The Youngest Players to Ever Play for England - Ranked

If there's one thing English football loves, it's putting the weight of the world on a teenage starlet's shoulders.

There's a long list of players who made their England debut as teenagers, and sometimes, those players go on to have long, illustrious careers for the Three Lions. However, there are plenty for whom life never really got better.

Let's take a look at England's ten youngest debutants.

10. Jack Wilshere (18 years 07 months 10 days)

Wilshere in action against Hungary | Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

In 2010, Jack Wilshere had the world at his feet. He was a blossoming star at Arsenal and was as close to a certain future superstar as you're ever likely to find.

As a reward for his hard work, Wilshere was handed his England debut at the age of 18 years and 222 days in a 2-1 friendly victory over Hungary, coming on as a late substitute to replace Steven Gerrard.

We all know what happened next. Injuries quickly took their toll on Wilshere, who managed just 34 appearances for his country before falling out of the picture for good in 2018.

9. Marcus Rashford (18 years 06 months 26 days)

Rashford ahead of his debut | Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Marcus Rashford only made his senior debut for Manchester United in February 2016, and just three months later, he was an England international.

He might not have become the youngest player to ever pull on the shirt, but Rashford broke plenty of records during the early weeks of his England career, including becoming the youngest to ever score on his Three Lions debut when he netted after just three minutes against Australia.

Rashford made it into England's Euro 2016 squad and went on to break the record for youngest England player to feature at a major tournament later that summer.

8. Jadon Sancho (18 years 06 months 17 days)

Sancho replaces Sterling | Michael Regan/Getty Images

After ending the 2017/18 season with three assists and a goal in his last four games for Borussia Dortmund, there were more eyes on Jadon Sancho than ever before.

He began the following season with six assists in seven games, leaving Gareth Southgate no choice but to include him in his England squad in October 2018.

Sancho's debut came as a late substitute in a 0-0 draw with Croatia in the Nations League - ironically the exact sort of game in which Sancho's creativity was needed.

7. Duncan Edwards (18 years 06 months 02 days)

We're heading back to 1955 for this one, when United wonderkid Duncan Edwards became the youngest England player since the Second World War when he made his debut in a 7-2 win over Scotland.

His debut could have come even earlier. Fans called for a 17-year-old Edwards to feature for the Three Lions in 1954, but a handful of poor performances in front of scouts left him waiting a little longer.

Unfortunately, Edwards was restricted to just 18 appearances for England before he lost his life in the aftermath of the Munich air disaster when he was just 21 years old.

6. Micah Richards (18 years 04 months 22 days)

Richards takes on Arjen Robben | AFP/Getty Images

When Manchester City right-back Micah Richards made his debut in November 2006 in a 1-1 draw with the Netherlands, he became the youngest defender in England history, moving ahead of Rio Ferdinand in the history books.

Richards had played just 28 senior games at the time and had won just seven games in his young career, but Steve McClaren still felt as though the teenager was ready.

12 caps later and Richards' international career was over. He failed to win over Fabio Capello, and when Roy Hodgson took control, he was cast aside in favour of none other than Phil Jones.

5. Callum Hudson-Odoi (18 years 04 months 15 days)

Hudson-Odoi was not even a Chelsea regular | Clive Rose/Getty Images

Callum Hudson-Odoi's England debut will always be a peculiar one as he was handed his maiden cap before he had even started a Premier League game.

Amid calls that Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri had an agenda against the young winger, Southgate opted to call him up to his England squad because of his electric form in the Europa League.

He was introduced as a late substitute in a 5-0 win over Czech Republic in the Nations League, becoming the youngest England player to make his debut in a competitive fixture in the process.

4. Michael Owen (18 years 01 month 28 days)

After one breakthrough season at Liverpool, the calls for Michael Owen to feature at the 1998 World Cup were deafening, and Glenn Hoddle had no choice but to listen.

The teenager was given his first appearance in February of that year, starting in a 2-0 friendly loss to Chile.

Owen netted his first goal a few games later against Morocco which made him England's youngest-ever scorer - a title he held for five years until somebody later in this list came along and broke it.

3. Raheem Sterling (17 years 11 months 06 days)

Sterling was yet to turn 18 | Michael Regan/Getty Images

The sad thing about Raheem Sterling's England debut is that nobody really remembers it.

It came in a 4-2 loss to Sweden in November 2012. You know, the game in which Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored an overhead kick from literally a bazillion yards out.

It was a game full of debutants as well. Alongside Sterling, we saw Steven Caulker, Leon Osman, Ryan Shawcross, Carl Jenkinson and Wilfried Zaha all earn their first caps.

2. Wayne Rooney (17 years 03 months 19 days)

Rooney would go on to become England's record goalscorer | Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

England's record goalscorer, Wayne Rooney's legendary England tenure began on February 12, 2003, when he was the tender age of 17 years and 111 days.

He came on as a half-time substitute in a 3-1 loss to Australia, forming a devastatingly disappointing attacking trio with Francis Jeffers and Darius Vassell.

On September of that year, Rooney went on to break Owen's youngest-ever scorer record when he found the back of the net against Macedonia a month before his 18th birthday.

1. Theo Walcott (17 years 02 months 14 days)

Walcott was yet to even play for Arsenal | PAUL ELLIS/Getty Images

After he made his Southampton debut at 16, Theo Walcott was the biggest thing in English football. He sealed an expensive move to Arsenal in January 2006, and before he had even appeared for the club, he was in the England squad.

He was a second-half substitute in a 3-1 win over Hungary, and his performance in that game earned him a trip to the 2006 World Cup a few months later.

It's a decision which was met with real confusion, particularly after Walcott failed to play a single minute at the tournament, but hey ho. History's history.

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Source : 90min