Revealed! The 20 youngest Champions League goalscorers – and what happened to them
14. Roque Santa Cruz: 18 years, 71 days
Bayern Munich (vs PSV), 1999/2000
Paraguayan prodigy Santa Cruz had already scored in the Copa Libertadores when Bayern Munich nabbed the 17-year-old in 1999. With his lustrous locks and undeniably cool striker name, the powerful centre-forward seemed destined for glory – and he managed to score in his first Champions League season, albeit in a 2-1 loss to PSV.
Yet despite notable highs, including a 23-goal season for Blackburn, this Roque star didn’t quite live up to the hype. The 37-year-old, now back playing for his first club Olimpia, has a Champions League winners’ medal from his time in Munich, but managed only seven total goals in the competition.
13. Andriy Shevchenko: 18 years, 69 days
Dynamo Kiev (vs Bayern Munich), 1994/95
Forget the impersonator who rocked up at Chelsea to depress Jose Mourinho – the prime Shevchenko was a superb all-round striker. The 2004 Ballon d’Or winner scored the first of his 48 Champions League goals in a 4-1 loss to Bayern Munich, but would form a lethal partnership in Kiev with Sergei Rebrov.
Unlike Rebrov, Shevchenko took his goals with him when he left Dynamo, scoring 173 times in seven seasons at Milan. He won this competition in 2003, but had a love-hate relationship with final shootouts: Sheva scored the decisive spot-kick as Milan pipped Juventus in 2003, but saw a penalty saved by Liverpool’s Jerzy Dudek in 2005’s ever-so-slightly more entertaining showpiece.
12. Kylian Mbappe: 18 years, 64 days
Monaco (vs Manchester City), 2016/17
Mbappe beating Nicolas Otamendi for pace (who knew?) to score his first Champions League goal got a bit lost in the thrills of Monaco’s 5-3 loss to Manchester City, yet it proved crucial. The French forward scored again in the second leg as a 3-1 win put Pep Guardiola’s side out on away goals.
Strikes against Borussia Dortmund (three of them), then Juventus followed as Monaco reached the semi-finals. Mbappe was on a hot streak that, frankly, is still going on. Now at PSG, the 19-year-old World Cup winner already has 12 Champions League goals, having overtaken Pat Kluivert as the most prolific teenager the competition has ever seen.
11. Samuel Kuffour: 18 years, 61 days
Bayern Munich (vs Spartak Moscow), 1994/95
If we had to guess which Champions League-winning defender was the youngest to score in the competition, we’d probably have gone for a prolific one like, say, Sergio Ramos. Isn’t the answer always Sergio Ramos? In this case, no!
Rarely a goal threat throughout his career, Kuffour rose like an eagle – albeit a slightly low-soaring one – to score his first ever Bayern goal in a 2-2 draw with Spartak in 1994. The great Ghanaian centre-back famously pummelled the turf after his side lost to Manchester United five years later, yet was part of the Munich side that won this competition in 2001. The header would remain his first and last Champions League goal.
10. Mariyan Ognyanov: 18 years, 59 days
Levski Sofia (vs Chelsea), 2006/07
Less than two months after his 18th birthday, Ognyanov scored the first ever goal for a Bulgarian club in the Champions League. A momentous event, slightly spoiled by the fact that it arrived the 89th minute and after a Didier Drogba hat-trick, rendering it a mere consolation in Levski Sofia's 3-1 loss to Chelsea.
Still, attacking midfielder Ognyanov gave it the big ’un, sliding on his knees in celebration. Unfortunately this would not be the strike that made Mariyan, as it was his only goal in the competition. He’s had a decent career in Bulgaria since, picked up an international cap in 2013 and currently turns out for Varna-based Cherno More.
9. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: 18 years, 44 days
Arsenal (vs Olympiakos), 2011/12
The youngest English player to score in this competition, the Ox took the record from his then-team-mate Theo Walcott when he netted just eight minutes into his Champions League debut. Oxlade-Chamberlain’s strike in a 2-1 win came only six weeks after the midfielder had moved from Southampton to Arsenal as a 17-year-old.
After seven seasons in north London, Oxlade-Chamberlain left for Liverpool in 2017 and was enjoying a superb run of form in last season’s Champions League until a serious knee injury saw him stretchered off in the semi-final against Roma. It meant he missed the tournament’s final and the 2018 World Cup, with the 25-year-old not set to return until 2019.
8. Karim Benzema: 17 years, 355 days
Lyon (vs Rosenborg), 2005/06
Only eight under-18s have scored in the Champions League – and teens probably don’t come much moodier than this French forward. Benzema scored his first professional goal in Lyon’s 2-1 victory, and his continued good form in this competition drew admiring glances from Old Trafford.
It was Real Madrid who snapped up the 21-year-old in 2009, however, and Benzema has since won the competition four times amid occasional criticism that he doesn’t always score enough for a line-leading striker. But his unselfish play, bulging medal collection and the fact that he’s netted 56 Champions League goals (putting him joint-fourth with Ruud van Nistelrooy on the all-time table) probably does enough to quieten most knockers.