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What happened to the Premier League’s youngest debutants, Aaron Lennon, Jose Baxter and more

Arsenal midfielder Ethan Nwaneri has youth on his side but does it guarantee a glittering career will follow?

Arsenal midfielder Ethan Nwaneri become the youngest player to make an appearance in the Premier League, when making his league debut against Brentford.

He came on as a substitute during his side's 3-0 win over the Bees aged 15 years and 181 days.

Nwaneri will dream of following other teenagers into the England set up but does an early start necessarily mean international success will come quickly, if at all?

Planet Sport takes a look at the youngest debutants in the competition's history and where their careers have taken them.

Harvey Elliott - Fulham (16 years 30 days)

Before Nwaneri, the former Fulham youngster Elliott was in the the number one spot, making his Premier League debut at 16 years and 30 days old in 2019. He also holds the record for the youngest player to play in the EFL Cup, aged 15 years and 174 days when his Fulham team faced Millwall. Incredibly, as he was only 15, he was at school on the day of the game and was back studying the next day!

Such was the hype around Elliott, that soon after his Premier League debut, Europe's top teams, including Paris Saint-GermainReal Madrid and Liverpool were interested in signing him. He chose to stay in England and signed for Liverpool, although he is spending the 2020/21 season on loan at Championship club Blackburn Rovers.

Elliot was still 16 when Liverpool signed him. The tribunal decided on a fee of up to £4.3million, depending on him meeting certain milestones, including an initial fee of £1.2million - a record fee for someone of that age.

Elliot shone at Blackburn on loan in the 2020/21 season, and then fought his way in Liverpool first team contention. It is clear to see why the Surrey-born right-winger is tipped to go to the top and to break plenty more records along the way.

Matthew Briggs - Fulham (16 years 68 days)

Matthew Briggs is another Fulham teenager who was given a chance on the big stage at the tender age of 16. Briggs made his debut at the end of the 2006/07 season, coming on as a substitute to play at left-back against Middlesbrough. Briggs' impressive record of being the youngest player to play in the Premier League stood for 12 years.

However, the Guyana international only went on to play for Fulham a total of 12 times and in 2014 signed a one-year contract with Championship club Millwall.

After various other short stints with clubs in the lower leagues of England and in Denmark with Vejle Boldklub, he is now at Gosport Borough.

Needless to say, not every players' career path takes a conventional route!

Izzy Brown - West Brom (16 years 117 days)

A part of the West Brom youth academy, Izzy Brown made his only appearance for the club in 2013 as a substitute in a loss against Wigan Athletic. Premier League giants Chelsea had been scouting the attacking midfielder when he played in youth games and in the summer, made a move for Brown.

Chelsea paid West Brom compensation for Brown, although the fee was deemed far too low for a player of his potential. In May 2018, Brown made his one and only appearance to this date for Chelsea, against his former club. Although he had only played 11 minutes, Jose Mourinho said the youngster would receive a Premier League winners medal for his contribution to the team.

Brown made only appearance for Chelsea, and his career has consisted of season-long loans, in the Eredivisie with Vitesse, one loan spell with Brighton in the Premier League and five loans in the Championship.

After a host of loan spells away from Stamford Bridge, he joined Preston in 2021 but was released this year following an injury-hit campaign and is currently without a club.

Aaron Lennon - Leeds (16 years 129 days)

Aaron Lennon has enjoyed a successful Premier League career, making 388 appearances in the competition, but he also held the youngest player record for a long period. He made his first appearance for Leeds United aged 16, against Tottenham Hotspur.

Lennon went on to play 38 league matches for his hometown club before Tottenham signed him for a bargain £1million. The fleet-footed winger made a name for himself in the capital, going on to make 364 appearances across all competitions for Spurs. Lennon won the only trophy of his career in 2008 as Tottenham lifted the Football League Cup, beating Chelsea 2-1 in the final at Wembley.
He spent ten years at Tottenham and earned all his 21 England caps while at the club. He was selected in the national team squad for the 2006 and 2010 FIFA World Cup.

After leaving Tottenham, Lennon spent time at fellow established Premier League clubs Everton and Burnley, but only showed rare glimpses of what he made his name for at Spurs.

In 2020, he moved to his first team outside of England, signing for Turkish SuperLig club Kayserispor on a free contract, then rejoined Burnley a year later.

The 35-year-old is currently a free agent.

Jose Baxter - Everton (16 years 191 days)

Everton-born Jose Baxter made his Premier League debut on the opening day of the 2008/09 season in a home game against Blackburn Rovers. At 16 years and 191 days, it also made him Everton's youngest ever player, with the previous record held by James Vaughan.

Baxter's Everton career never really got started, and he failed to live up to comparisons with local hero Wayne Rooney, before getting released in 2012.

The forward spent time at Oldham and Sheffield United, who paid £500,000 for him. However, his time in South Yorkshire ended in controversy. He received multiple suspensions for drug-related incidents and was eventually released by Sheffield United in May 2016.
His first club Everton then offered him a lifeline when his ban ended. They handed him a one-year contract in 2017 to rebuild his career in their reserve team. He returned to Oldham before playing the first half of the 2018/19 season at Plymouth Argyle.

Baxter played in the American second tier with Memphis 901, who he joined in early 2020, before retiring aged 29 in 2021.

Rushian Hepburn-Murphy - Aston Villa (16 years 198 days)

Rushian Hepburn-Murphy is a product of the Aston Villa youth academy and made his debut for the club in 2015, aged just 16. In doing so, he became the second youngest player in the club's history and the youngest to play for Villa in the Premier League.
Big things were expected from the Birmingham-born winger, but he ultimately failed to live up to the hype. He made 13 appearances in five years with Villa and spent time on loan at Cambridge United, Tranmere Rovers and finally Derby County, where he failed to make an appearance.
After these disappointing loan periods away from his parent club, Villa decided against renewing his contact in 2020.

Hepburn-Murphy's next move was to Cypriot team Pafos FC, which included Crystal Palace midfielder Jason Puncheon. The British connection doesn't end there, though, as they were managed by John Toshack's son, Cameron.

He was released at the end of the 2021/22 season and joined Swindon on a free.

Gary McSheffrey - Coventry City (16 years 198 days)

Gary McSheffrey was born in 1982 and made his Premier League for Coventry City in 1999 in a derby against Aston Villa. This made him the youngest player to ever play in the league, a record he held for nine years.
He spent eight years as a professional at Coventry, with loan spells with Luton Town and Swedish side IK Brage. Fifty-three goals later, the winger switched to Steve Bruce's Birmingham City in 2006, going on to make 83 league appearances for the Blues.
The England Under-20 international spent the majority of his playing career in England's top three leagues, gaining promotion on no less than six occasions. In 2010, he returned to his first club Coventry, before going on to appear for Chesterfield, Scunthorpe and Doncaster Rovers.
The Coventry City legend has also turned out for non-league clubs Eastleigh and Frickley Athletic and is currently registered as a player for North Counties East League club Rossington Main.

Known for his deadly left foot, McSheffrey scored more than 100 goals in a successful professional career and is now the manager of Doncaster Rovers.

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