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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

The youngest England debutants this century

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Kobbie Mainoo made his England debut during the Three Lions’ defeat to Brazil on Saturday, with the Manchester United midfielder capping a meteoric recent rise.

Mainoo’s performances in just 23 appearances for his club side have earned a maiden England call-up this month and the 18-year-old was introduced for the final 15 minutes at Wembley.

The teenager showed some neat touches in his short cameo and will be hoping to do enough to impress Gareth Southgate ahead of this summer’s European Championship.

Mainoo is not the first 18-year-old to make his debut for England with 14 players aged 18 or under having debuted for the national team this century.

The youngest England debutants this century:

Rico Lewis – 18 years 11 months 30 days (2023)

Rico Lewis was handed his senior debut for England in November 2023, appearing as the Three Lions drew 1-1 with North Macedonia in Euro 2024 qualification. The teenager has broken into the Manchester City side under Pep Guardiola, who has lavished praise on the Bury-born defender.

“If he was a little bit taller he’d be considered one of the best players in the Premier League,” Guardiola said of the 5ft 7in Lewis in November.

“He’s an exceptional player. Last season he arrived and started to settle with us, every game he plays to the highest standards. We are really really pleased that an academy player can be a regular player, really pleased.”

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Mason Greenwood – 18 years 11 months 05 days (2020)

Mason Greenwood’s emergence at Manchester United saw him match some club icons, with only Norman Whiteside (39) and George Best (37) scoring more goals for the club as a teenager (32). He made his debut in a 1-0 win over Iceland in September 2020, though was afterwards fined alongside Phil Foden for breaching Iceland’s coronavirus rules.

Kobbie Mainoo – 18 years 11 months 04 days (2024)

Kobbie Mainoo’s whirlwind introduction to senior football was capped with a first appearance for England at Wembley this week.

The 18-year-old has been backed for inclusion with the Three Lions at Euro 2024 this summer, having impressed at Manchester United with his elegance in possession and mature midfield performances.

Kobbie Mainoo really made his full Premier League, Champions League and England debut all in the space of 5 months 📈 pic.twitter.com/56onFnruqr

— Football on TNT Sports (@footballontnt) March 24, 2024

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – 18 years 09 months 11 days (2012)

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain made his England debut at 18, following in the footsteps of his father, Mark Chamberlain, who won eight caps for the national team. Oxlade-Chamberlain has since eclipsed that haul, scoring seven times in 35 caps, though his last appearance came in 2019.

Luke Shaw – 18 years 07 months 21 days (2014)

Luke Shaw broke into the England set-up ahead of the 2014 World Cup and was named in the final squad for the tournament.

In 2021, he scored the fastest goal in European Championship final history after netting two minutes into England’s clash with Italy.

Jack Wilshere – 18 years 07 months 10 days (2010)

A wonder of what might have been will always be associated with Jack Wilshere, a precociously gifted midfielder who failed to hit the heights once expected after an injury-hit career.

Wilshere, in style, was continental in comparison to English midfielders at the time of his emergence and went on to win 34 caps for the Three Lions. However, the last of those appearances came aged just 24, as fitness problems plagued the former Arsenal star.

Iconic Performances: A teenage Wilshere takes on Barcelona’s midfield masters

Marcus Rashford – 18 years 06 months 26 days (2016)

After marking his Manchester United debut and Premier League debut with braces in a stunning first-team emergence, Marcus Rashford took just three minutes to open his England account against Australia in 2016.

Having scored eight goals in 18 games during the season’s run-in for Manchester United, the 18-year-old earned himself a place on the plane for Euro 2016.

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Jadon Sancho – 18 years 06 months 17 days (2020)

Jadon Sancho took an alternative route into the England set-up, choosing to leave the Manchester City academy to sign for Borussia Dortmund.

A breakout season saw Sancho named in the Bundesliga Team of the Season in 2018/19, before achieving that feat for a second successive campaign the following season. An England debut arrived in a goalless draw with Croatia in 2020. He has since scored three goals in 23 games.

Micah Richards – 18 years 04 months 22 days (2006)

Micah Richards famously proclaimed that he ‘burst onto the scene’ as a youngster, having become the youngest-ever defender to feature for England in November 2006.

He made 13 appearances for the national team and also featured for Great Britain at the 2012 London Olympics.

The youngest City men’s players to start for @England! 🙌🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿@MicahRichards: 18 years old
Rico Lewis: 18 years old@PhilFoden: 20 years old pic.twitter.com/PGi7IhN5hx

— Manchester City (@ManCity) November 20, 2023

Callum Hudson-Odoi – 18 years 04 months 15 days (2019)

Callum Hudson-Odoi was billed as one of England’s brightest talents in 2019, having formed part of the u-17 team that won the World Cup alongside Jadon Sancho, Conor Gallagher and Phil Foden.

He won three caps for England as an 18-year-old, becoming the youngest player to debut for the Three Lions in a competitive game. Injuries stunted his progress at Chelsea before the winger completed a cut-price move to Nottingham Forest in 2023.

Raheem Sterling – 17 years 11 months 06 days (2012)

Raheem Sterling made his England debut at 17, featuring in a 4-2 friendly defeat to Sweden best remembered for Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s four-goal haul for the Scandinavians.

Sterling cemented his place as a regular over the following years and has won 82 caps for England, scoring 20 goals. The winger was named in the Team of the Tournament as England reached the final of Euro 2020 but has fallen out of favour in recent squads.

Jude Bellingham – 17 years 04 months 14 days (2020)

The third-youngest debutant in England history, Jude Bellingham made his first appearance for the Three Lions against the Republic of Ireland in November 2020. The following summer, he was included in the squad for the European Championship but featured sporadically as Gareth Southgate’s side reached the final.

Three years on, Bellingham is starring at Real Madrid and will be the driving force in England’s bid to win Euro 2024 this summer. Still just 20, he has already won 28 caps.

Wayne Rooney – 17 years 03 months 19 days (2004)

Rooney-mania took hold of English football during the early noughties after the fresh-faced Liverpudlian announced his arrival in the Premier League. After scoring a stunning winner against Arsenal aged just 16, he did not have to wait long for a full England bow.

He became England’s youngest debutant at that time when facing Australia, before becoming England’s youngest-ever scorer after scoring against Macedonia aged 17 years and 317 days.

The start of something special ⭐️@WayneRooney scored his first #ThreeLions goal against tonight’s opponents back in 2003! pic.twitter.com/tiOIsoZPnu

— England (@England) June 19, 2023

The following summer, the teenager starred at Euro 2004, scoring four times during England’s run to the quarter-finals. It was the start of a record-breaking career for Rooney, who at the time of his 120th appearance for England was the record goalscorer in the national team’s history (53). No outfield player has ever won more caps.

Noughties Nines: Wayne Rooney – An inimitable emergence

Theo Walcott – 17 years 02 months 14 days (2006)

Theo Walcott broke Rooney’s record as England’s youngest-ever player when making his debut against Hungary in 2006.

Walcott’s debut incredibly came before he had even made a Premier League appearance, as Sven-Göran Eriksson took a gamble on the teenager who had shone at Southampton before joining Arsenal. He included Walcott in his squad for the 2006 World Cup, though he did not make an appearance.

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