While most kids his age might be striving to get good exam results, Youssoufa Moukoko has battled to make history.
One day after his 16th birthday Moukoko came on as a substitute for Borussia Dortmund in Saturday’s clash with Hertha Berlin, becoming the youngest player to play in a professional match in Germany.
The Cameroon-born German replaced 20-year-old Erling Haaland with just over five minutes remaining in Dortmund’s 5-2 victory.
Moukoko broke former Dortmund player Nuri Sahin’s previous record having made his debut aged 16 years, 11 months and one day for Dortmund against Wolfsburg in August 2006. New Bundesliga rules allow players to play from the day they turn 16.
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Moukoko, who has regularly played in older age groups, has impressed his teammates since joining first team training, with Haaland – who scored four goals against Hertha Berlin – calling him “the biggest talent in the world” after Saturday’s game.
“I would love to play alongside him,” said Haaland – who recently won the 2020 Golden Boy award for the best under-21 player playing in a European country’s top division.
“I think he’s the biggest talent in the world right now. He’s 16 years and one day old, that’s amazing. He has a big career ahead of him. We’re lucky to have him.”
Moukoko could also become the Champions League’s youngest player on November 24 if he faces Club Bruges. That record is currently held by Céléstine Babayaro, who was aged 16 years and 87 days when he played for Anderlecht in a group stage match during the 1994/1995 season.
He has been prolific for the youth teams at Dortmund, scoring 141 goals in 88 youth games, including 13 in just four appearances for the club’s U19 side this season.
Having only previously seen his now teammates on TV – or playing as them on FIFA video games in Dortmund’s youth facilities – lining up alongside the likes of Marco Reus, Jadon Sancho and Erling Braut Haaland came as something of a shock.
“The first time I arrived I made a video because I’ll never experience another day like that,” Moukoko told Borussia Dortmund TV. “I could say: ‘Now I’m with the first team’ and it was a whole new feeling.
“It was amazing. I went home and I still couldn’t get my head around it. I was so happy in training, but afterwards I understood that it was what I’d worked for. I’m here now and I need to do my best.”
Dortmund manager Lucien Favre praised Moukoko for his hard work in the short time he had with the first team.
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“He’s trained with us now for 14 days. Seven or eight players were away on international duty. It was 5-2 and it was good for him to play his first Bundesliga game but of course he has to keep working,” Favre told ESPN after the game.
“He’s very, very young. We have a lot of attacking players, a lot who haven’t played today.”