• Oliver Barefoot

RINGS A BELL: WHO'S FOOTSTEPS IS BELLINGHAM FOLLOWING? ENGLAND'S TOP 5 YOUNGEST DEBUTANTS


With the recent call-up of 17-year-old Borussia Dortmund midfielder Jude Bellingham to Gareth Southgate's England squad, we take a look at the Three Lion's youngest ever stars to represent their country.


(This list is of players in the post-war era)


5) Callum Hudson-Odoi


Debut: March 22, 2019 vs the Czech Republic

Age: 18 Years, 136 Days

Caps: 3


Starting at number five, Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odoi first broke onto the international stage in 2019, following a successful start to the 2018-2019 season.


Before his call-up, he had scored five goals in 19 games in all competitions, for the then Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri - but was still yet to start a Premier League game.


Hudson-Odoi, then 18, called the call-up an 'amazing experience' and said he didn't believe it at first.


In a whirlwind few days, the Chelsea winger had traveled to Bristol to meet up with the under-21 squad, before rerouting to St George's Park to join the first-team.


Since then, the England youngster has established himself as one of the most promising talents in Europe, drawing interest from German giants Bayern Munich.


His debut against the Czech Republic in a UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying game, made him the youngest-ever player to make his debut in a competitive match for England in the post-war era, at just 18 years-old and 136 days.


Three days later, he became the second-youngest player ever, to start a competitive game for the Three Lions - second only to Wayne Rooney.


He eventually made his England U-21 debut in October that year, in a 2-2 draw against Slovenia U-21s.


4) Michael Owen


Debut: 11 February 1998 vs Chile

Age: 18 Years, 59 Days

Caps: 89


In fourth place, is a player that has been there and done it, playing for numerous topsides, in the form of Liverpool, Manchester United and Real Madrid, whilst winning a catalogue of awards along the way, including the 2001 Ballon d'Or.


It is of course Michael Owen.


In an England career that lasted a decade, Michael Owen cemented himself in the history books of the senior national team, with 40 goals in 89 games.


This tally makes him fifth in the list of all-time England goalscorers and eleventh in most capped.


At the time of his debut, Owen became Englands youngest player and goalscorer and went on to become the only English player to have ever scored in four consecutive major tournaments.


He is also one of only eleven England players to have appeared in three World Cups.


This English legend retired from international football in 2008 and completely left the sport in 2013, finishing his career at Stoke City.


3) Raheem Sterling


Debut: 14 November 2012 vs Sweden

Age: 17 Years, 342 Days

Caps: 58


In third place is a player very much at the spine of Gareth Southgate's current England squad, in the shape of Man City winger, Raheem Sterling.


Sterling's debut was a debut to forget, after a humiliating 4-2 defeat by Sweden, for Roy Hodgson's side.


Four goals by Sweden's leading man Zlatan Ibrahimovic, one being his famous overhead kick, overshadowed Sterling and five other England debutants.


Sterling had to wait until 2014 for his second cap, where he was named 'man of the match' in a 1-0 friendly win over Denmark at Wembley.


Later that year, he was included in England's 23-man squad for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. It wasn't until 2015 however, that he scored his first senior goal in a 4-0 victory against Lithuania.


Sterling's England career has had it's up and downs from the start, no more so than when he went 27 games without a goal, before scoring twice in a UEFA Nations League group game against Spain on 15 October 2018.


Since then, he has also been dropped from the squad after a fall out with international teammate and club rival Joe Gomez, back in November 2019.


2) Wayne Rooney


Debut: 12 February 2003 vs Australia

Age: 17 Years, 111 Days

Caps: 120


This is a man that needs no introduction to football fans around the world. Wayne Rooney.


Rooney is the record goalscorer for both the England national team and Manchester United, scoring a combined 236 goals for both sides.


With 53 of those goals coming in 120 caps in an England shirt, Rooney isn't just the all-time top scorer for England, but also the second most capped player for the Three Lions.


His England legacy began during an international friendly against Australia in 2003 at the Boleyn Ground, where he came on as part of a completely changed second half squad.


206 days later, Rooney scored the first of 53 goals for England, as he equalised in a 2-1 away win against Macedonia, in a UEFA Euro 2004 qualifying match.


Following his successful international career, the Man United legend retired from international duty in August 2017, but has since made a one-off appearance for England in November 2018 against the USA at Wembley.


His short-lived return from retirement was in order to raise awareness for his new charity, 'The Wayne Rooney Foundation'.


1) Theo Walcott


Debut: 30 May 2006 vs Hungary

Age: 17 Years, 75 Days

Caps: 47


In first place, as the youngest player ever to play for England, is Arsenal legend, Theo Walcott.


Walcott's international career took flight in the most bizarre way, as the then England manager Sven-Göran Eriksson, included the 17-year-old in his 2006 FIFA World Cup Squad.


The call-up shocked the nation, as the player had never played an international game in his life, nor had he made his Arsenal debut.


22 days after his shock call-up, Theo Walcott made his international debut, against Hungary in a friendly win at Old Trafford.


Despite being apart of the England squad, Walcott never played a game at the 2006 World Cup, with Eriksson justifying his decision to include the youngster, claiming it would serve him well for future tournaments.


However, after the World Cup, Sven-Göran Eriksson stepped down as England manager and the appointment of Steve McClaren, saw Walcott's international career temporarily paused.


New boss McClaren dropped the 17-year-old to the U-21 side, claiming he was "toughening up" on his squad selections.


It wasn't until September 2008 that Walcott would play for the first team again, more than two years after his debut.


Walcott soon opened his scoring tally for England, netting a hat-trick against Croatia, making him the first player to score a hat-trick in a competitive match for the Three Lion's, since Michael Owen in 2001.