The UEFA Champions League's youngest players

Céléstine Babayaro holds the record, but who else features in the top five?

Céléstine Babayaro in action for Anderlecht
Céléstine Babayaro in action for Anderlecht Bongarts/Getty Images

One of the great joys of watching the UEFA Champions League is seeing fresh-faced prospects announce their talent to the world. We celebrate the youngest players to have graced Europe's top club competition.

Champions League stats handbook

Céléstine Babayaro (16 years 87 days)

Steaua 1-1 Anderlecht, 23 November 1994
The Nigerian left-back became the youngest player in UEFA Champions League history when he started for Anderlecht at Steaua in the 1994/95 group stage. His ground-breaking debut set 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 at Stamford Bridge.

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

Rayan Cherki (16 years 102 days)

Zenit 2-0 Lyon, 27 November 2019
Introduced 74 minutes into OL's game in Saint Petersburg, having been an unused substitute three weeks earlier – when he could have broken Babayaro's record – Cherki had only made his Ligue 1 debut the month before. The forward showed his ability with four goals in three UEFA Youth League Matchdays prior to his promotion, having struck in that competition aged 15 the previous September.

Alen Halilović (16 years 128 days)

Dinamo Zagreb's Alen Halilović pictured in 2012
Dinamo Zagreb's Alen Halilović pictured in 2012AFP via Getty Images

Dinamo Zagreb 0-2 Paris Saint-Germain, 24 October 2012
Dinamo were well on their way to a home defeat by Paris when the waif-like Halilović trotted on for the last five minutes of added time. Billed as the most exciting Croatian talent since Luka Modrić, the son of former Dinamo player Sead Halilović had become the youngest scorer in Prva Liga history a fortnight earlier. Still awaiting his breakthrough, the 24-year-old has just joined English second-tier side Birmingham.

Youri Tielemans (16 years 148 days)

Anderlecht 0-3 Olympiacos, 2 October 2013
Tielemans came on to Anderlecht's radar as a five-year-old, and the midfielder made rapid progress through the ranks before playing all 90 minutes of the Belgian side's home loss to Olympiacos on his UEFA Champions League debut. He captained the club before his 20th birthday and switched to Monaco in 2017, helping Belgium reach the 2018 FIFA World Cup semi-finals. Joined Leicester City in 2019.

Charis Mavrias (16 years 242 days)

Charis Mavrias in action against Rubin
Charis Mavrias in action against Rubin©Getty Images

Panathinaikos 0-0 Rubin Kazan, 20 October 2010
Panathinaikos turned to Mavrias as they sought a winner with 12 minutes of their group stage meeting with Rubin remaining in 2010. The midfielder did not make a dream debut but later became the club's youngest ever European scorer, and their youngest scorer in a derby game against Olympiacos. Mavrias subsequently signed for Scottish side Hibernian and is now in Cyprus with Omonoia.