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Ansu Fati becomes youngest Champions League goalscorer – but what happened to the others?

Ansu Fati youngest Champions League goalscorer

Barcelona's 17-year-old prodigy Ansu Fati already made club history by scoring twice in his first three La Liga games this season, but has now become the youngest Champions League goalscorer of all time after netting Barça's late winner against Inter Milan at San Siro. 

Fati was a mere 16 years and 322 days when Barça kicked off their 2019/20 Champions League campaign at Borussia Dortmund, and had practically the entire campaign to break the record previously held by... well, see for yourself. It's cracking pub ammo no more... 

21. Lionel Messi: 18 years, 132 days

Barcelona (vs Panathinaikos), 2005/06

OK, so we'll include this guy too. 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.

20. 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.

19. 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.

18. Patrick Kluivert: 18 years, 89 days

Ajax (vs AEK Athens), 1994/95

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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.

17. 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.

16. Nigel de Jong: 18 years 80 days

Ajax (vs Arsenal), 2002/03

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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.

15. 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.

14. 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.

13. 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.

12. 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.

11. 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, and picked up an international cap in 2013.

10. 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 the 2017/18 Champions League until a serious knee injury saw him stretchered off in the semi-final against Roma. It meant he missed that final, 2018 World Cup and Liverpool's stunning run in 2018/19 – but now he's back and ready to roll once more. 

9. 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 60 Champions League goals (putting him fourth on the all-time list) probably does enough to quieten most knockers.

8. Aaron Ramsey: 17 years, 300 days

Arsenal (vs Fenerbahce), 2008/09

The Welsh midfielder became the second 1990s-born player to score in the Champions League when his shot pinged off the post and in to seal a 5-2 win for Arsenal. The teenage prodigy had left Cardiff for London that summer and would go on to prove himself a scorer of spectacular goals for club and country.

Ramsey has clearly got it in for Turkish sides too, as he later scored a brace against Fenerbahce in a Champions League qualifier, as well as a jaw-dropping long-range half-volley against Galatasaray in 2014. He won three FA Cups with the Gunners, scoring the decisive goal in two finals, but is now at Juventus after a free transfer switch in summer 2019.

7. Breel Embolo: 17 years, 263 days

Basel (vs  Ludogorets), 2014/15

The highly touted Swiss striker made his debut at 16, scored after just four minutes, then netted in the Champions League the following season. The inevitable hype train kept picking up steam as the teenager rattled home 17 goals in all competitions in 2014/15, with scouts eagerly noting the 6ft striker’s mix of physical and technical attributes.

Unfortunately, it hasn’t gone quite to plan after a €20m move to Schalke in 2016. A foul in a game against Augsburg left Embolo with a fractured ankle and ligament damage, causing him to miss almost a year of football. The striker returned, was part of Switzerland's squad at the World Cup, and scored his first Champions League goal for Schalke in 2018/19. We’ll have to wait and see whether the 22-year-old joins the ranks of hits or misses on this list, though: he joined Borussia Monchengladbach in the summer.

6. Martin Klein: 17 years, 240 days

Sparta Prague (vs Panathinaikos), 2001/02

If you needed confirmation that Klein is not among the superstar names that populate this feature, it’s the fact that if you look for his name on a popular search engine, the first ‘Martin Klein’ to turn up is an Estonian wrestler from the 1912 Olympics. Our Martin Klein is instead a Czech centre-back who scored a late Champions League goal in a 2-1 loss for Sparta Prague. Of course he is.

At least 2001/02 gave the teenage Klein a chance to play against Real Madrid in the competition, as Sparta Prague made a respectable run to the second group stage. Klein’s career afterwards took him to the Kazakhstan Premier League and the Maltese Premier League – and earned him a Czech Republic cap in 2009 – but never again to the Champions League. Now 35, and playing for third-tier Rakovnik back home.

