There is nothing quite like the emergence of a preposterously young wonderkid to make you feel depressingly old – and Barcelona prodigy Lamine Yamal is the latest rising star that will have you questioning where all those years went.
Yamal became Barcelona’s youngest-ever debutant at the age of just 15 back in April. The rising star only turned 16 in July but he shone in pre-season and looks set to play a prominent role in the first team this season.
“I see him ready, he’s so mature for his age,” Xavi Hernandez said after handing Yamal his first start in a 2-0 victory over Cadiz.
“He can make a difference for us. The only reason he didn’t score is Ledesma had his best game of the season. We need to take care of him, but he is a talent and being only 16 years old is not a problem.”
We’ve picked out seven events that are older than the precociously talented forward. They still feel like yesterday.
Pep Guardiola returns to Barcelona
Pep Guardiola’s world-conquering stint in charge of Barcelona has shaped how football is played today.
You can go watch a side in the far reaches of the English football pyramid and chances are you’ll see them trying to play it out from the back – the prodigal son’s return to the Camp Nou, bringing with him a souped-up brand of Johan Cruyff’s positional play was a genuine game-changer.
When Barca’s latest wonderkid was born, Jose Mourinho and Rafael Benitez were still at the vanguard of football tactics – and games were often stodgy, attritional battles.
The game that Yamal steps into right now might look entirely different had Mourinho been given the job over Guardiola 15 years ago.
We’re cheating a bit here, because Yamal was a one-year-old when Guardiola got the main job. But he wasn’t yet born when the era-defining tactician returned to Catalonia to take charge of the B team in the summer of 2007.
Pippo Inzaghi’s masterclass vs Liverpool
Barcelona failed to retain their La Liga and Champions League crowns in a desperately disappointing 2006-07 campaign, one in which Ronaldinho’s predilection for the city’s nightlife reportedly began to take its toll on the Brazilian’s performances on the pitch.
Frank Rijkaard’s side were knocked out of Europe by Liverpool in the Round of 16, and Benitez’s Reds went on to reach the final – where they booked a rematch of their unforgettable 2005 clash with AC Milan.
There were to be no repeat heroics from Steven Gerrard and co. that night in Athens as Andrea Pirlo and Kaka ran rings around the Reds and an ageing Inzaghi produced a man-of-the-match display up top, scoring both goals in a 2-1 win.
Lionel Messi plays in his first World Cup
Barcelona’s all-time greatest player had already well established himself as a star in the making by the time Yamal was born in 2007. Messi had already won a Champions League, been in Barcelona’s first team for two years, scoring 25 goals – and even made his first Ballon d’Or podium in 2007.
And in the summer of 2006, he’d already featured – and scored in – his first of five World Cups, a long journey to glory in Qatar that started with heartbreak in Germany. Argentina looked like genuine contenders that summer but were eliminated by the hosts on penalties at the quarter-finals stage.
Jose Pekerman’s decision not to turn to Messi off the bench that afternoon has gone down in footballing infamy.
Rihanna releases ‘Umbrella’
Something of a prodigy herself, Rihanna was just 17 when her debut single Pon de Replay became an instant hit. But it was Umbrella that catapulted her to become the Superbowl-playing megastar she remains a decade and a half later.
Absolutely inescapable for a whole summer, it stayed top of the UK charts for 10 consecutive weeks, making it the most successful single of the decade.
Yamal was born during Rihanna’s reign and you’d be surprised if some tinny radio in the delivery room wasn’t playing Umbrella. Ella-ella, ayy, ayy, ayy.
First iPhone released
Members of Gen Z would struggle to envisage a world in which smartphones aren’t practically another limb, so entwined they are today with how we live our lives and interact with the world around us.
Steve Jobs unveiled Apple’s first iPhone at a Macworld convention in January 2007. Six months later the revolutionary device hit the shelves and things have never been the same since.
The Thames Whale
Martin Scorsese finally wins an Oscar
Official Planet Football editorial policy is that The Departed was brilliant. But let’s be honest – Marty picking up his first Best Director Oscar for the Boston crime thriller and not Taxi Driver, Raging Bull or Goodfellas was like Ryan Giggs winning his first PFA Player of the Year award in 2009.