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youngest champions league debuts

Five youngest debutants in Champions League history

A four-goal Champions League thrashing in Naples may not seem like the most memorable of occasions for Belgian minnows Genk, but for young goalkeeper Maarten Vandevoordt it would prove a historic if horrible debut.

The 17-year-old became the youngest goalkeeper in the competition’s history to start a fixture, though he could do little to prevent his side being on the end of a humbling defeat to the Italian side.

Nevertheless, Vandevoordt’s place in history is assured, though the young shot-stopper is quite the elder statesman compared to some of the players to feature on this list.

Here are the youngest debutants in Champions League history…

Kenneth Zohore – 16 years, eight months and 19 days

The Danish forward would break into the team at FC Copenhagen as a 16-year-old, coming on as a substitute in a 2-0 defeat to Barcelona in 2010 to become one of the youngest players in the competition’s history.

His precocious talent would see him move to Fiorentina, though a move to Italy would fail to work out and after spells back in Scandinavia, he would move to English football and Cardiff City. Zohore would move to fellow Championship side West Brom during the summer with the club currently seeking promotion to the Premier League.

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Charalampos Mavrias – 16 years, seven months and 29 days

Remember him, Sunderland fans? Probably not.

Mavrias would make his debut in the Champions League in 2010, becoming the then second-youngest player ever to feature when turning out for Panathinaikos against Rubin Kazan in a goalless group stage draw.

The fixture was largely forgettable but for the introduction of the teenager, much like his three-year stint on Wearside that yielded just four league appearances and two underwhelming loan spells away.

Capped eight times for Greece, Mavrias would make two appearances during a short stint at Hibernian last season before joining Cypriot side Omonia.

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Youri Tielemans – 16 years, four months and 25 days

Tipped for the top from a young age at Anderlecht, Tielemans was the latest bright thing to come through the Belgian side’s production line of young talent.

He would make his Champions League debut from the start in a defeat to Olympiakos in October 2013, aged just 16 years and 148 days. The midfielder would quickly establish himself as a regular and thrive, winning two league titles before joining Monaco.

He is currently part of the exciting, young Leicester team surprisingly embroiled in the Premier League title race, having joined the Foxes in a club-record £40m deal last summer.

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Alen Halilovic – 16 yeats, four months and six days

Halilovic’s emergence saw him swiftly linked with European football’s elite, many tipping the Croatian to follow in the footsteps of Luka Modric and Mateo Kovacic in joining a major club on the continent.

The hype came after Halilovic made his Champions League debut as a 16-year-old in 2012, coming on as a late substitute in a defeat to Paris Saint-Germain for the aforementioned Kovacic.

Barcelona would come calling two years later, though the now 23-year-old failed to establish himself and his potential is yet to be fulfilled following spells at the likes of Hamburg and Las Palmas.

Now contracted to AC Milan, he is spending the current season on loan in the Netherlands with Heerenveen.

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Celestine Babayaro – 16 years, two months and 25 days

Making his debut less than three months after his 16th birthday, former Nigeria international Babayaro is the youngest player ever to feature in the Champions League, making his debut in the competition for Anderlecht against Steaua in 1994.

The left-back would spend three seasons at the Belgian side before moving to the Premier League and Chelsea, winning the FA Cup and UEFA Super Cup at Stamford Bridge and enjoying over a decade in English football with the Blues and later Newcastle United.

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Read: Champions League Team of the Decade

Read Also: Five of the best individual performances in Champions League history

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