5. Cesc Fabregas: 17 years, 218 days

Arsenal (vs Rosenborg), 2004/05

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By the time he scored his first Champions League goal in a 5-1 win over Rosenborg, Fabregas had already become Arsenal’s youngest ever first-team player, youngest ever goalscorer and chucked pizza over Alex Ferguson. Some going for the La Masia product, snaffled by Arsenal at 16 and a prodigious talent who’s just about lived up to the hype.

Yet while his career has featured World Cup and double European Championship honours for Spain, a Liga title after his return to Barcelona in 2011 and two Premier League titles with Chelsea, Fabregas has never actually won this competition.

The closest he came was with Arsenal in 2006, when the then-19-year-old started for the side which lost 2-1 to Barcelona in Paris. At 32 years old and now with an ailing Monaco side, Fabregas has seemingly run out of time to win the Champions League – a rare omission on his otherwise glittering CV.

4. Bojan Krkic: 17 years, 217 days

Barcelona (vs Schalke), 2007/08

Bojan began with a bang. The first player born in the 1990s to score in the Champions League did it not in a group-stage thrashing, but by netting the only goal, away, in a quarter-final first leg. It was part of a special debut season for the artful 5ft 7in attacker who broke Lionel Messi’s record for the youngest Barcelona player and scored 12 goals in all competitions.

He was immediately touted for greatness; the next Masia legend. Unfortunately the ‘new Messi’ tag proved a millstone. Bojan won this competition in 2009 and 2011, but was an unused substitute in both finals. After the second of those victories, Bojan left for Roma, and later played for Milan, Ajax and then Stoke. He has shown glimpses of his gifts, but sustained form has been a problem.

In May 2018, the now-29-year-old opened up on how bouts of anxiety hindered his career, and even stopped him going to Euro 2008 with Spain. Bojan has had several highs, even since leaving Barcelona, such as an Eredivisie title in 2014. Yet when it comes to not living up to those great expectations, as the man himself says: “Well, yes, if you compare me with Messi… but what career did you expect?”

3. Mateo Kovacic: 17 years, 215 days

Dinamo Zagreb (vs Lyon), 2011/12

Nothing like being thrown in the at the deep end. Having helped his side qualify for the group stage, Croatian midfielder Kovacic made his Champions League debut four months after his 17th birthday, against Real Madrid. That match ended in a narrow 1-0 defeat for Zagreb, but Kovacic would later achieve a moment of personal glory by putting his side 1-0 up against Lyon.

Clearly offended by seeing a player still several months below drinking age score past them, Lyon responded by winning that game 7-1. However, Kovacic himself has progressed well since, becoming Zagreb’s youngest ever captain, moving to Inter Milan in 2013, then to Real Madrid in 2015.

Kovacic played over a hundred games for Real in three seasons, yet this inventive, versatile midfielder never quite cracked Madrid’s imposing first XI. After making a loan move to Chelsea in summer 2018, the 25-year-old made it permanent a year later.

2. Peter Ofori-Quaye: 17 years, 194 days

Olympiakos (vs Rosenborg), 1997/98

Of course it is! Ghanaian striker Ofori-Quaye made himself a legend – or at least a handy piece of pub quiz trivia – by coming off the bench to produce a neat turn and finish for Olympiakos. The fact that it was a consolation in a 5-1 defeat to Rosenborg does arguably steal some of its lustre.

Ofori-Quaye was a hot prospect at the time. After arriving in Greece from Ghana, the striker was scoring goals for Kalamata at the scarcely credible age of 15. Champions Olympiakos signed him in 1997 and he spent six years there, scored three Champions League goals and played for Ghana (above) at the 2000 Africa Cup of Nations.

However, Ofori-Quaye never really lived up to his early promise and Olympiakos let the striker go in 2003. Stints at Liberty Professionals, OFI Crete, AEL Limassol and Accra Hearts of Oak (among others) followed. Now 39, Ofori-Quaye last played for a club in 2012, so his days of Champions League heroics [citation needed] are probably in the past. But we’ll always have Norway, Peter.

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