On Thursday night, Manchester United youngster Shola Shoretire was brought on a substitute in their Europa League last-32 tie with Real Sociedad. He set a club record of being the youngest player to ever play in Europe.
This led us down a rabbit hole of trying to find the youngest players to play for Premier League teams in Europe. The teams featured have all finished in a Champions League qualifying spot since 2000.
Sadly this means the heroic Europa League appearances from teams like Millwall, Blackburn Rovers and Portsmouth fail to feature, but there are ten teams who have had youngsters play a role in their Champions League or Europa League campaigns.
Here's the list, in no particular order:
Arsenal - Jack Wilshere
Age: 16 years, 10 months and 24 days
Europe debut: November 25th, 2008 (Champions League)
Opponent: Dyanmo Kyiv (Won 1-0)
Wilshere came on in the 77th minute for Carlos Vela against the Ukrainian side in Group G of the Champions League. Lord Nicklas Bendtnar scored the lone goal of the game. Arsenal went on to the semi-finals of the competition, losing out to Manchester United over two legs.
Chelsea - Dominic Solanke
Age: 17 years, 1 month and 7 days
Europe debut: October 21st, 2014 (Champions League)
Opponent: Maribor (Won 6-0)
It was a memorable night for Chelsea fans, as Didier Drogba scored his first goal for the club after ventures in China and Turkey. Eden Hazard ran riot, and Jose Mourinho felt it was the right time to bring on some youth. It was 23-year-old Solanke's only appearance for Chelsea at senior level.
Manchester United - Shola Shoretire
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) February 25, 2021
Age: 17 years and 23 days
Europe debut: February 25th, 2021
Opponent: Real Sociedad (Drew 0-0)
Shoretire became the youngest United player in Europe since Norman Whiteside in 1982. United had the two leg tie in the bag as the Spanish side visited Old Trafford with four goals to overcome. Angel Gomes holds the overall record, coming on against Crystal Palace in the Premier League in 2017.
Manchester City - Phil Foden
Age: 17 years, 5 months and 24 days
Europe Debut: 21st November, 2017
Opponent: Feynoord (Won 1-0)
It was a Champions League Group F clash that saw young starlet Foden make his Man City debut in Europe. City went on to to win 1-0 thanks to late Raheem Sterling goal. Foden went on to make three appearances in total in Europe that year, and five in the Premier League.
Liverpool - Raheem Sterling
Age: 17 years, 7 months and 25 days
Europe debut: 2nd August, 2012
Opponent: Gomel (Won 1-0)
Speaking of Raheem Sterling, he holds Liverpool's record for youngest player in Europe. It was a third-round Champions League qualifying match against Belarusian side Gomel. Sterling came on for an injured Joe Cole, with Stewart Downing's long range effort separating the sides.
Tottenham - Dane Scarlett
Dane Scarlett becomes the youngest player to feature for Tottenham Hotspur in their history at 16 years and 8 months, after making his debut in the #UEL tonight versus Ludogorets. [Transfermarkt] pic.twitter.com/Vb0cfGfVyF
— Hotspur Lane (@HotspurLane) November 26, 2020
Age: 16 years, 8 months and 2 days
Europe Debut: November 26th, 2020
Opponent: PFC Ludogorets Razgrad (Won 4-0)
Tottenham won both their encounters with Bulgarian outfit Ludogrets in this year's Europa League group stages. Jose Mourinho opted to hand Scarlett a club record European debut in their second match, where Spurs won 4-0. Scarlett has made two more appearances in Europe since.
Everton - Jake Bidwell
— Love Everton (@LuvEvertonForum) July 2, 2019
Age: 16 years, 8 months and 26 days
Europe Debut: December 17th, 2009
Opponent: BATE Borisov (Lost 1-0)
It was a strange starting 11 for the Toffees, as they had already qualified for the next stages of the Europa League. Jake Bidwell was among a slew of young Evertonians that got the nod for the game, including the recently signed Seamus Coleman.
Leicester City - Harvey Barnes
— LCFC Live (@LiveLCFC) December 6, 2016
Age: 18 years, 11 months and 28 days
Europe Debut: December 7th, 2016
Opponent: FC Porto (Lost 5-0)
It wasn't all daisies for Barnes in his European debut. Leicester set a forgettable record of the largest loss by an English side in the Champions League. However, the Foxes had a memorable tournament overall, topping their group and making it to the last eight in the competition.
Leeds United - Gareth Evans
1584. Gareth EVANS
Defender - 15.02.81 - ENG
05/09/2000 (LEEDS UNITED vs. Manchester City, L 2-1 - sub 57 mins)
Leeds United (98-01)
Prem Apps: 1
Prem Goals: 0@GazEvans03 pic.twitter.com/qA0Bpk0V5g
— Premier League Players (@premlgeplayers) October 8, 2020
Age: 19 years, 6 months and 8 days
Europe Debut: 23rd August, 2000
Opponent: TSV 1860 Munich
Words can't describe how much of a deep dive this was. Gareth Evans holds the record for Leeds United's youngest ever player in Europe, and it was a rogue one. He made his first team appearance in a second leg, Champions League qualifier against 1860 Munich. Leeds went on to make the semi-finals that year, losing to Valencia over two legs.