In a historic moment, Barcelona’s young talent, Yamal Lamine, has shattered the Champions League record previously held by Nigerian footballer Celestine Babayaro. Coach Xavi Hernandez made the bold decision to start Lamine in a Champions League group stage match against Portuguese club Porto, marking Lamine’s debut in the competition at the incredibly young age of 16 years and 83 days.
Before this remarkable achievement, Celestine Babayaro held the distinction of being the youngest player in the world to start a Champions League game. Babayaro set this record while playing for Belgian side Anderlecht in the 1994-1995 season, when he was 16 years and 86 days old. He later moved to Chelsea in 1997, where he achieved even greater fame, contributing to the club’s victories in the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup and FA Cup.
However, Lamine’s debut Champions League start did not go without its challenges. During the match against Porto, he had to leave the pitch for a restroom break in the last 20 minutes of the game and did not return until the game concluded. Barcelona played with a man down for nearly ten minutes before Xavi replaced the teenager with former Chelsea wingback Marcos Alonso in the 80th minute.
Following the match, which ended in a 1-0 victory for Barcelona, Coach Xavi disclosed that Lamine had been feeling unwell before the game. He stated, “Lamine Yamal was unwell. He had an illness, he had been telling me for a while.” Xavi had taken advantage of a break in the game to allow Lamine to use the restroom, but it became evident that he couldn’t return to the pitch.
It’s worth noting that Youssoufa Moukoko of Borussia Dortmund still holds the title of the youngest player to ever appear in a Champions League match. He set this record when he came off the bench in Borussia Dortmund’s 1-2 victory over Russian Zenit St. Petersburg on December 8, 2020, at the age of 16 years and 18 days old. However, Yamal Lamine now holds the distinction of being the youngest player to start a Champions League game.