Euro 2024: Spain’s Lamine Yamal becomes youngest-ever player

BERLIN — Barcelona teenager Lamine Yamal became the youngest player to ever feature at the European Championship on Saturday in Spain‘s Group B win against Croatia in Berlin.

At 16 years and 338 days old, Yamal takes the record from Poland midfielder Kacper Kozłowski, who was 17 years and 246 days old when he came off at the bench at Euro 2020 (which was played in 2021 owing to the COVID-19 pandemic) against Spain.

That was the second time in the tournament the record had fallen, with England‘s Jude Bellingham having previously bettered the mark set by Netherlands left-back Jetro Willems at Euro 2012.

“He just keeps on breaking records,” Spain coach Luis de la Fuente said of Yamal in his post-game news conference. “He’s growing, maturing and getting better every day.

“He’s on the path to be a great player, but he’s very young and we have to be patient with him.”

Yamal set up Spain’s third goal in the 3-0 win over Croatia, providing an excellent cross for Dani Carvajal as the three-time champions got their tournament off to the best possible start.

“I’m very happy for the win, for the debut and now we change our focus to the next game,” Yamal said afterward. “In the end, the team wants to play inside and I’m here to help the team, to defend, whatever it takes.

“We are a very efficient team because the work we’ve put in over the last few months has shown today.”

While Yamal became the youngest ever player in Euros history, Carvajal’s goal made him Spain’s oldest ever goal scorer in the tournament at 32-years-old.

Captain Álvaro Morata and Fabián Ruiz also scored as Spain cruised in the first half, but were frustrated in a largely uneventful second period.

It is the latest in a string of age-related records broken by Yamal and more could follow at Euro 2024 in Germany.

A goal at any stage of the finals would see him surpass Johan Vonlanthen as the competition’s youngest ever scorer.

Switzerland‘s Vonlanthen was 18 years and 141 days old when he netted at Euro 2004, just four days after England’s Wayne Rooney had briefly become the youngest scorer ever in the European Championship.

Meanwhile, Bellingham is the youngest player to have ever played a knockout game at 18 years and four days, slightly younger than Spain’s Pedri and Germany‘s Jamal Musiala were at the same tournament, Euro 2020.

Portugal‘s Renato Sanches is the youngest player to have played in the final at 18 years and 328 days old — Yamal will turn 17 the day before the final in Berlin.

Barça winger Yamal is already the youngest player to start and score in LaLiga, while he also became the youngest player to appear in a Champions League knockout game earlier this year against Napoli.

Despite his age, he is a regular for club and country. He made 50 appearances for Barça in all competitions in the 2023-2024 season, scoring seven goals and setting up 10 more.

He made his senior debut for Spain last September, becoming the youngest player to play and score for La Roja in a win against Georgia, and earned his eighth cap for his country in Saturday’s game against Croatia.

Information from Reuters contributed to this report.