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Who Are the Youngest Players in the Premier League?

When talking about footballers, the late Matt Busby once said that “if they are good enough, they are old enough”. This still rings true today with the Premier League full of teenage stars, some of whom are first-team regulars. It may seem like an enormous responsibility to handle for someone that has not long finished school but so many young players seem to relish the opportunity.

Most Premier League managers are happy to place their trust in young players who have shown real ability, either on the training ground or during a loan spell with lower-league clubs. It is a practice that is largely encouraged too because any up-and-coming star will favour clubs where they will likely be handed first-team opportunities.

As well as highlighting the current youngest players that have made their Premier League debut, we will also look at those who made an extremely early breakthrough from years gone by.

Current Youngest Players

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Our first port of call is to look at the current youngest Premier League players as of early 2022. Keep your eye on these names over the next few years to see which are able to deliver on their early potential.

Player Club Born Debut Age
Kaide Gordon Liverpool Oct 2004 17y 3m 11d
Dane Scarlett Tottenham Mar 2004 16y 10m 14d
Sonny Perkins West Ham Feb 2004 17y 11m 6d
Shola Shoretire Manchester Utd Feb 2004 17y 19d
Carney Chukwuemeka Aston Villa Oct 2003 17y 6m 29d
Leo Hjelde Leeds United Aug 2003 18y 4m 21d
Jon Rowe Norwich Apr 2003 18y 7m 28d
Fin Stevens Brentford Apr 2003 18y 9m 1d
Harvey Elliott Liverpool Apr 2003 16y 30d
Tyler Onyango Everton Mar 2003 18y 8m 17d
Liam Delap Manchester City Feb 2003 17y 7m 19d

Kaide Gordon (Liverpool)

Born: October 2004
Debut Age: 17 years, 3 months, 11 days

With both Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah both away at the Africa Cup of Nations, Liverpool found themselves short of wingers for their home game against Brentford in January 2022. This provided an opportunity for Kaide Gordon to step out in front of the Kop. After coming on for the last 10 minutes or so, the 17 year old even had a presentable chance to score a dream debut goal but the opportunity went begging.

Dane Scarlett (Tottenham)

Born: March 2004
Debut Age: 16 years, 10 months, 14 days

Tottenham fans have high hopes for Dane Scarlett. The last Tottenham striker to break through the academy set-up was none other than Harry Kane and there is a real expectation that Scarlett can be at least half as good. To date he has only received a few seconds of Premier League football, this provided when coming on for Heung-min Son during a home win over West Brom. He did however play 260 minutes across four matches during Tottenham’s Conference League effort in 2021/22. He didn’t score any goals in this time but more opportunities to score may well follow.

Sonny Perkins (West Ham)

Born: February 2004
Debut Age: 17 years, 11 months, 6 days

West Ham fans caught their first glimpse of what Sonny Perkins could do when he came on for 12 minutes in a Europa League tie versus Rapid Vienna in November 2021. Having already won the group by the time of their last match, David Moyes then handed the 17 year old his first senior start against Dinamo Zagreb. The good times kept on coming for Perkins as a month later he made his Premier League debut, featuring for the final few minutes against Leeds. It wasn’t the most joyful of debuts mind you as the Hammers lost 3-2 in front of their own fans.

Shola Shoretire (Man Utd)

Born: February 2004
Debut Age: 17 years, 19 days

Less than two weeks after signing his first professional contract, Shola Shoretire introduced himself to the world when replacing Mason Greenwood in a 3-1 home win over Newcastle in February 2021. Four days later he broke a record that had lasted for 38 years by being United’s youngest player to feature in a European competition. Although at the time of writing he is yet to start a match for his club, United have typically been very willing to hand opportunities to their leading academy stars so we may yet see more of the forward.

Carney Chukwuemeka (Aston Villa)

Born: October 2003
Debut Age: 17 years, 6 months, 29 days

Despite making his debut in the 89th minute against Tottenham in May 2021, the 2003-born Chukwuemeka very nearly scored but his effort bounced back off the post. He was then in action four days later, playing the final 20 minutes or so of a surprise final-day win over Chelsea who were yet to qualify for the Champions League. Being one of the stars of the youth set-up meant the English midfielder enjoyed his first league start not long after. This milestone moment came when Dean Smith named him in the starting line-up for a home match versus Brentford on 28th August 2021.

Leo Hjelde (Leeds)

Born: August 2003
Debut Age: 18 years, 4 months, 21 days

It was never the plan for Leo Hjelde to get any senior playing minutes during his first season at Leeds but their injury crisis made it simply unavoidable. Already lacking numbers, Leeds suffered two first-half injuries during an away clash with West Ham. The second man to limp off was the left-back, Junior Firpo meaning Hjelde was the like-for-like replacement. Thrown into the deep end, Hjelde held his own and managed to put in a respectable performance against West Ham’s attacking talents.

