Babayaro held the record of the youngest player in Champions League history for 26 years, from 1994 to 2020 — when it was broken by Moukoko.
The UEFA Champions League has served as one of the biggest platforms for footballers to showcase their talents when the world is watching. Europe’s premier club football competition has equally served as an opportunity for many upcoming young players to display their talents in front of the watching world.
Young footballers savour making their mark in the Champions League, as it might be a perfect opportunity to come into limelight.
In this article, FootballOrbit brings you the 10 youngest players to appear in the Champions League.
1. Youssoufa Moukoko (16 years and 18 days)
Youssoufa Moukoko joined Borussia Dortmund in 2016 and played for their U17s at 13 years old, and for the U19s a year later.
In January 2020, barely 15, he trained with Dortmund’s first team and on the 21st of November – a day after his 16th birthday – Moukoko became the youngest ever Bundesliga player as a substitute against Hertha.
Just over a fortnight later (8 December 2020), having sat on the bench for two Champions League games, he had his senior European debut in a 2-1 victory over Zenith St Petersburgh.
2. Lamine Yamal (16 yrs and 68 days)
Already Barcelona’s youngest La Liga player, Lamine Yamal became the second-youngest player to appear in the UEFA Champions League on Matchday 1 of the 2023/24 competition as Barcelona trounced Royal Antwerp 5-0.
Furthermore, Yamal is among the youngsters to watch out for in this season’s UEFA Champions League.
3. Celestine Babayaro (16 yrs and 86 days)
In Steaua Bucharest’s 1-1 draw vs Anderlecht on the 23rd of November 1994, Nigerian left-back, Celestine Babayaro, became the youngest player in Champions League history when he started for Anderlecht in the 1994/95 group stage.
However, Babayaro’s memorable debut also saw him set an unwanted record as the competition’s youngest player to be sent off — just 37 minutes into the match!!!
4. Rayan Cherki (16 yrs and 102 days)
Attacking midfielder, Rayan Cherki, was introduced 74 minutes into Lyon’s game at Zenith on the 27th of November 2019 — having been an unused substitute three weeks earlier when he might have broken Babayaro’s record.
Cherki had only made his Ligue 1 debut the month before. The teenager had showcased his ability with four goals in three UEFA Youth League matchdays prior to his promotion, having also struck in that tournament aged 15 the previous September.
5. Alen Halilović (16 yrs and 128 days)
On October 24, 2012, Dinamo Zagreb were heading towards a home defeat vs PSG when Alen Halilović was brought on for the last five minutes.
Billed as the most exciting Croatian talent since Luka Modrić, the son of former Dinamo player Sead Halilović had already become the youngest scorer in the history of the Croatian league.
Thereafter, the attacking midfielder failed to establish himself with the likes of Barcelona and AC Milan, but was a more regular fixture in loan spells with Sporting Gijón, Las Palmas, Standard Liège and Heerenveen.
6. Youri Tielemans (16 yrs and 148 days)
On the 2nd of October 2013, Youri Tielemans played all 90 minutes of Anderlecht’s home loss to Olympiacos on his Champions League debut.
He went on to captain the Belgian giants before his 20th birthday, move to Monaco in 2017, help Belgium reach the 2018 FIFA World Cup semi-finals and win the FA Cup with Leicester City.
The now 25-year-old currently plays for Aston Villa.
7. Warren Zaire-Emery (16 yrs and 231 days)
On 25 October 2022, Warren Zaire-Emery made his UEFA Champions League debut for PSG as a substitute in a 7-2 home victory over Maccabi Haifa. This made him the youngest player to appear in the Champions League for the club.
8. Charalampos Mavrias (16 yrs and 241 days)
On 20 October, 2010, Charalampos Mavrias made his professional first-team – and UEFA Champions League – debut, playing the last 12 minutes of a 0-0 home draw against Rubin Kazan.
Thus, becoming the youngest Greek player ever to appear in the competition.
9. Kenneth Zohore (16 yrs and 262 days)
In October 2010, Kenneth Zohore made his first UEFA Champions League appearance for Copenhagen, playing against FC Barcelona at Camp Nou.
The 16-year-old striker replaced César Santin in the 74th minute of the game, becoming one of the youngest players ever to play in the Champion’s League.
10. Moise Kean (16 yrs and 268 days)
Moise Kean made his professional debut for Juventus on 19 November 2016, at the age of 16 years & 265 days, coming on in the 84th minute for Mario Mandžukić in a 3-0 Serie A win over Pescara.
Upon doing so, he became the club’s youngest-ever debutant and the first player born in the 2000s to play in one of Europe’s four major leagues.
On 22 November, he became the first player born in the 2000s to feature in a UEFA Champions League match, after being substituted on in the 84th minute of a 3-1 away win over Sevilla.