The youngest Champions League debutants are teenagers who achieved their dream of exhibiting their skills on the biggest stage at the club level. This article highlights the 10 youngest players to make Champions League debut.
The Champions League is to club football what the World Cup is to international football.
Both tournaments are the pinnacle of football. So it is important to shed more light on the youngest debutants of the prestigious competition.
However, it is important to note that only a handful of footballers made their UEFA Champions League debut at a very young age.
But you can consider reading about the youngest Champions League Goalscorers.
Now, concerning the list is the 10 youngest Champions League debutants, It is in descending order. That is, from the 10th youngest to the 1st.
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Aleksandr Pavlenko (16 years 286 days)
Pavlenko is one of the players to retain a spot in the top 10 youngest Champions League debut for long.
For almost a decade he held the number two position on the list.
He made his professional debut in Spartak Moscow’s 2-1 loss to Feyenoord in 2001/2002 UEFA Champions League season.
After his retirement, he went into football management/administration.
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Bryan Cristante (16 years 278 days)
Cristante is one of the youngest Champions League debutants in the history of the competition.
The Italian international started his career at Italian side AC Milan.
His debut for the club doubles as his UEFA Champions League debut. It was in a match between AC Milan and Viktoria Plzen in December 2011.
Cristante came on as a substitute for Robinho in the match which ended as a 2-2 draw.
At 16 years 278 days, he became Milan’s youngest debutant and one of the youngest Champions League debutants.
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Moise Kean (16 years 264 days)
Moise Kean started his professional career at Italian giants Juventus. It did not take long before he made records.
He is Juventus’ youngest-ever debutant and the first player born in the 2000s to score in Europe’s top five leagues.
Kean made his UEFA Champions League debut on November 22nd, 2016 when Juventus defeated Sevilla.
Hence, he joined the list of youngest Champions League debutants.
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Kenneth Zohore (16 years 259 days)
Zohore is a cousin of Didier Drogba. He is born to a Danish Mother and an Ivorian father. He joined the Danish club Copenhagen as a teenager and graduated from under 19 to the first team.
The Copenhagen academy graduate made the record as the youngest debutant in Danish league history in his only appearance during the 2009/10 season.
The season after, Zohore got more playing time. It was during the 2010/11 season that he made his champions league debut.
Interestingly, his debut in the competition was against one of the competition’s finest Barcelona.
He made his Champions League debut as a substitute at Camp Nou where his team lost 2-0.
Thus, he became one of the youngest players to make the Champions League debut.
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Charalampos Mavrias (16 years 242 days)
Mavrias hails from Greek and joined the Panathinaikos youth team at 13 years old. In 3 years, he made his first-team debut in a UEFA Champions League match.
On 20th October 2010 in a 0-0 draw against Rubin Kazan, Mavrias joined the list of the youngest Champions League debutants.
At the time of his Champions League debut, he was second on the list. Also, as of 2021, he is Greek’s youngest debutant in the competition.
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Youri Tielemans (16 years 148 days)
Tielemans began his professional career at the Belgian club Anderlecht. At age 20, he already captained the Anderlecht and was voted Belgian young player of the year twice.
Moreover, he made his Champions League debut in a match against Olympiacos in the 2012/13 season and was featured for 90 minutes. He was 16 years 148 days old.
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Alen Halilovic (16 years 128 days)
As a young footballer at Dynamo Zagreb, Halilovic was billed as one of the most promising footballers in Europe.
It did not take long before Barcelona signed him from Dynamo Zagreb.
As of 2021, he holds the record as the youngest debutant in Dynamo Zagreb, Croatian league, and national team history.
In addition, he made his UEFA Champions League debut against PSG in Dynamo’s 2-0 defeat in the 2012/13 tournament.
At the time, he was second on the list of youngest Champions League debutants.
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Rayan Cherki (16 years 102 days)
Rayan Cherki was born in France to parents of Algerian descent. He joined the Olympic Lyon youth academy and rose to the first team.
Cherki made his league debut against Dijon in October 2019. About a month later, he became one of the youngest Champions League debutants in a match between Lyon and Zenit.
Also, he featured in Lyon’s 3-0 defeat to Bayern Munich in the semi-final of the 2019/20 UEFA Champions League.
Thus, he became the youngest player to feature in a semi-final match in the competition.
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Celestine Babayaro (16 years 87 days)
For 26 years, the former Nigerian left-back held the record as the youngest Champions League Debutant.
Celestine Babayaro played for the likes of Chelsea, Newcastle, and LA Galaxy.
However, it was with Anderlecht that he joined the list of youngest players to make his Champions League debut.
He made his Champions League debut against Steaua Bucuresti at 16 years and 87 days old. Ironically, he also made the record as the youngest player to be sent off in the UEFA Champions League.
It is important to note that Babayaro hailed from one of the best football Academies in Nigeria.
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Youssoufa Moukoko (16 years 18 days)
Moukoko tops the list of youngest Champions League debutants.
This young man took the German age-grade club football by storm. He scored with reckless abandon and drew the attention of the German National team coach. Meanwhile, Samuel Eto’o called him “The next top player…….after Messi.”
At age 15 he trained with Borussia Dortmund’s first team and a day after his 16th birthday he made his Bundesliga debut against Hertha Berlin.
Meanwhile, the German football league law which stated that only players from 16 years and 6 months above could make their debut had to be changed.
Moreover, he made his UEFA Champions League debut against Zenit Saint Petersburg in 2020 at 16 years 18 days old.
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In a nutshell, Youssoufa Moukoko is currently the youngest player to make the Champions League debut.
You’ll also observe that the age difference between the Youngest Players To Make their Champions League Debut is a matter of days.
At 16 years, not many clubs or managers take the bold step to feature players with lots of promise.
Although, some argue that it is a strategy to protect the players from undue pressure.
However, the manager may be too conscious of winning that he turns a blind eye to emerging talent.
Whatever it may be, it is strange that no player from the Dutch league is in the top 10 youngest Champions League debutants.
Especially when you consider how many young players are in the League. There is none from England or Spain either. What do you think could be the reason?