A month shy of his 20th birthday, Reece James became Chelsea’s youngest ever goalscorer in the Champions League on Tuesday.
The right back, who came on at half-time in what feels like a momentous substitution for Marcos Alonso, scored Chelsea’s equalizing goal, which completed the tremendous second-half fightback from 4-1. It was James’s first Champions League goal, but just one of the many extraordinary scenes on an extraordinary night.
It’s probably best experienced from the Matthew Harding Lower.
At 19 years and 332 days old, James is almost a full year younger than Chelsea’s previous youngester goalscorer in the Champions League, Arjen Robben, who scored against CSKA Moscow in 2004 in a 1-0 victory. Surprisingly, it did not involve cutting in from the right wing! (It did involve a fantastic backheel from a personal favorite, Damien Duff.) Robben was 20 years and 284 days old at the time.
Unfortunately, Chelsea could not find a winning goal that VAR would agree to, so we had to settle for the draw this time. But the Season of Reece James is coming!
“Reece is a fantastic young player and he gives what you saw. I think he’ll get much better because he is 19 and that’s just normal. I felt we needed a change for us to get a bit more on the right hand side. [...] Reece can deliver crosses with great quality. He is powerful and joins in. He knows we have got Azpi there who is our captain and right back but he knows we can change things. If Reece does that he can do it. He is going to be a great player for this club.
“He’s got great quality. When you look at the modern full back, the things that are required to join in and be a threat going forwards, some of those in the Premier League are doing it at the moment in an outstanding way. Hopefully Reece can do it for us.”
-Frank Lampard; source: Mail
I think he just might.
P.S.: Incidentally, one of the youngest ever Champions League goalscorers is Mateo Kovacic, who scored for Dinamo Zagreb aged just 17 years and 216 days, closely followed by Cesc Fabregas, who scored for Arsenal aged just 17 years and 218 days!