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Yamal, Bale, Rooney: EURO qualifying's youngest scorers

A world-record signing and a future Manchester United icon feature as UEFA.com profiles the youngest scorers in EURO qualifying history.

Lamine Yamal celebrates his landmark goal in Georgia
Lamine Yamal celebrates his landmark goal in Georgia UEFA via Getty Images

Some players relish being thrown in at the deep end in EURO qualifying. Former Wales forward Gareth Bale and ex-England striker Wayne Rooney are two such examples, with the former having opened his international account with what would become a trademark free-kick less than three months after his 17th birthday.

However, both have to take a back seat when it comes to the youngest player to find the net in EURO qualifying after Spain's Lamine Yamal set a new landmark in UEFA EURO 2024 qualification.

We look at the youngest players in the history of EURO qualifying to get on the scoresheet, five of whom were celebrating international goals before turning 18.

Who are the youngest scorers in EURO qualifying?

Lamine Yamal
Georgia 1-7 Spain, 08/09/2023
Age: 16 years 57 days
Yamal became the youngest player in Spain's history when he came on as a substitute in their EURO 2024 qualifier in Tbilisi, breaking the previous record of 17 years and 62 days set by his Barcelona team-mate Gavi in 2021. He had only played five first-team matches and never scored for his hometown club when making his international bow, but he coolly fired in Nico Williams' cut-back to write his name into the history books half an hour after coming on as a substitute.

"I felt quite comfortable right from the get-go," said the teenager. "Nico set it all up. He left me one on one with the keeper and I just hit the ball where my body and soul told me to. That's it!" A calmness way beyond his years.

Gareth Bale scores for Wales against Slovakia in 2006
Gareth Bale scores for Wales against Slovakia in 2006Getty Images

Gareth Bale
Wales
1-5 Slovakia, 07/10/2006
Age:
17 years 83 days
Bale's first international goal would prove a bittersweet affair. With Wales 2-0 down at home to Slovakia, Bale stepped up on 37 minutes to convert a perfectly placed free-kick, reduce the deficit and, with it, become Wales's youngest-ever scorer. However, an eventual 5-1 reverse left the Welsh UEFA EURO 2008 qualification bid in tatters after only two games.

The teenage Bale had just started to establish himself at Southampton when he broke into the national team under manager John Toshack. "We've got a real player," stand-in captain Craig Bellamy said of the future world's most expensive footballer and Real Madrid ace after his wonder strike. "A real force for the next 14, 15 years." He wasn't wrong.

Levan Mchedlidze
Georgia 2-0 Scotland, 17/10/2007
Age: 17 years 207 days
Mchedlidze, son of Dinamo Tbilisi's 1981 European Cup Winners' Cup-winning goalkeeper Karlo Mchedlidze, moved to Italy aged 14 and was dubbed the 'Georgian Ibrahimović' during his loan spell at Palermo from Empoli, where he spent 13 seasons. Coincidentally, the forward made his international debut against the Azzurri before getting on the scoresheet against Scotland in his second game.

"Right after the Scotland match I returned to Empoli and it seemed every football fan knew me," Mchedlidze, who only scored twice in his international career, told UEFA.com. "Thanks to this goal I also became known in my country. It was an unforgettable moment in my life."

Ben Sahar
Israel 4-0 Estonia, 28/03/2007
Age: 17 years 230 days
Just 11 minutes after coming on as a second-half substitute, Sahar announced himself on the national-team stage with Israel's third goal in a comfortable victory over Estonia. The forward, on Chelsea's books at the time, raced onto Idan Tal's through ball and lifted it over an onrushing Mart Poom to open his account. A dream scenario got even better three minutes later when he strode onto a loose ball around the edge of the area and curled it with pace into the bottom right-hand corner.

Israel coach Dror Kashtan said: "Sahar is certainly talented. I have been following his progress for several years and this is the reason he is getting his chance." He would go on to play 44 times for Israel, scoring eight times.

Wayne Rooney was 17 years and 317 days when he scored against North Macedonia
Wayne Rooney was 17 years and 317 days when he scored against North MacedoniaAFP via Getty Images

Wayne Rooney
North Macedonia 1-2 England, 06/09/2003
Age: 17 years 317 days
Georgi Hristov struck first for the hosts but, with direct qualification for Portugal in their sights, England responded after half-time. Emile Heskey headed David Beckham's chipped pass into the path of Everton prospect Rooney, who slotted it under Petar Milosevski from the edge of the box to equalise and become his country's youngest-ever marksman.

"The talent is there, the quality is there," England manager Sven-Göran Eriksson noted. "He has a lot to learn but if things go to plan he can go very, very far." He certainly did go far, becoming the all-time top marksman for Manchester United and England, his record for the latter only recently falling to Harry Kane.

The rest of the top ten...

Yari Verschaeren
Belgium 9-0 San Marino, 10/10/2019
Age: 18 years 90 days

Zoran Filipović
East Germany 1-2 Yugoslavia, 09/05/1971
Age: 18 years 92 days

Robbie Keane after scoring for Republic of Ireland against Malta
Robbie Keane after scoring for Republic of Ireland against MaltaSportsfile

Robbie Keane
Republic of Ireland 5-0 Malta, 14/10/1998
Age: 18 years 98 days

Josef Jurkanin
Czechoslovakia
3-0 Türkiye, 18/06/1967
Age: 18 years 105 days

Arda Güler
Turkey 2-0 Wales, 19/06/2023
Age: 18 years 117 days