Young Guns: The Youngest Premier League Players
Have you ever wanted to know who the youngest Premier League players of all time are? We’ve compiled a list of the top 10 for you in our latest countdown.
Ethan Nwaneri (15y 181d)
Arsenal vs. Brentford (19 September 2022)
Ethan Nwaneri became the youngest player in Premier League history in September 2022, when the 15-year-old entered the pitch as a last-minute substitute in Arsenal’s 3-0 away win at Brentford.
Becoming the first player under 16 years old to play Premier League football, as well as for Arsenal in any competition, he shattered the competition record previously set by Harvey Elliott in May 2019.
Nwaneri – younger than Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium – was born in 2007. The Arsenal club record for the youngest player to make their debut in a competitive fixture was previously held by Cesc Fàbregas (16 years, 177 days) while he takes over from Jack Wilshere (16 years, 256 days) as the youngest player to play a league match for the Gunners.
Mikel Arteta showed faith in Nwaneri to step up to the first team after some impressive performances for the Arsenal under-18 side, and his appearance came just a week after the British record was broken by Northern Irish schoolboy Christopher Atherton, who became the youngest senior footballer in the United Kingdom when he played for Glenavon aged 13 years, 329 days old.
Harvey Elliott (16y, 30d)
Fulham vs. Wolves (4 May 2019)
Harvey Elliott became the youngest Premier League player to make an appearance in May 2019 when he came on as an 88th-minute substitute during Fulham’s 1-0 away defeat to Wolves at Molineux Stadium – a record that was broken in September 2022 by Arsenal’s Ethan Nwaneri.
Now one of the most promising young players in the Premier League, Elliott was only 16 years and 30 days old on the day of this match, but Fulham boss Scott Parker decided that he was worthy of a place in the matchday squad for the already-relegated side.
Just under three months after making this appearance – and a further 16 minutes for the London club in their following Premier League match, Elliott signed for Liverpool for an undisclosed fee and made his league debut for the Reds in their 2-0 win over Sheffield United in January 2020 as a 90th-minute sub. In doing so, he became the second-youngest player to play for Liverpool in the Premier League (16y 273d) after Jack Robinson in May 2010 (more on him, further down).
The English youngster finally made his first Premier League start on the second weekend of the 2021-22 season, during Liverpool’s win over Burnley.
Matthew Briggs (16y, 68d)
Fulham vs. Middlesbrough (13 May 13 2007)
Upon entering the pitch during Fulham’s 3-1 Premier League away defeat to Middlesbrough on the final day of the 2006-07 season, Matthew Briggs became the youngest player to make an appearance in the competition at 16 years, 68 days old. That record has since been broken by Harvey Elliott (also for Fulham), but it stood for 12 years until Elliott’s appearance in May 2019.
He had to wait over three years longer to get his first Premier League start – and his next appearance in the competition – in Fulham’s 1-0 defeat to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Left-back Briggs went on to play 13 times in the Premier League across five different seasons – all for Fulham – but spent most of his time at the club out on loan before eventually dropping down the leagues for regular playing time.
Isaiah Brown (16y, 117d)
West Brom vs. Wigan (4 May 2013)
Big things were expected of midfielder Izzy Brown following his Premier League debut at just 16 years old in May 2013. This game for West Bromwich Albion in a 3-2 home defeat to Wigan was his only league appearance for the Baggies before he made a move to Chelsea just months later.
He would go on to make just one Premier League appearance in his eight years at Chelsea but did appear 13 times for Brighton in the competition in 2017-18 whilst on one of his many loan deals from the Blues. Brown made more appearances in the Dutch top-flight (22) while on loan at Vitesse from Chelsea in 2015-16 than he has in the Premier League since his debut eight years ago.
Aaron Lennon (16y, 129d)
Leeds United vs. Tottenham (23 August 2003)
Of the 14 youngest players to make their Premier League debut, Aaron Lennon is the only player to have made over 200 appearances in the competition (416 at the time of writing). Lennon’s first appearance in August 2003 came for boyhood club Leeds United against the team he’d go on to make the most appearances for in the Premier League: Spurs (266). His 11-minute cameo as a substitute was a Premier League record at the time of the appearance but has since been overtaken by three younger players. However, Lennon remains the youngest player in Premier League history to assist a goal, which came in his eighth appearance in the competition against Arsenal in November 2003 at the age of 16 years, 199 days.
