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Youngest Champions League players: Moukoko, Yamal, Babayaro, Cherki, Halilović, Tielemans

Youssoufa Moukoko remains the youngest but Lamine Yamal is now second. Who else features in the top six?

Lamine Yamal in action against Antwerp
Lamine Yamal in action against Antwerp AFP via Getty Images

A great number of European football royalty made their UEFA Champions League debuts early in their careers, but none did so at a younger age than Youssoufa Moukoko – the Dortmund striker made his competition bow in a group stage game against Zenit in December 2020 just 18 days after his 16th birthday.

UEFA.com takes a look at the five youngest players to have featured in the competition.

Who are the youngest players in Champions League history?

Youssoufa Moukoko (16 years 18 days)

Zenit 1-2 Dortmund, 8 December 2020
Born ten years (minus three days) after Céléstine Babayaro set the previous best, striker Moukoko became the new record holder. Prolific for St Pauli Under-13s aged ten, he joined Dortmund in 2016 and played for their U17s at 13 and for the U19s a year later. In January 2020, when barely 15, he trained with Dortmund's first team and on 21 November – a day after his 16th birthday – Moukoko became the youngest ever Bundesliga player as a substitute against Hertha. Just over a fortnight later, having sat on the bench for two Champions League games, he had his senior European debut.

Lamine Yamal (16 years 68 days)

Barcelona 5-0 Antwerp, 19 September 2023
Already Barcelona's youngest Liga player, the winger became the second-youngest Champions League appearance-maker on Matchday 1 of the 2023/24 competition, 11 days after scoring on his senior Spain debut in a 7-1 defeat of Georgia. "Since being in the youth team, I've played against much bigger players," he said. "[My mother] told me to be careful, but I always tell her to trust me." Yamal then became the youngest-ever player to appear in the knockout stage when he started the round of 16 first leg against Napoli, aged 16 years, 223 days.

Céléstine Babayaro (16 years 86 days)

Steaua 1-1 Anderlecht, 23 November 1994
The Nigerian left-back had become the youngest player in Champions League history when he started for Anderlecht at Steaua in the 1994/95 group stage. His ground-breaking debut established more than one record, however, as Babayaro become the competition's youngest player to be sent off, 37 minutes later. He joined Chelsea in 1997, winning the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup and FA Cup in west London.

Rayan Cherki (16 years 102 days)

Zenit 2-0 Lyon, 27 November 2019
The attacking midfielder was introduced 74 minutes into OL's game at Zenit, 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.

 Rayan Cherki in action against Zenit in 2019
Rayan Cherki in action against Zenit in 2019Getty Images

Alen Halilović (16 years 128 days)

Dinamo Zagreb 0-2 Paris Saint-Germain, 24 October 2012
Dinamo were heading towards a home defeat by Paris when the waif-like Halilović trotted 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 Prva Liga history. The attacking midfielder did not manage to establish himself with the likes of Barcelona and Milan thereafter, though was a more regular fixture in loan spells with Sporting Gijón, Las Palmas, Standard Liège and Heerenveen.

Youri Tielemans (16 years 148 days)

Anderlecht 0-3 Olympiacos, 2 October 2013
Midfielder Tielemans came on to Anderlecht's radar as a five-year-old, and subsequently made rapid progress through the ranks before playing all 90 minutes of the Belgian club's home loss to Olympiacos on his Champions League debut. Tielemans went on to captain Anderlecht 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.

Who is the youngest Champions League winner?

Three of the five youngest players to have appeared in a Champions League final victory did so in 1995, when Ajax's incredible crop beat AC Milan in Vienna. Youngest of all was substitute Nwankwo Kanu, with fellow replacement and eventual match-winner Patrick Kluivert second on the list.

Nwankwo Kanu (18 years 296 days)
Ajax 1-0 AC Milan, 1995

Patrick Kluivert (18 years 327 days)
Ajax 1-0 AC Milan, 1995

Iker Casillas (19 years 4 days)
Real Madrid 3-0 Valencia, 2000

Clarence Seedorf (19 years 53 days)
Ajax 1-0 AC Milan, 1995

Carlos Alberto (19 years 167 days)
Porto 3-0 Monaco, 2004

Who is the youngest Champions League scorer? Find out more about the history of Europe's greatest club competition.

1995 final highlights: Ajax 1-0 Milan