Tottenham Hotspur FC winger Gareth Bale has burst on to the UEFA Champions League scene with two outstanding performances against holders FC Internazionale Milano. Here UEFA.com picks ten other fresh faces to have taken to the competition by storm.
IFK Göteborg 3-1 Manchester United FC
Buoyed by participating in Sweden's run to the 1994 FIFA World Cup semi-finals, the 20-year-old shone on his UEFA competition debut. After scoring in a qualifying triumph over AC Sparta Praha, Blomqvist earned IFK their first group stage success with a late effort against FC Barcelona. He then delivered a virtuoso display against United that helped persuade Sir Alex Ferguson to later sign him – scoring the first, setting up the second and winning the penalty with which IFK secured a 3-1 victory.
AFC Ajax 1-0 AC Milan
After turning 18 the previous summer, Kluivert embarked on an unforgettable first UEFA Champions League campaign with his debut in a September 1994 home victory against Milan. He scored on his second outing, the winner as Ajax prevailed at AEK Athens FC, but waited until the following May to add to his account – coming off the bench after 70 minutes and poking the only goal of the final past Sebastiano Rossi from Frank Rijkaard's pass with six minutes remaining.
Alessandro Del Piero
Borussia Dortmund 1-3 Juventus
The 20-year-old Italian had appeared in the UEFA Cup final the previous May and hit the ground running on his introduction to the UEFA Champions League, needing just 37 minutes to beat Dortmund keeper Stefan Klos with a superb curling strike after cutting in from the left. He struck in each of his first five games, added another in the quarter-finals against Real Madrid CF and ended a memorable campaign with a winners' medal.
Real Madrid CF 6-1 Ferencvárosi TC
Raúl took an early step on the path to the legendary status he attained at Madrid with a hat-trick on only his third appearance in the competition. After a near-post header for his first, he completed his treble with two low, left-footed finishes as well as teeing up two goals for Iván Zamorano. Aged 18 years and 114 days, he became the youngest hat-trick scorer in UEFA Champions League history.
Borussia Dortmund 3-1 Juventus
The homegrown midfielder, then 20, sealed Dortmund's final triumph with a 25-metre lob over Angelo Peruzzi 15 seconds after leaving the bench, capping a remarkable scoring run in the UEFA Champions League. His first two goals brought wins against FC Steaua Bucureşti and Juventus in 1995/96, and he added winners at AJ Auxerre and United in the 1996/97 quarter-finals and semi-finals before his dramatic final intervention. It was four years before he registered next in the competition.
Real Madrid CF 3-0 Valencia CF
Casillas made his UEFA Champions League debut aged 18 in a 3-3 draw at Olympiacos FC in September 1999 – a remarkably young age for a goalkeeper but he had already featured in the Madrid squad while still at school. With Bodo Illgner injured, he made 12 appearances in that campaign, the last of them coming in the final against Valencia CF when, just four days after his 19th birthday, he kept a clean sheet in a 3-0 win.
Manchester United FC 6-2 Fenerbahçe SK
The 18-year-old prodigy somehow managed to exceed expectations on his United debut with a brilliant hat-trick. Rooney had not played a competitive match since fracturing a metatarsal on England duty at UEFA EURO 2004, but his first appearance at Old Trafford was worth the wait: he lifted his first goal high over Rüştü Reçber when put through, drove a low second into the bottom corner from distance, then curled in a sumptuous free-kick for the third.
Olympique Lyonnais 2-1 Rosenborg BK
Two weeks shy of his 18th birthday, Benzema marked his UEFA Champions League debut with an outstanding display in Lyon's 2-1 defeat of Rosenborg – he scored the first goal and would have had a second but for a fine save by Espen Johnsen. It was a tantalising glimpse of things to come from the Frenchman, who has gone on to become a regular goalscorer in the competition.
ACF Fiorentina 2-0 Liverpool FC
The Montenegrin teenager got the Viola into the group stage with a fine near-post drive against Sporting Clube de Portugal in their away-goals qualifying success, then surpassed that feat with the two strikes that earned their first group victory against Liverpool – beating the offside trap to bury the opener past Pepe Reina then diverting in Juan Vargas' cross for the second. He hit two more against FC Bayern München in the last 16.
Manchester United FC 1-1 FC Porto
If we can add a member of the coaching fraternity to the equation, the Portuguese, then 41, made a striking entrance on to the UEFA Champions League stage in 2003/04 when leading Porto to the title at his first attempt. The new kid on the coaching block served notice of his love of the limelight when racing down the Old Trafford touch line to celebrate Costinha's last-minute equaliser that secured a 3-2 aggregate win.
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