This tournament is the perfect tournament for players to make their presence known.

It’s always intriguing to see how young players are performing and who the next big name will be. Many experienced players have prospered in the Champions League. But only a few young players have found success in European club football. Yet an early goal does not always guarantee long-term success. Some have gone on to become household names.

Let’s take a look at all 10 youngest players to find the net in the UEFA Champions League and where are they now.

10. Pedri: 17 years 330 days (Barcelona 5-1 Ferencváros, 20/10/20)

Where is he now: Barcelona

The €10m that Barcelona paid Las Palmas for Pedri in 2019 is looking like an absolute steal. Barcelona has unearthed a gem of a player.

Xavi: “Pedri reminds me of Andrés Iniesta. He’s simply magic. I didn’t see many other talents at his level before… he’s amazing”

17-year-old Pedri had come on in the 63rd minute of the match, making his long-awaited Champions League debut by playing 27 minutes. Ousmane Dembele made a lighting run before finding Pedri on a pass who was right behind him. Pedri with great composure shot it past the goalkeeper. Making it the fourth goal in a 5-1 victory over Ferencvaros with the likes of Lionel Messi, Ansu Fati, Philippe Coutinho, and Ousmane Dembele finding the net.

Since then, the now 19-year-old Pedri has established himself as a regular in the Barcelona first team and made his international debut for Spain.

9. Aaron Ramsey: 17 years 300 days (Fenerbahçe 2-5 Arsenal, 21/10/08)

Aaron Ramsey
Aaron Ramsey joined Nice on a free transfer this summer (Courtesy: Juventus)

Where is he now: Nice

Aaron James Ramsey started his career at Cardiff City and become the youngest player ever to play for the club at just 16 years and 124 days. The teenage prodigy, a year later Ramsey moved to Wenger’s Arsenal in 2008 in a £5 million deal.

Wenger: “A player with a fantastic engine, good build, good technique and good vision, great spirit and has an obsession – he wants always to be better.”

In 2009, Ramsey came off the bench and scored his first Champions League goal. In the 90th minute in a 2-5 win over Fenerbahçe with a vicious finish from the edge of the box, which hit the far post and went in goal.

Ramsey played 371 times for Arsenal, winning three FA Cups, before joining Juventus in 2019 on a free transfer. Signing a £400,000 a week contract making him the highest-earning British player ever based on a basic salary. But his career went downhill due to his injury issues, managing just 23 starts for The Old Lady. Now 31, Ramsey signed with OGC Nice on a free transfer after a 6-month loan deal with Rangers in SPL from Juventus the previous season.

8. Jude Bellingham: 17 years 289 days (Dortmund 1-2 Manchester City, 14/04/21)

Where is he now: Borussia Dortmund

Jude Bellingham started his journey at Birmingham F.C.  With the meteoric improvement Jude earned the privilege of getting quick promotions to Birmingham’s U-18 and U-23 teams at ages 14 and 15. He was gradually introduced to the first-team environment and training with the senior squad while still a schoolboy.

Jude became Birmingham’s youngest ever goal scorer at the age of 16 years and 63 days. After 44 senior apps for Birmingham F.C, Dortmund agreed to pay £26m to sign him in a world record for a player of his age. Bellingham chose Dortmund over United because of their track record of giving young players regular game time.

In 2021, against Manchester City in the Champions League quarter-final, Jude scored a superb goal by collecting a loose ball in the D, shifting it quickly on the right side, and drilling it past the goalkeeper. However, Man City won on the night and in the tie.

7. Breel Embolo: 17 years 263 days (Basel 4-0 Ludogorets, 04/11/14)

Where is he now: AS Monaco

Breel Donald Embolo born in Cameroon moved with his family to France before finally settling in Switzerland. After joining the youth system of Basel in 2010, working his way through their junior teams, Embolo made his professional debut for Basel in March 2014 and won the Swiss Super League three times.

Breel Embolo announced himself to the footballing world when he opened the scoring in Basel’s 4-0 thrashing of Ludogorets in 2014 as a 17-year-old. Scoring 21 goals in 61 apps for Basel he was snapped up by Bundesliga side, Schalke for €20 million plus add-ons. The move didn’t quite go to plan, with the striker struggling to hold his spot in the starting line-up. In 2019 Breel transferred to Borussia Monchengladbach for €11m.

Now 25, the 6 ft 2 striker joined Ligue 1 club Monaco for a four-year deal for a €12.5m.

6. Martin Klein: 17 years 241 days(Panathinaikos 2-1 Sparta Praha, 27/02/02)

Where is he now: Free agent after leaving German sixth-tier side Kickers Selb in 2020

Martin Klein the Czech football player is the only defender on this list who joined Sparta Prague in 2000. Klein’s career could not have gone more oppositely than others on the list.

After coming off the bench to score a consolation goal for Sparta Praha in their 2-1 loss to Panathinaikos. He would go on to make only one more appearance for Sparta before being sold to Czech outfit FK Teplice spending seven seasons at the club.