The former Tottenham Hotspur winger remains one of only 12 players to have scored a Premier League goal as a child and as an adult. We won’t reveal the other players to you here, but if you really want to know who they are then ask us here and we might be kind enough to give you the answer.
Lennon went on to play for England in the 2006 and 2010 World Cup finals, as the third-youngest player to ever represent the Three Lions in the tournament and one of only five teenagers to do so.
Jose Baxter (16y, 191d)
Everton vs. Blackburn (16 August 2008)
If you were asked to guess Everton’s youngest ever Premier League debutant it would probably be Wayne Rooney that would first to come to mind. If not then you might pick James Vaughan, with the former Toffee the youngest scorer in Premier League history at 16 years, 270 days. Not many of you would guess Jose Baxter.
Baxter was just 16 years, 191 days old when he debuted against Blackburn Rovers in August 2008 – 79 days younger than Vaughan and 106 days younger than Rooney on their Premier League debuts for Everton. Baxter would go on to make three top-flight appearances in the opening month of the 2008-09, but then only made four more subsequently and never appeared in the competition outside his teenage years.
Rushian Hepburn-Murphy (16y, 198d)
Aston Villa vs. Sunderland (14 March 2015)
Rushian Hepburn-Murphy made his Premier League debut for Aston Villa in March 2014 as an 83rd-minute substitute during their 4-0 win over Sunderland. With this appearance, he became the second-youngest player to appear for Aston Villa in league competition behind only Jimmy Brown (15 years, 349 days) back in September 1969. His appearance came as a replacement for striker Christian Benteke but, unfortunately for Villa, he wasn’t able to replicate the Belgian’s feats for the club.
He would go on to make just one more Premier League appearance for Villa, over a year later in May 2016 against Newcastle before their relegation to the Championship, where he played 10 more times in league competition ahead of his release in the summer of 2020.
Gary McSheffrey (16y, 198d)
Coventry City vs. Aston Villa (27 February 1999)
Gary McSheffrey is the joint-sixth youngest player to ever make their debut in the Premier League, at the same age as Rushian Hepburn-Murphy. The forward appeared in Coventry City’s 4-1 win over Aston Villa in February 1999 at the age of 16 years, 198 days old as an 89th-minute substitute.
This match was also the last time that a side named a full starting XI of English players, with Aston Villa’s John Gregory selecting 11 Englishmen – a tactic that clearly didn’t work well considering the heavy defeat, and something that hasn’t been repeated in the Premier League since.
McSheffrey didn’t score in any of his four Premier League appearances for Coventry as a teenager, but eventually netted his maiden goal in the competition nearly nine years later for Birmingham City at Spurs in a 3-2 victory for the Blues. He was to only score two more times in the Premier League – versus Middlesbrough and Man City – across 41 top-flight appearances in England.
Reece Oxford (16y, 236d)
West Ham United vs. Arsenal (9 August 2015)
Reece Oxford made his debut for West Ham United aged 16 years, 198 days, making him the club’s youngest ever player and beating Billy Williams’ long-standing record from 1922 (16 years, 221 days).
This appearance came on the opening weekend of the Premier League season away at Arsenal in a surprise 2-0 win for the Hammers at the Emirates Stadium. He won the Man of the Match award on this debut but would only go on to make seven more Premier League appearances for the club despite being considered one of their greatest young talents in the era of the competition. His last game in the Premier League came in January 2018 against Crystal Palace after a near two-year absence from the competition.
Oxford is now in his seventh season as a German Bundesliga player and his 30 top-flight appearances for FC Augsburg last season are the most he’s ever made in a single league campaign.
Jack Robinson (16y, 250d)
Liverpool vs Hull City (9 May 2010)
At 16 years, 250 days old, Jack Robinson remains the youngest player to make an appearance for Liverpool in a league match.
Robinson’s debut in a 0-0 draw with Hull City back in May 2010 came in Rafael Benítez’s final game in charge of the Reds and he is the only 16-year-old to play in league competition for Liverpool.
There were nine years and 55 days between his first-ever Premier League start: Liverpool’s 5-0 win over Birmingham City in April 2011, and his second start in the competition: a 0-0 draw for Sheffield United at Aston Villa in June 2020. This is a Premier League record for the time between an outfield player’s first two starts in the competition.