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10 schoolboy footballers who debuted in the men's game – and what happened to them

Freddy Adu

Fernando Ovelar made headlines worldwide after scoring his first senior goal at the age of 14. But the Paraguayan is far from the first disgustingly young hopeful to make his mark...

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Sergio Aguero

Sergio Aguero

There's something in the South American water. Aguero wasted little time making an impression in senior football, having only just turned 15 when he represented Independiente for the first time. Still 11 months shy of his 16th birthday, the striker broke Maradona's record to become the youngest-ever player in Argentina's top flight.

Aguero had to remain patient for his next senior outing, but he later became the youngest all-time debutant in the Copa Libertadores, a record he held for three years. When he was 17, he scored what many Independiente fans regard to be the club's greatest goal. The Manchester City marksman has a nine-year-old son, Benjamin, who has six years to match the feats of his dad and grandfather (Maradona's daughter is the child's mother).

Ianis Stoica

Hopes are high for Stoica in Romania, but his father - the former Steaua Bucharest and Romania defender Pompiliu - will be keen to ensure that his son's feet remain firmly on the ground.

At the scarely believable age of 14, Stoica Jr. became Steaua's youngest ever player and goalscorer last year, finding the net after coming off the bench in a 6-1 defeat of Sanatatea Cluj. He's made three more first-team appearances since then, as well as appearing three times for Romania's under-16s.

Freddy Adu

Freddy Adu

The classic case. Fans of Championship Manager 4 will fondly remember Adu, who invariably went on to become one of the best players in the virtual world. The hype around the "next Pele" was ginormous in real life too; the American became the highest-paid and youngest player in MLS after breaking through at D.C. United when he was just 14.

A trial with Manchester United followed, but Adu was unable to win a contract at Old Trafford and his career soon unravelled. The attacking midfielder, still only 29, spent four years on the books of Benfica but is now back in US football's second tier with the Las Vegas Lights.

Pele

Pele

Adu was tipped to follow Pele for a reason - the Brazilian had also been a teenage sensation, but unlike the American went on to realise his potential... and then some. Considered by many to be the greatest player of all time, Pele made his Santos bow two months before his 16th birthday, scoring in a 7-1 thrashing of Corinthians.

Two years later he lifted the World Cup with Brazil at 17 - and to this day remains the youngest ever winner of the competition. Pele was named Young Player of the Tournament after scoring six times, including twice in the final against Sweden. He remains the only player to win the World Cup three times. 

SEE ALSO Exclusive interview: Pele on his Santos years

Diego Maradona

Diego Maradona

Maradona, unsurprisingly, was another early bloomer. The future World Cup winner pulled on an Argentinos Juniors shirt for the first time 10 days before his 16th birthday; fewer than four months later, he became the youngster player in Argentine national team history.

English audiences caught a glimpse of the teenage Maradona in 1980, when the forward turned in a dazzling display in a Wembley friendly. Six years later, he would play even better against the same opposition at the 1986 World Cup...