Later on, Klein went on to play for 11 different clubs never managing to reach the top level of football.

Now, at age 38, he is without a club.

5. Bojan Krkić: 17 years 218 days (Schalke 0-1 Barcelona, 01/04/08)

Where is he now: Vissel Kobe

Bojan Krkic Perez was dubbed as the next Lionel Messi. The La Masia graduate raised through the youth ranks saw him make his first-team debut at the age of 17 years and 19 days breaking the record set by Lionel Messi. Moreover, in his debut season, he scored 12 goals in 48 matches.

In 2008, Bojan scored his debut UCL goal against Schalke in the first (away) leg of the quarter-finals. After Thierry Henry’s first shot was deflected by Manuel Neuer, the Frenchman clipped the ball into the far post, allowing the 17-year-old Bojan to smash it into the goal from the 6-yard box.

Bojan Krkic spent four seasons at Camp Nou, scoring 41 goals in 162 games. Two Champions League winners’ medals but never fulfilling his potential at Barca. Since leaving Barca in 2011 he has played for Roma followed by a move to AC Milan, Ajax, Stoke City, Mainz, Alaves, Montreal Impact in MLS, and most recently Vissel Kobe in Japan.

4. Cesc Fàbregas 17 years 218 days (Arsenal 5-1 Rosenborg, 07/12/04)

Where is he now: Como 1907

Another La Masia graduate and one more excellence find from Arsene Wenger. Signed at 16 by Premier League club Arsenal in September 2003. Largely living up to his reputation as an exceptional passer and outstanding vision.  Captaining the club by the 2008-09 season after taking over from William Gallas.

17-year-old Cesc made an immediate impact, netting the third in the Gunners’ 5-1 win against Rosenborg in the Champions League. He received the ball under pressure showing composure he flicked the ball over an oncoming defender and slotted the ball into the net.

Returning to Barcelona in 2011 for a deal worth €35 million During his three years at Camp Nou, Fabregas won the La Liga title, the Copa del Rey, the FIFA Club World Cup, the UEFA Super Cup, and two Spanish Super Cup. Later moving on to Chelsea in 2014

20 Champions League goals in over 100 games for giants like Arsenal, Barcelona, and Chelsea. Also, racking up 110 apps for Spain’s national football team.

3. Mateo Kovačić 17 years 216 days (Dinamo Zagreb 1-7 Lyon, 07/12/11)

 Mateo Kovačić
Mateo Kovačić currently plays for Premier League giants Chelsea (Courtesy: Premier League)

Where is he now: Chelsea

Mateo Kovačić at 13 decided to join the academy of Croatian giants Dinamo Zagreb despite being scouted by several European clubs, including Ajax, Inter Milan, Juventus, and Bayern Munich. Eventually making his professional debut in the 2010-11 season.

In 2011, Mateo scored his first goal in UCL, creating history. The 17-year-old’s strike in Dinamo Zagreb’s 1-7 defeat to Olympique Lyon in the group stages made him one of the youngest ever to score in the competition.

Since opening his account at UCL he forged an impressive career moving ahead. Joining Inter Milan in 2013. After the 2014–15 season, he moved to Real Madrid, where he won three consecutive Champions Leagues. In 2019, after a one-year loan deal at Chelsea joining them permanently, won Europa League and in 2020-21 another Champions Leagues.

The four-time Champions League winner!

2. Peter Ofori-Quaye: 17 years 195 days (Rosenborg 5-1 Olympiacos, 01/10/97)

Where is he now: Retired in 2012.

At 15, Peter Ofori-Quaye came to Greece, joining Kalamata FC. Later signed for Greek giants Olympiacos at the age of 17. Then the 17 years old Ghanaian had a 22-year run as the Champions League’s youngest-ever goal scorer. After scoring during the 1997-1998 season in a Group stage match against Norwegian visitors Rosenborg suffered a humbling 1-5 defeat.

Ofori-Quaye spent most of his career in the Greek division and accumulated 33 goals in his 10 seasons in the league.

1. Ansu Fati :17 years 40 days (Internazionale Milano 1-2 Barcelona, 10/12/19)

Where is he now: Barcelona

Yet another La Masia graduate, Ansu Fati youngest scorer in Champions League history lowered the mark by 5 months which was set by Peter Ofori-Quaye more than two decades ago.  

Fati joined Barcelona’s La Masia in 2012, aged 10. Rising through the ranks signed he signed his first professional contract with the club in 2019. Aged 16 years and 298 days, he became the second-youngest player to debut for the club as a late substitute in Barca’s 5-2 win over Real Betis.

In 2019, in a match against Inter Milan, Ansu Fati was subbed in at the 85th min mark with the score tied at 1-1. just a minute later, playing one touch with Luis Suarez before hitting a first-time effort off the post from outside the box.

Now 19, Fati has managed 45 apps and 16 goals for Barcelona so far. Moreover, he scored on his international debut for Spain. Ansu Fati is now the youngest goal scorer in Spain’s history, El Clasico history, Barcelona’s La Liga history, and in Champions League history.

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