Last week, a Northern Irish schoolboy named Christopher Atherton entered the record books by becoming the youngest player to play in a first-class, fully sanctioned competitive senior match, and now the Premier League is also breaking records.
At the age of 13 years and 329 days, Atherton came off the bench to play for Glenavon in the Northern Ireland Football League Cup. Moreover, Lurgan Blues beat the winners 6-0, with their teenage debutant providing an assist and scoring the sixth goal.
Atherton broke the British record previously held for more than four decades by Eamon Collins, who made his senior Blackpool debut in 1980 at the tender age of 14 years and 323 days – nearly a full year older than Atherton.
👏 Congratulations @Glenavon_FCChristopher Atherton of Team Christopher Atherton, who made his debut tonight in the first leg against Dollingstown at the age of 1⃣3⃣ years and 3⃣2⃣9⃣ days, became the youngest player ever to play senior football in a UK competition. pic.twitter.com/uQuK7XT2et
— NI Football League (@OfficialNIFL) September 13, 2022
Not to be outdone, Arsenal debuted Ethan Nwaneri at the age of 15 and 181 days against Brentford to break the English Premier League record just days later.
Here we take a look at some of the youngest players playing in Europe’s Big Five leagues, as well as other prodigies who have set the same record in several other high-profile elite competitions around the world.
English Premier League: Ethan Nwaneri, 15 years, 181 days
Nwaneri broke the record previously held by Liverpool’s Harvey Elliott (16 years and 30 days) when he came on for Arsenal in a 3–0 win over Brentford on 18 September 2022. He also became the club’s youngest senior player, breaking the record held by Cesc Fabregas.
A special moment for one of our…
Ethan Nwaneri became the youngest player in @Premier League story! 😲
Marquinhos also replaces @BukayoSaka87 🤝
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) September 18, 2022
English Women’s Super League: Lauren James, 16 years and 30 days
Coincidentally, the women’s Super League record for youngest players is exactly the same as the men’s Premier League record, and then-Arsenal striker James (younger sister of Chelsea defender Rhys) made his loss in the division by less than half a year. month after her 16th birthday.
Spanish La Liga: Luca Romero, 15 years and 219 days
Romero broke a record held since 1939 when he came out for Mallorca in the 83rd minute of a league match against Real Madrid in 2020. The record was previously held by Celta Vigo defender Sanson, who was 15 years and 255 days old when he made his debut for the club just a couple of months after the outbreak of World War II.
1. At the age of 15 years and 219 days, Mallorca’s Luca Romero becomes the youngest player ever to play on @LaLigaRU game, breaking Sanson’s record for the Celta de Vigo in December 1939 (15 years and 255 days). Child.
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) June 24, 2020
German Bundesliga: Youssouf Mukoko, 16 years and 1 day
At the time of this writing, standout striker Mukoko was just 17 years old and made his senior league debut for Borussia Dortmund the day after his 16th birthday in the 2020-21 season – an appearance that only became legal after the DFB changed its restrictions. on the age of the players last year. .
Mukoko was substituted for Erling Haaland in the final five minutes of a 5-2 thrashing of Hertha Berlin to set a Bundesliga record from fellow Dortmund player Nuri Sahin, who made his league debut for the club at the age of 16 years and 334 days.
Youssouf Mukoko became the youngest player in the history of the Bundesliga. Yesterday he turned 16 🤯 pic.twitter.com/cqyWKZr2di
— Sportzshala FC (@SportzshalaFC) November 21, 2020
16 years and one day.
Youssouf Mukoko became the youngest player ever to play in the Bundesliga 👶 pic.twitter.com/0JpbquLCVP
— English Bundesliga (@Bundesliga_EN) November 21, 2020
Italian Serie A: Wisdom Amey, 15 years and 274 days
Amey broke new ground at the end of the 2020-21 season when he came out of the dugout for the last few minutes of Bologna’s 2-0 loss to Genoa. Although he was unable to prevent the defeat, the right-back came out in the 89th minute and , thus becoming the youngest player in the history of Italian top division football.
Wisdom Amey, 15, became the youngest player in Serie A history when she left for Bologna yesterday 👶
He was born 3 months after Lionel Messi won his first La Liga title 🤯 pic.twitter.com/gUetaQAPDc
— Sportzshala FC (@SportzshalaFC) May 13, 2021
French Ligue 1: Kalman Guerencery, 15 years and 225 days
The longest record in all five of Europe’s top leagues can be found in France, where Lens midfielder Guerencery is still the youngest player to feature in the top division despite having done so against AS Monaco in August 1960. .
In comparison, Kylian Mbappe was a relatively late player compared to 16 years and 347 days when he took his first bow at Monaco in December 2015.
Major League Soccer: Freddy Adu, 14 years and 306 days
Original MLS prodigy Adu was only 14 years old when he made his league debut for DC United in a wave of hype in 2004. Called by some “the new Pele”, the exceptionally young striker quickly buckled under the weight of these sky-high expectations. expectations, giving way to a largely unsettled and nomadic career.
The 14-year-old made history by becoming the youngest person in the United States to play professional sports. pic.twitter.com/kAqNhTCOs4
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) April 4, 2020
Europa League: Willem Goebbels, 16 years and 113 days
Goebbels broke new ground by becoming the first player born in the 21st century to make his Europa League debut when he came out for Lyon in the group stage match against Atalanta in December 2017. The young French striker also became the youngest player in the tournament’s history. process after entering combat at the age of only 16 years.
16. Willem Goebbels (16 years old 113 years old) is the youngest player in the history of the UEFA Europa League. Boy.
— OptaJohan (@OptaJohan) December 7, 2017
Champions League: Yusuf Mukoko, 16 years and 18 days
A little over two weeks after becoming the Bundesliga’s youngest ever player, Mukoko followed suit in the Champions League when he played for Dortmund away against Zenit St. Petersburg in the 2020–21 group stage of the tournament. The arrival of the 16-year-old striker in the 58th minute coincided with the German team roaring back from a goal to win 2-1 in Russia.
🖤💛 16-year-old Dortmund prodigy Yussuf Mukoko has made Champions League history as the youngest player ever to play in the tournament! #Championship
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) December 8, 2020