Youngest Champions League goalkeepers: Vandevoordt, Svilar, Casillas
Tuesday, November 8, 2022
Iker Casillas, Manuel Neuer, Gianluigi Buffon and Petr Čech were all in their teens when they made their Champions League debuts, but the all-time record holder hails from Belgium.
Article top media content
The world's finest goalkeepers have graced the UEFA Champions League over the past 30 years, and a few of them got in there early. Iker Casillas, Manuel Neuer, Gianluigi Buffon and Petr Čech – four of the six keepers to make 100 or more appearances in the competition – were all in their teens when they got their introduction to Europe's premier club competition (another member of that select group, Oliver Kahn, was 25!).
Former Spain No1 Casillas in particular enjoyed a memorable introduction to the Champions League. Eight months on from his debut he became the youngest goalkeeper (and third youngest full stop) to lift the trophy, keeping a clean sheet as Real Madrid beat Valencia 3-0 – he was just four days past his 19th birthday.
Yet for the competition as a whole, Casillas is pushed down to third. The youngest ever goalkeeper to play in the Champions League? That honour goes to Belgium's Maarten Vandevoordt, who was 17 years and 287 days when he lined up for Genk against Napoli on Matchday 6 of the 2019/20 competition. So who else makes the all-time list?
Youngest UEFA Champions League goalkeepers
Vandevoordt was still over two months off his 18th birthday (the legal age to marry, drive and vote in Belgium) when he stood between the posts for Genk. A first-half hat-trick for Napoli's Arkadiusz Milik meant it was something of a baptism of fire for the Belgium U19 keeper, but he grew into the game. Vandevoordt remains the only 17-year-old goalkeeper to play in the Champions League.
The previous record-holder was another man born in Belgium, Serbia's Mile Svilar. Svilar was 18 years and 52 days when he got the nod for Benfica against Manchester United in the 2017/18 group stage, breaking the long-held mark set by Casillas when he was just a month old.
The youngest man to keep a clean sheet on their Champions League debut was CSKA Moskva's Igor Akinfeev, aged 18 years and 159 days.
17 years 287 days: Maarten Vandevoordt (Napoli 4-0 Genk, 10/12/19)
18 years 52 days: Mile Svilar (Benfica 0-1 Man United, 18/10/17)
18 years 118 days: Iker Casillas (Olympiacos 3-3 Real Madrid, 15/09/99)
18 years 125 days: Nikolay Mihaylov (Levski Sofia 0-3 Bremen, 31/10/06)
18 years 159 days: Igor Akinfeev (Porto 0-0 CSKA Moskva, 14/09/04)
18 years 246 days: Adrian Šemper (Lyon 3-0 Dinamo, 14/09/16)
18 years 262 days: Maxim Kabanov (Spartak Moskva 2-2 Feyenoord, 18/09/01)
18 years 287 days: Ruslan Neshcheret (Barcelona 2-1 Dynamo Kyiv, 04/11/20)
18 years 327 days: David de Gea (Porto 2-0 Atlético, 30/09/09)
19 years 61 days: Pepe Reina (Barcelona 1-0 Fenerbahçe, 31/10/01)
Check out our guide to the youngest Champions League players and youngest Champions League scorers to find out more about the history of Europe’s greatest club competition.
*All stats are group stage to final only