Last weekend, Matthew Shevlin became the second-youngest scorer in the history of the Northern Irish league, registering for Ballymena United FC at the age of 15 years and 350 days. UEFA.com discovers that ten European leagues can boast first-time scorers aged under 16.
ARMENIA: Armen Ghazaryan
Aged 14 years, 215 days
The youngest top-flight marksman in European history, according to UEFA.com's research, Ghazaryan came off the bench to score the final goal in a 7-0 win against FSC Lori for his home-town side FC Shirak on 2 September 2002. However, it took until 2006 for the right-back to make a regular impression in the first team. "Above all, he is a very reliable player," said his coach, Felix Khojoyan, at the time. Sadly, a recurring knee injury first sustained in 2010 has served to put Ghazaryan's career on hold in recent years.
LATVIA: Jānis Grīnbergs
Aged 15 years and 102 days
Grīnbergs notched Skonto FC's last goal – a penalty – in a 4-0 victory over FC Daugava Daugavpils on 10 June 2014, breaking the national record set by Valērijs Šabala, who registered his first Virsliga goal aged 15 years and 193 days in April 2010. A Skonto trainee since he was four, the teenager has just finished eighth grade at Riga 31st Secondary School. "It was only last year that I was a ballboy for players like Ruslan Mingazov, whose style I really admire," Grīnbergs told UEFA.com. "Now we are in the same dressing room."
NORWAY: Martin Ødegaard
Aged 15 years 150 days
The Norwegian top division's youngest ever debutant and its most junior scorer, Ødegaard made his Eliteserien bow on 13 April, aged 15 years and 117 days, setting up one of the goals in Strømsgodset IF's 2-0 success against Aalesunds FK. On 16 May, he found the net in a 4-1 triumph over Sarpsborg 08 FF to pick up his second domestic record. "I can't really describe how good it felt," he said. "But I need to keep my feet on the ground – my development as a player has just started."
LITHUANIA: Linas Pilibaitis
Aged 15 years, 159 days
Deployed as a substitute in a 10 September 2000 game for FK Kareda, Pilibaitis was on target in a 3-2 defeat by FK Nevėžis, though he admitted it was not a classic finish. "I was pressurising the goalkeeper; he hit the ball at me and it went in," Pilibaitis told UEFA.com. Converting from a forward to a midfielder, Pilibaitis won the Lithuanian title with FBK Kaunas in 2006 and scored a famous header for the club as they eliminated Rangers FC from the 2008/09 UEFA Champions League. He is now a Lithuanian international.
GEORGIA: Zaza Janashia
Aged 15 years, 202 days
Back on 30 August 1991, Zaza Janashia set a record in Georgia by netting in his fourth match for FC Odishi Zugdidi – a 2-1 victory against FC Sulori Vani. It was an auspicious start for the striker, who was to make his name in Russia with FC Lokomotiv Moskva, where he landed four Russian Cups under Yuri Semin – and became Georgia's player of the year for 1999. Having scored four times in nine appearances for Georgia, he retired from football in 2004 following spells at Kocaelispor and FC Baltika Kaliningrad.
AZERBAIJAN: Orkhan Aliyev
Aged 15 years, 236 days
Initially a trainee at FC Stavropol in Russia, Aliyev returned to Baku with his family in 2010 and signed for Sumqayıt FK; he hit his first goal for the club deep into added time in a 2-1 loss to Qäbälä FK on 14 August 2011. The forward claimed four further goals that year and four more the following season, before injury stopped him in his tracks. Offered a place in FC Porto's Under-19 team at one point, Aliyev was on Trabzonspor AŞ's radar for a while, but this January signed a two-year contract with Xäzär Länkäran FK.
SWITZERLAND: Endogan Adili
Aged 15 years, 283 days
Then Switzerland's Under-16 captain, Adili enjoyed a stunning debut for Grasshopper Club in May 2010, scoring his first goal for the club deep into added time in a 4-1 success against FC Aarau, ten minutes after coming off the bench – and bursting into tears as he celebrated. His coach Ciriaco Sforza said: "He's a footballer from the streets and will give us a lot of joy if he stays humble." He left Grasshoppers for FC Basel 1893 two years later, but did not show his full potential. Still just 19, he is looking to relaunch his career at Galatasaray AŞ next term.
ITALY: Amedeo Amadei
Aged 15 years, 287 days
"A Roma icon, he was a true symbol of the team and was recognised and loved by generations of fans," read a club statement as AS Roma reacted to the death of striker Amedeo Amadei, aged 92, in November 2013. Nicknamed 'Il Fornaretto' (the Little Baker) since his family owned a bakery in Frascati, Amedei made his Serie A debut with the Giallorossi on 2 May 1937, aged 15 years and nine months – and slotted his first goal against AS Lucchese Libertas 1905 a week later. He remains Serie A's youngest debutant and youngest marksman.
WALES: Graham Evans
Aged 15 years, 319 days
Three-time Welsh league top scorer, Evans registered the first goal of his top-flight career for local side Caersws FC – managed by his father, one-time Wrexham FC stalwart Mickey – against Inter Cardiff AFC on 30 April 1996. "As with every other player who's played for him, he has never been shy to let me know when he's unhappy with my performance," Evans later said of his dad. Caersws's all-time leading marksman, Evans also played for The New Saints FC and Aberystwyth Town FC.
NORTHERN IRELAND: Robbie Weir
Aged 15 years and 305 days
"It would be great to see him making it," said Larne FC manager Jimmy McGeough after the club's star player left for English club Sunderland AFC in February 2005. By that stage, Weir was 16, but already a top division regular and record holder, having scored his first goal in a 5-2 win against Crusaders FC on 9 October 2004. That season's Northern Ireland young player of the year, Weir never made it big with Sunderland, but the midfielder is enjoying a decent career in England's lower leagues, currently playing for Burton Albion FC.
©UEFA.com 1998-2014. All rights reserved.