The UEFA Champions League has served us with some of the best memories for young players.
While most clubs and coaches would be going for big names in the market to boost their side’s in this completion, there are some who have used the same platform to introduce their young players mostly from the academies.
So who are the youngest debutants in the competition?
- 🇳🇬 Céléstine Babayaro (16 years and 87 days)
Game: Steaua 1-1 Anderlecht, 23 November 1994
The Nigerian left-back still holds the record for the youngest debutant in the competition. Featuring for Belgian giants Anderlecht, he was to start the game at Steaua in the 1994/95 group stage. But the memory is blemished as he was sent off 37 minutes into his debut to collect another bad record of becoming the competition's youngest player to be sent off.
- 🇫🇷 Rayan Cherki (16 years and 102 days)
Game: Zenit 2-0 Lyon, 27 November 2019
Cherki would have broken Babayaro’s record three weeks prior to his debut when he was an unused substitute. He was introduced in the 74th minute this coming after making his Ligue 1 debut the month before.
- 🇭🇷 Alen Halilović (16 years and 128 days)
Game: Dinamo Zagreb 0-2 Paris Saint-Germain, 24 October 2012
Introduced in the last five minutes of the game, he could do less in changing the outcome of the game. He is the son of former Dinamo player Sead Halilović and has been billed as the next Luka Modric by Croatia fans. The 22-year-old joined AC Milan in 2018 but is currently on loan at Heerenveen.
- 🇧🇪 Youri Tielemans (16 years and 148 days)
Game: Anderlecht 0-3 Olympiacos, 2 October 2013
Anderlecht is well known for giving its youth a chance in such competition and the Leicester City man is a beneficiary. He played in all 90 minutes of the Belgian side's home loss to Olympiacos on his Champions League debut.
- 🇬🇷 Charis Mavrias (16 years and 242 days)
Game: Panathinaikos 0-0 Rubin Kazan, 20 October 2010
Panathinaikos turned to Mavrias as they sought a winner with 12 minutes remaining of their group stage meeting with Rubin in 2010. The midfielder did not make a dream debut but later became the club's youngest ever European scorer and their youngest scorer in a derby game against Olympiacos. Mavrias subsequently signed for Scottish side Hibernian and Cyprus's Omonia.