The UEFA Champions League's youngest debutants

Rayan Cherki has become the second youngest player to appear in the UEFA Champions League, behind only Céléstine Babayaro.

Céléstine Babayaro made history with Anderlecht
Céléstine Babayaro made history with Anderlecht ©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.

Céléstine Babayaro (16 years and 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, Babayaro becoming 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 (right) in action at Zenit
Rayan Cherki (right) in action at Zenit©Getty Images

Rayan Cherki (16 years and 102 days)
Zenit 2-0 Lyon, 27 November 2019

Introduced 74 minutes into OL's game in St 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 also struck in that competition when aged 15 the previous September.

Alen Halilović during his spell at Hamburg
Alen Halilović during his spell at Hamburg©Getty Images

Alen Halilović (16 years and 128 days)
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 22-year-old joined AC Milan in 2018. Currently on loan at Heerenveen.

Youri Tielemans (16 years and 148 days)
Anderlecht 0-3 Olympiacos, 2 October 2013

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

Charis Mavrias (16 years and 242 days)
Panathinaikos 0-0 Rubin Kazan, 20 October 2010

Panathinaikos turned to Mavrias as they sought a winner with 12 minutes remaining of their group stage meeting with Rubin 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 Cyprus's Omonia.

Peter Ofori-Quaye scored a landmark goal for Olympiacos
Peter Ofori-Quaye scored a landmark goal for Olympiacos©Getty Images

Youngest scorer: Peter Ofori-Quaye (17 years and 195 days)
Rosenborg 5-1 Olympiacos, 1 October 1997

Nine minutes after his introduction, the Ghanaian forward struck Olympiacos's consolation in a heavy defeat by Rosenborg in the 1997/98 group stage. His goals during his first seasons in Piraeus drew plenty of international attention, but a knee injury eventually wrecked his progress, and he ended his career in his native Ghana in 2012.

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