Jon Rowe (Norwich)

Born: April 2003
Debut Age: 18 years, 7 months, 28 days

Having netted seven goals in just seven matches for the U23 side, it seemed only fair to reward Jon Rowe with some minutes for the senior team. After spending one game as an unused sub, he then was handed a 25-minute stint against Crystal Palace in December 2021, a game which Norwich had already written off as they were 3-0 down. There was more to play for two weeks later when Rowe came on against West Ham but shortly after his late arrival the Hammers doubled their win and sealed the three points.

Fin Stevens (Brentford)

Born: April 2003
Debut Age: 18 years, 9 months, 1 day

In 2020, Fin Stevens was playing non-league football with Worthing having been released from the Arsenal academy. At this stage he was identified by Brentford, who have a knack for acquiring under-the-radar talent. League opportunities have been scarce since the move but Stevens has regularly been on the bench, ready if needed. Named as a sub 29 times in the Championship, he has also been a fairly common name on the bench following Brentford’s promotion. Thanks to this he was able to come on for the final 14 minutes during a 4-1 defeat to Southampton in January 2022, quite the feat for someone playing non-league football two years earlier.

Harvey Elliott (Liverpool)

Born: April 2003
Debut Age: 16 years, 30 days

Harvey Elliott is the youngest player ever to feature in the Premier League in May 2019 against Wolves. He was able to break this record thanks to Scott Parker, then Fulham boss, who was quick to recognise his talents. Although it was little more than a nice gesture to bring Elliott on in the 88th minute given that Fulham were already relegated, it still shows how highly the midfielder was regarded. Purchased by Liverpool shortly after, he quickly became one of their top prospects following a hugely successful loan stint at Championship outfit Blackburn. Having impressed so much since then, Jurgen Klopp brought him into the first-team fold for the 2021/22 season.

Tyler Onyango (Everton)

Born: March 2003
Debut Age: 18 years, 8 months, 17 days

At the time of writing Tyler Onyango has featured twice in the Premier League for Everton although we use the word ‘feature’ very loosely indeed. On both occasions the midfielder came on in injury-time, so lacked any opportunity to make any real impact on proceedings. Even in other competitions the Luton-born lad is still waiting for first-team minutes but this will perhaps come in time.

Liam Delap (Man City)

Born: February 2003
Debut Age: 17 years, 7 months, 19 days

Given the riches Man City have at their disposal, you need to be quite the talent indeed to break into their first-team squad from the youth team. The club’s desire for immediate success has often meant young players lack the opportunities to grow at the club. It does occasionally happen though and Liam Delap could well be one of the exceptions. Son of throw-in specialist Rory Delap, he played the final half an hour of a 5-2 defeat to Leicester in September 2020. It was certainly not a debut to remember but he had at least scored his first senior goal (in the League Cup) just a few days prior.

Youngest Premier League Players Of All-Time

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Having provided an overview of the current crop of young players, it is now time to look at the youngest that have ever featured over the history of the Premier League. The only omission from this section is Harvey Elliott, the all-time youngest player, as he has already been mentioned above. He broke the existing record that had stood since 2007 by over a month, so he may top the table for quite some time.

Player Club Debut Debut Age
Harvey Elliott Fulham 4th May 2019 16y 30d
Matthew Briggs Fulham 13th May 2007 16y 2m 19d
Izzy Brown West Brom 4th May 2013 16y 3m 27d
Aaron Lennon Leeds 23rd Aug 2003 16y 4m 7d
Jose Baxter Everton 16th Aug 2008 16y 6m 9d
Rushian Hepburn-Murphy Aston Villa 14th Mar 2015 16y 6m 14d
Gary McSheffrey Coventry 27th Feb 1999 16y 6m 14d
Reece Oxford West Ham 9th Aug 2015 16y 6m 24d
Jack Robinson Liverpool 9th May 2010 16y 8m 7d
Jack Wilshere Arsenal 13th Sep 2008 16y 8m 12d

Matthew Briggs (Fulham)

Debut Age: 16 years, 2 months, 19 days
Debut Date: May 13th 2007

A 3-1 away defeat at Middlesbrough brought Fulham fans little joy but they would have been excited to see Matthew Briggs become the youngest player to play in the Premier League. Having only fairly recently turned 16, the defender came on for Moritz Volts in the 77th minute and stopped Boro adding to their advantage. Despite this showing, Briggs had to wait over three years before starting a Premier League match for the Cottagers. Lacking opportunities at Craven Cottage, he went on a variety of loans before signing for Millwall and then Colchester United.

Although Fulham was the club that put his name on the map, the left-back ended up playing more times internationally for Guyana (15) than he did for the Londoners (13).

