"Maybe that's something that the Premier League or PFA should address. It shouldn't be every man for himself because some people get a better hand.
"Footballers by nature are people who want to please - that will never change - it's whether they get the opportunity to contribute."
Deane's only experience in management came in 2012, when he was appointed as head coach of newly promoted Norwegian top-flight side Sarpsborg 08 FF. He left after two years and continues to work outside football, and it is tempting to ponder whether he should be very much inside it still. He is, and forever will be, the scorer of 'that goal' - but has a great deal more to offer.