Revisiting the 10 youngest players to ever make their England debut

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When Jude Bellingham came off the bench during England’s 3-0 friendly win over Republic of Ireland, he became the country’s third-youngest debutant in history.

There are high hopes for the Borussia Dortmund youngster, and he will be looking to emulate some of the other players who made their first appearance for the Three Lions at an early age.

We’ve taken a look at the 10 youngest debutants in England history and how they’ve fared since.

Marcus Rashford

Rashford is only 23 years old, but it feels like he’s been around forever. That’s because of how young he was when he became a star for Manchester United and England.

He made his Three Lions debut at just 18 years, six months and 26 days old. He already has 39 caps and 11 goals for his country and will probably have a stint as prime minister when he hangs his boots up.

READ: What Marcus Rashford’s fellow pros have said about his selfless activism

Jadon Sancho

Bellingham’s fellow Borussia Dortmund star made his debut at 18 years, six months and 17 days old and has looked at home ever since.

He’s gone from strength to strength since that first England appearance, adding another 14, while he is now deemed to be worth over £100million due to the level of his performances for Dortmund.

Duncan Edwards

Edwards made his England debut in 1955 at just 18 years, six months and two days old and was one of the Busby Babes who died as a result of the air crash in Munich.

The midfielder was just 21 when he passed, having already made over 150 appearances for Manchester United, while he also earned 18 England caps and scored five goals.

Micah Richards

As Richards put it – much to Roy Keane’s disdain – he burst onto the scene and made his England debut at 18 years, four months and 22 days old, making him England’s youngest-ever defender.

While he did win two Premier Leagues, an FA Cup and a League Cup, Richards’ career didn’t go quite as planned and he ended up having to settle for 13 caps.

Callum Hudson-Odoi

Considering the pressure Hudson-Odoi is under to get into the Chelsea and England side, it’s easy to forget how young he is.

The winger made his Three Lions debut at just 18 years, four months and 15 days old, and at age 20, he still has plenty of time to add to his three caps.

Michael Owen

The baby-faced Owen’s goal against Argentina at the 1998 World Cup sent everyone into shock. What made this even more surprising is that he made his England debut just over four months prior to that moment at 18 years, one month and 28 days old.

His career was impacted by injury but he still had a superb record of 40 goals in 89 England games, while he also won the Ballon d’Or and represented massive clubs like Real Madrid, Liverpool and Man United. It’s not exactly bad.

READ: An ode to a young Michael Owen, once England’s most exciting youngster

Raheem Sterling

Sterling has been put under a microscope for such a large period of his career, but what should always be remembered is that he is an extremely talented footballer.

That was clear from the word go and is why he made his England debut at just 17 years, 11 months and six days old. At 25 he’s got 58 caps and 13 goals, while having become a key part of Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City side, winning two Premier Leagues, an FA Cup and four League Cups.

Jude Bellingham

At just 17 years, four months and 14 days old, Bellingham has made his England debut, topping off a meteoric rise since breaking into Birmingham City’s first-team in 2019-20.

Southgate gave his reasoning behind picking the Borussia Dortmund youngster, as the Mirror quoted him saying: “We could flippantly say, ‘Well, he’s playing for a massive club and he’s playing Champions League football’, but there’s actually a bit more to it than that.

“The bigger picture here is a great opportunity to bring another young player with us that is going to benefit England for the long-term.”

Wayne Rooney

Rooney was the ultimate teen sensation at both Everton and Manchester United, so it’s no surprise that he’s so far down this list.

He was just 17 years, three months and 19 days old when he lined up alongside Francis Jeffers in a 3-1 loss against Australia – it’s actually Jeffers who scored in that game.

Despite having plenty of frustration in an England shirt, Rooney can look back on his 120 caps and 53 goals with pride, while his trophy haul at United includes five Premier Leagues and a Champions League.

READ: Where are they now? The England team on Wayne Rooney’s debut

Theo Walcott

“Young Theo” as he still gets called made his England debut at 17 years, two months and 14 days old.

He may have 47 England caps, while he has played for Arsenal and Everton, but everyone has been waiting for him to reach his full potential ever since that debut. Maybe there’s still time.


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