7 of the youngest beginners in the Premier League – and how their careers have gone


Jude Bellingham is arguably the most wanted teenager in world football right now, with Manchester United and Chelsea among a multitude of clubs chasing his signature.

At just 16, Bellingham is a special talent, but he was not the first youngster to be torn from the academy and put on the fast track to stardom.

If Bellingham is to trade Birmingham City for one of the Premier League’s big hitters, he will join a select group of teenagers to salute.

A lot of promise and potential has passed through the doors of some of the most prestigious clubs in English football, but not all of the emerging talent has had resounding success.

Here we take a look at seven players who have the honor of being their club’s youngest debutant in the Premier League.

Manchester United: Angel Gomes – 16 years and 263 days

Angel Gomes has yet to secure a regular place in the starting lineup for Manchester United

With all the talk around Bellingham and the Red Devils, it seems fair to launch the list with the youngest top player from United.

Angel Gomes’ defining moment came as he left the bench to replace Wayne Rooney in the closing minutes of a 2-0 home victory over Crystal Palace in 2017.

And in doing so, the 16-year-old also became the first player born in the 2000s to appear in the Premier League.

The truth is, Gomes has yet to make his mark at Old Trafford, after just five first-team appearances for the Reds.

But he’s still only 19, so the highly rated midfielder has plenty of time to realize his potential.

Chelsea: Jody Morris – 17 years and 43 days

Jody Morris celebrates a goal in 2000

These days, Morris assists Blues boss Frank Lampard in overseeing the Chelsea youth revolution, but he was once the prodigal son of Stamford Bridge.

Shortly after his 17th birthday, the facelifted Morris made his Premier League debut in a home game against Middlesbrough in 1996.

The following season, he won the club’s young player of the year award, but the early encouragement quickly disappeared and Morris was overshadowed by foreign superstars Didier Deschamps and Gus Poyet.

After a seven-year stint at Chelsea, the midfielder spent a year in Leeds, then flirted with the lower leagues before returning to Bridge as coach, eventually taking on his current role with the first team.

Arsenal: Jack Wilshere – 16 years and 256 days

Young Jack Wilshere celebrates goal for Gunners

Replacing Robin Van Persie as a substitute in the 84th minute at Blackburn, Wilshere had the world at his feet, but an injury-ravaged career has limited him.

“It could have been phenomenal. It’s very sad with Jack, ”said Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta, commenting on Wilshere’s playoff streak.

At the start of his career, Wilshere seemed ready to set the world on fire, he was named PFA Young Player of the Year and selected to the PFA Team of the Year in 2011.

Even the great Barcelona Xavi has told Wilshere that this is the “future” of English football. However, despite this promise, the midfielder failed to start and he left the Gunners for West Ham in 2018.

Liverpool: Jack Robinson – 16 years and 250 days

Jack Robinson never succeeded in realizing his potential in Liverpool

A full back bursting onto the scene at Anfield, now it sounds familiar. But before the sight of a marauding Trent Alexander Arnold became the norm, there was Jack Robinson.

At just 16, Robinson was put in the spotlight to replace the injured Fabio Aurelio in a 1-1 draw at Arsenal in 2011.

The left-back received rave reviews that day and a week later he was named to the Reds’ starting lineup against Birmingham City.

But it turned out to be a flash in the pan for Robinson, who would only make three first-team appearances in four years for the Reds before moving to QPR in 2014.

Man City: Micah Richards – 17 years and 119 days

Micah richards
Micah Richards was once one of the brightest young advocates in the country

One of the pre-Etihad eras, the defender rose through the youth ranks of City and after shining at the academy, he made his debut in a 1-0 defeat at Arsenal in 2005.

Before Sheikh Mansour’s heyday, Richards fought with Danny Mills and Nedum Onuoha for the right rear seat in City.

A contest he won, scoring 179 appearances for the club and playing a vital role in City’s 2011-12 Premier League title triumph.

However, an injury limited him the following year and Pablo Zabaleta stole his place on the team. Richards never recovered and was released by the club in 2015.

Tottenham: Stephen Carr 17 years and 27 days

Stephen Carr spent 11 years at Tottenham

That may be hard to believe, given his hard-nosed exterior, but Carr was once a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed teenager, waiting for his chance to impress at Tottenham.

This chance came at just 17 when he made his debut with the Spurs at Ipswich in 1993, but it was not until the following season that he cemented his place as a first team.

In his 11 years with the club, Carr not only became a big big Tottenham, but also established himself as a Premier League legend.

The defender racked up 226 appearances for the Lilywhites before ending his career with impressive spells in Newcastle and Birmingham. He also played 44 times for the Republic of Ireland.

Leicester City Emile Heskey – 17 years and 55 days

Emile Heskey of Leicester City
Emile Heskey began his career with the Foxes

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Although Heskey was only 17 and a first-year intern, Foxes boss Mark McGhee had enough faith to attribute his debut against QPR in 1995.

Leicester were relegated that same season, but Martin O’Neill guided them to an immediate return to the top flight, and Heskey scored 10 goals in his first full campaign in the Premier League.

That made him the club’s top scorer and he quickly formed a great partnership with Tony Cottee, who helped propel the Foxes to the glory of the League Cup in 2000.

It would be Heskey’s time in a Leicester jersey as Gerard Houllier’s Liverpool arrived and the striker passed to Anfield.

Heskey continued to have an impressive career for the club and the country. He has scored over 100 high-flying goals and won 62 caps in England, scoring seven times.


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