Izzy Brown (West Brom)

Debut Age: 16 years, 3 months, 27 days
Debut Date: May 4th 2013

Izzy Brown was regarded as hot-prospect even before he played the final four minutes of a 3-2 defeat to Wigan Athletic. Chelsea had been one of the admirers of the youngster and they scooped up his services shortly afterwards. Much like many Chelsea youngsters, Brown ended up going out on several loan spells although he generally failed to make much of an impact.

Having failed to live up to expectations and having featured in just one league game for Chelsea, the Blues eventually let his contract expire in the summer of 2021. As a free-agent, he then signed a deal with Championship club Preston but disaster stuck as he ruptured his Achilles during pre-season training.

Aaron Lennon (Leeds)

Debut Age: 16 years, 4 months, 7 days
Debut Date: August 23rd 2003

Aaron Lennon made his Premier League debut against the club where he would spend the bulk of his career. Less than two years after his 11-minute debut cameo against Spurs, the tricky winger was scooped up by Daniel Levy for a £1m fee. Prior to his move, Lennon was playing regularly (in the Championship) for Leeds and took little time to establish himself at Tottenham. He ended up featuring 266 times for the north Londoners in the Premier League before adding to this tally with Everton and Burnley. With almost 400 English top-flight appearances in total, Lennon is arguably the most successful player from this list.

Jose Baxter (Everton)

Debut Age: 16 years, 6 months, 9 days
Debut Date: August 16th 2008

When bursting onto the scene in 2008, Jose Baxter was considered to be something of a wonderkid. Sadly, his career never amounted to what it could have been thanks to a series of off-field problems. Banned from football for 12 months after failing a drugs test, the midfielder suffered from bouts of depression and poor decisions as stardom came too quickly for him. He never fully recovered from his lows, despite a fairly promising stint at Oldham Athletic, before retiring aged just 29. He has since, however, taken up a position working with the Everton academy in which he will try and keep their youngster from repeating his mistakes.

Rushian Hepburn-Murphy (Aston Villa)

Debut Age: 16 years, 6 months, 14 days
Debut Date: March 14th 2015

Despite only making his debut in 2015, you most likely will not recognise the name of this striker. The former hot prospect played about 10 minutes of Premier League football across two seasons for Aston Villa and failed to get a real chance even following their relegation to the Championship. With the Villans in the second tier, the local-born lad featured for about 150 minutes spread over 11 substitute appearances. Lacking the required ability at this level, he made a permanent move to Cypriot side Pafos FC in 2020.

Gary McSheffrey (Coventry)

Debut Age: 16 years, 6 months, 14 days
Debut Date: 27th February 1999

The only player to debut pre-2000 that is young enough to feature on this list is Gary McSheffrey. He first appeared as an 89th-minute sub against an Aston Villa side that fielded a full starting 11 of English players, something that has not happened since in the Premier League. After just four Premier League appearances as a youngster, McSheffrey could not register a top-flight goal but did so much later in 2007 when playing for Birmingham. He was never quite up to the rigours of the division but regularly proved to be a useful player in the Championship.

Reece Oxford (West Ham)

Debut Age: 16 years, 6 months, 24 days
Debut Date: August 9th 2015

Most 16 years old make their debut from the substitutes’ bench, playing just a small part in the match. This is not true of Reece Oxford though who not only started in midfield but put in a man of the match performance in an away victory over Arsenal. To see a 16 year old old look so impressive in what was a very challenging Premier League fixture is such an incredibly rare sight. Almost undroppable following this showing, Oxford started the next match but was demoted to the bench afterwards. It was not until March when he ended up playing another full half of league football and opportunities further dried up after this. Despite all the initial promise, West Ham ended up loaning the defender out on four occasions before selling him to German side Augsburg.

Jack Robinson (Liverpool)

Debut Age: 16 years, 8 months, 7 days
Debut Date: May 9th 2010

Although Harvey Elliot debuted in the Premier League before Jack Robinson, the latter remains the youngest player to feature for Liverpool in a league contest. Having come on as a sub during a 0-0 draw with Hull, he then enjoyed a first league start a year later in April 2011, a resounding 5-0 win over Birmingham. There was more than a nine-year wait for Premier League start number two though with the 5ft 11” defender then playing for the recently promoted Sheffield United.

Jack Wilshere (Arsenal)

Debut Age: 16 years, 8 months, 12 days
Debut Date: September 13th 2008

Few would argue that Jack Wilshere is one of the most naturally gifted players that made their Premier League debut as a 16 year old. Although he only got six minutes of action at this age, he impressed as a 17 year old when loaned out to Bolton. Upon his return from this season-long arrangement, Wilshere established himself as an Arsenal regular, playing 35 times during the 2010/11 campaign. Sadly, an enormous injury list ended up taking its toll and after leaving Bournemouth in 2021, the midfielder was left without a club despite only being aged 30.