The Yorkshire-born defender, a lifelong Doncaster fan, started the game at the Keepmoat Stadium on the bench before making his much anticipated entrance in the 65th minute.
Rovers' reserve games usually attract crowds of 100, but fans of the boy band star, mostly teenage girls, swelled the gate to unprecedented numbers. The Independent newspaper put the figure at 5,333.
— 1D Updates (@1DMofosUpdates) February 27, 2014
The BBC reported that fans had travelled from as far afield as Denmark, France, Italy and the US to watch Tomlinson take his bow as a Doncaster player, having joined the Championship side on a non-contract basis in August.
The Guardian talked to two fans who had spent £900 for a 13-hour flight from Mexico so they could watch the match.
— Yara (@YaraArtist) February 26, 2014
The 22-year-old's debut had been delayed until now after he picked up an injury in a charity match soon after signing with Rovers.
Wow what an incredible experience . Can't put into words how I feel :) I will never forget pulling on my own Doncaster Rovers shirt !! — Louis Tomlinson (@Louis_Tomlinson) February 26, 2014
Proceeds from the Final Third Development League fixture against Rotherham will go to the Bluebell Wood Children's Hospice.
"We bought our tickets the day they came out," said one excited fan, Lucy Nowak, 18, from Chesterfield. "I just want a photo. I've got three but they are all rubbish so I want to try and get a proper one.
"We have been fans since the X-Factor," added 15-year-old Sahar Ghadirian, from Sheffield.
And obviously a huge huge thank you to everyone who came down :) a real credit to our fans :) hope it was a good day out ! — Louis Tomlinson (@Louis_Tomlinson) February 26, 2014
Tomlinson told the club's official website: “It’s absolutely amazing, those boys get to do that every week and it really is such an honour to be involved in a club, where I spent most of my child hood going down to the games.
“Just pulling on the shirt is just a boyhood dream. I think its really important that when we are lucky enough to be in the position that we are in, to use that for the greater good.
“It is really important to spread the word about Blue Bell Wood because they are such a great great charity. To get an insight into the football world has been fascinating and to be invited into that is such an honour.
“I have really enjoyed it and I can’t thank the people enough at Doncaster Rovers for having me.”
- Sports & Recreation
- Doncaster Rovers
- Louis Tomlinson