The Top Ten Youngest Premier League Players

young player’You’ll never win anything with kids’ was the once famous refrain of Alan Hansen, speaking about Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United side just before they went on to win absolutely everything. It’s generally true, though, that clubs do better when they’ve got more experienced players on the pitch. Does that mean that kids are useless? Should younger players be forgotten about until they’ve been ‘blooded in’?

Different players develop at different rates, of course, and even those that make the breakthrough don’t necessarily go on to be famous, world-class performers. But who are the ten youngest lads to have appeared in the Premier League over the years? We’re about to find out…

James Vaughan

Everton have long been known for bringing decent young players through, with a certain lad called Wayne Rooney getting on the pitch when he was just 16 years and 297 days old, though that isn’t enough to earn him a place on this list - even though the Blues are responsible for two of the lads who are.

James Vaughan made his Everton debut at the age of 16 years and 270 days in April of 2005. We’d love to tell you it was a boring debut that was soon forgotten, but the opposite is true. The Toffees won 4-0 against Crystal Palace and Vaughan capped a tremendous performance with a goal three minutes from time. Many Evertonians felt he’d go on to be something special, but he made just sixty appearances for the club before injuries took their toll on him.

Mark Platts

You might not recognise the name of Mark Platts, but you’ll almost certainly have heard of the fella he replaced when he made his debut for Sheffield Wednesday in February 1996. The Owls were playing Wimbledon when this much heralded youngster came on to replace Chris Waddle, the England international.

Platts had caused tongues to wag with his performances at schoolboy level, but the winger couldn’t make the step up to the big time and played just one more game for Wednesday. He moved to Torquay United then Worksop, retiring from the game completely in 2001. He was 16 years and 264 days old when his career started and just over 21 when it finished.

Jack Wilshere

Arguably the most famous name on the list, Jack Wilshere has the potential to be some player if only he wasn’t made almost entirely out of polystyrene. It was September 2008 when he got onto the pitch for the first time for Arsenal, aged 16 years and 255 days old. It came in a game against Blackburn Rovers, with the youngster replacing a certain Robin Van Persie in the 4-0 win.

Arsene Wenger’s always been known for trusting the kids, so it’s no surprise that Wilshere was selected again ten days later for a League Cup match, scoring a goal against Sheffield United in the process. The injury ravaged player has made several appearances for England, too.

Jack Robinson

Rafa Benitez was never shy of giving young players a chance during his time at Anfield, famously reshuffling the way the Academy was structured at the famous old club in order to give the kids the best possible chance of developing. So it was that Jack Robinson got onto the hallowed turf in May of 2010 in a 0-0 draw with Hull City.

Rafa left Liverpool that summer and Robinson wasn’t far behind him. Despite getting his debut at the age of 16 years and 250 days he never quite made the breakthrough into the first team, moving to Blackpool & Wolverhampton on loan before being bought by QPR.

Gary McSheffrey

Given that managers don’t like to take chances with youngsters, it’s no surprise that Gary McSheffrey made his Coventry debut in a game where they beat Aston Villa 4-1. It came in February 1999 and the young winger was 16 years and 198 days old. He played just three more senior games that year and was eventually sold to Birmingham City for £4 million in 2006.

Jose Baxter

Another Everton youngster, Jose Baxter came on for the Blues in a 3-2 loss to Blackburn on the opening day of the 2008-2009 season. He was 16 years and 191 days old at the time. He played another thirteen games for the Toffees but left to join Oldham Athletic. Everton actually offered him a new contract, but he saw playing games as more important than earning money.

Rushian Hepburn-Murphy

Was he named after Ian Rush? If not he really should have been. It was Tim Sherwood that gave him his debut for Aston Villa, however, sending the young forward on with seven minutes to go during the Villans 4-0 win against Sunderland at The Stadium Of Light in 2015. Rushian was 16 years and 176 days old that day and he had earned his place on the pitch by scoring 18 goals in 21 games for the Villa youth team.

Aaron Lennon

Aaron Lennon made his name playing for Tottenham Hotspur, but he actually made his debut playing against Spurs for Leeds United in 2003. Aged 16 years and 128 days when he came on for Leeds at White Hart Lane. He moved there to play for Spurs in 2005 and has since made the move to Everton.

Izzy Brown

Another case of ‘who?’ being shouted from the gallery, Izzy Brown was 16 years and 117 days old when he appeared for West Bromwich Albion in the Baggies’ 3-2 home loss against Wigan Athletic in 2013. He only played four minutes in that game but it must have been enough to interest Chelsea, with the Blues adding Brown to their collection of talented young kids who never see the light of day once they cross the boundary of Stamford Bridge.

Matthew Briggs

Number two on the list, then, is Matthew Briggs. The fullback was 16 years and 65 days old when he made his debut for Fulham at Middlesborough back in May 2007. They lost 3-1, with that perhaps being a portent to the way his career would go. He’s played for England at numerous youth levels but changed his allegiance to Guyana, where his mother’s family is from, in order to get a senior international game.

Harvey Elliot

Harvey Elliot takes the number one spot on the list (which is actually eleven players long not ten), who at 16 years and 30 days old had barely finished celebrating his bithday when he played for Fulham away against Wolves, coming on in the 88th minute. This was in 2019, and he played a further 16 minutes for Fulham (who were relegated) before Liverpool came in for him, giving him his first Premier League start after a number of substitutions in a 2021 game against Burnley, which Liverpool won 2-0.