What happened to the 20 youngest Champions League goalscorers?
Barcelona's 16-year-old prodigy Ansu Fati has already made club history and scored twice in La Liga this season, but now he could become the youngest Champions League goalscorer of all time – and has virtually the entire season to do it.
Fati will be 16 years and 322 days when Barça kick off their 2019/20 Champions League campaign at Borussia Dortmund. If he can get his name on the scoresheet soon, he'll take some beating on this list. Starting with...
20. Lionel Messi: 18 years, 132 days
Barcelona (vs Panathinaikos), 2005/06
This guy. Lionel Messi is more accustomed to being around the top of most goalscoring lists, but unfortunately the Flea was an ancient 18 years and 132 days old when he recorded his first Champions League strike.
Leo stuck in his false teeth and nabbed an all-important third goal in Barcelona’s 5-0 group-stage win over Panathinaikos in 2005, meaning the Argentine genius only just sneaks into this list in 20th place. The fact that he has gone on to win this trophy four times with Barça, scoring another 111 Champions League goals (and counting) and becoming arguably the greatest player who ever lived probably means he’ll get over it.
19. Raul: 18 years, 113 days
Real Madrid (vs Ferencvaros), 1995/96
In 1995, Raul scored the first of his 71 goals in this competition with a close-range header after Hungarian side Ferencvaros chose not to bother marking the weedy Spanish teenager. Raul enjoyed it so much he made it 2-0 a minute later, before rounding off a 6-1 win with his hat-trick goal.
The Bernabeu had a new hero. But while Raul would miss out on Europe next season after Real finished sixth (!) in La Liga, he went on to lift the trophy three times, scoring in two finals. To this day, he holds the record as the youngest ever player to score a Champions League hat-trick.
18. Per Ciljan Skjelbred: 18 years, 90 days
Rosenborg (vs Olympiakos), 2005/06
Skjelbred’s dream introduction to European football quickly turned into a nightmare. The Norwegian playmaker scored on his Champions League debut, netting in Rosenborg’s 3-1 victory. His dinked finish came against grey-haired goalie Antonios Nikopolidis, giving it a lad-versus-dad quality.
Unfortunately the next group match against Olympiakos featured Skjelbred’s lower leg being broken in two places after a brutal tackle from Ieroklis Stoltidis. He returned in 2006 and has had a decent career since – the 32-year-old turns out for Hertha Berlin in the Bundesliga – but is yet to add to his sole Champions League goal.
17. Patrick Kluivert: 18 years, 89 days
Ajax (vs AEK Athens), 1994/95
The Dutch striker’s first goal in this competition – the winner in a 2-1 victory – is totally overshadowed by his second. Seven months later, Kluivert came off the bench for Louis van Gaal’s Ajax to score the only goal in the final against a Milan side featuring Paolo Maldini, Franco Baresi and Alessandro Costacurta in defence.
Milan signed the hot prospect two years later, yet Kluivert failed to adapt and moved to Barcelona, where he spent six good seasons. The striker also went on to score 40 goals for the Netherlands, becoming their all-time top scorer until Robin van Persie passed his total in 2013.
Still the youngest player ever to score in a Champions League final, Kluivert left big shoes to fill for his son, Justin – who hit the net on his Champions League debut for Roma in 2018/19 at the crumbly old age of 19.
16. Mario Balotelli: 18 years, 85 days
Inter (vs Anorthosis), 2008/09
Of all the games from Inter’s Treble-winning season that Jose Mourinho watches at 3am, we’re going to assume that the 3-3 draw with Anorthosis probably isn’t top of the list. Yet that group game saw the mercurial Balotelli get off the mark in Europe.
Mourinho and Super Mario was never an ideal match, and while Balotelli showed flashes of brilliance after leaving Inter to play for his old boss Roberto Mancini at Manchester City, his star has gradually fallen. He now finds himself at local club Brescia, aged 29 and far away from that Golden Boy Award in 2010.
15. Nigel de Jong: 18 years 80 days
Ajax (vs Arsenal), 2002/03
Huh? It’s rather surprising to see ‘The Lawnmower’ on a list of young goalscorers, as we hardly remember him scoring at all. The Dutch defensive midfielder netted his first senior goal for Ajax at Highbury, slipping by Ashley Cole to finish handsomely and secure a 1-1 draw.
De Jong landed on his backside after hitting the net, yet he’d make a career of putting opponents on theirs. The tough-tackling holding man went on to leave his mark at Hamburg, Manchester City, Milan – as well as on Xabi Alonso’s chest in the 2010 World Cup Final. De Jong is still playing, for Al-Shahania in Qatar, at the age of 34.
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 38-year-old, 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 20-year-old World Cup winner already has 14 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.
NEXT: Serious pub ammo for the player at No.1...