Thursday, August 17, 2017

Youngest teams to ever play in a European final

Ashley Randall in Editorial, UEFA Europa League 29 May 2017

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Ajax's young stars disappointed to lose the Europa League final

Ajax’s young stars disappointed to lose the Europa League final

Ajax fielded the youngest ever team in a European final when they played Manchester United in the Europa League on Wednesday night.

The side was made up of exciting players with bags of potential and had an average age of just 22 years and 282 days.

17-year-old defender Matthijs de Ligt was Ajax’s youngest talent to take to the field, followed by Kasper Dolberg, 19, and Jairo Riedewald, 20.

Even though they lost the game 2-0 against the Red Devils, the Eredivisie club were able to hold their heads high and their success was an indication of how well their academy has been revitalised in recent times.

Ajax haven’t won a European title since 1995, and sadly it looks like it could be a while until they manage to do so, with a whole range of clubs reportedly set to swoop for their promising players in the summer.

Nonetheless, manager Peter Bosz must be accredited with giving their youth a chance, and it could be a very long time before we see a team anywhere near as young as the side fielded on Wednesday night.

We take a look at the three youngest ever sides to ever play in a European final.

CSKA Moscow – 2005 – UEFA CUP – 23 years and 19 days

The second youngest side to play in a final was CSKA Moscow in the 2005 UEFA cup against Sporting Lisbon. The Russian club fielded a team that was just 23 years and 19 days old when they won 3-1 at the Jose Alvalade despite going into the break a goal down. It was the first UEFA final won by a team from the Russian Premier League, and featured 20-year-old striker Vagner Love and 21-year-old midfielder Yuri Zhirkov, who masterminded their famous success.

Crvena Zvezda – 1979 – UEFA CUP – 23 years and 139 days

Now known as Red Star Belgrade, Crvena Zvezda fielded a side against Borussia Monchengladbach in the 1979 UEFA cup final with an average age of just 23 years and 139 days. They drew the match 1-1 with 23-year-old Milos Sestic scoring to set up a replay two weeks later. The side that played in this game were equally as young with an average age only 11 days older than the first team they put out. However, they went on to lose 1-0 to the German side.

West Ham United – 1965 – Cup Winners Cup – 24 years and 40 days

24-year-old Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst, 24, and Martin Peters, 22, featured for a Hammers side that beat 1860 Munich 2-0 in the Cup Winners’ Cup. The final was held at Wembley and was only a year before England’s World Cup success. West Ham’s average age was just 24 years and 40 days for the match and 23-year-old Alan Sealey scored both goals in the historic occasion. Striker John Scissons, 20, was the youngest player to turn out for the Hammers in the match.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ashley Randall


Ash is a freelance football writer who lives, breathes and dreams the beautiful game. A lifelong Wolverhampton Wanderers season ticket holder, if he isn't at Molineux then he will be watching any game on television that he can set his eyes on. Producing work for various football websites and publications, Ash has also written for regional newspapers and global magazines.

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