Chelsea are up against their London rivals Arsenal in the Europa League final on Wednesday at the Olympic Stadium, Baku. Chelsea could list one of their young midfielder Ethan Ampadu as most of their top midfielders have been ruled out due to injury.
A lot of Nigerian players have donned the Chelsea jersey in the past and present. In this article, we will be listing the top five youngest Nigerian in Chelsea’s history.
5) 19 years, 3 months and 22 days: Obi Mikel (Chelsea 1 Liverpool 2, 13-08-2006)
Mikel came in as a substitute in Chelsea’s 2-1 loss to Liverpool in the Community shield a curtain raiser before the Premier League started proper. He replaced Paulo Ferriera in the 81st minute.
On 12 September 2006, Mikel made his first start for Chelsea in the UEFA Champions League against Bulgarian club Levski Sofia and took a powerful shot which the goalkeeper failed to save and Didier Drogba pounced on the rebound. Mikel received many positive comments for his performance in the match. However, since being sent off in a match against Reading on 14 October 2006, Mikel was fined on three separate occasions by Chelsea for turning up late to training.
At the time, Chelsea manager José Mourinho was believed to have strong reservations about his lifestyle outside of Stamford Bridge, and the club were reportedly considering offloading the player. Mikel was dropped for over a month, during which his father Michael voiced his concerns over his son’s behaviour. After improved punctuality and showings at training sessions, Mikel earned a recall for Chelsea’s Champions League group stage away game against Werder Bremen on 23 November 2006.
He scored his first goal for Chelsea in their 6–1 FA Cup victory over Macclesfield Town on 6 January 2007. He also scored against Nottingham Forest in the following round of the competition.
4) 19 years, 1 month and 3 days: Celestine Babayaro (Slovan Bratislava 0 Chelsea 2, 02-10-1997)
Babayaro was signed by Chelsea after being spotted by scout Lewis Durkin in April 1997. He moved for a transfer fee of £2.25 million, a club record paid for a teenager at the time. He made his debut in the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup against Slovan Bratislava, but an injury sustained in the 6–1 win over rivals Tottenham Hotspur in December 1997 ruled him out for the rest of the season.
This meant he missed their victories in the 1998 Football League Cup Final and the 1998 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup Final. However, with Chelsea he went on to win the 1998 UEFA Super Cup, the FA Cup and Charity Shield in 2000, and reached the 2002 FA Cup Final.
Babayaro won the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, UEFA Super Cup and FA Cup while at Chelsea and made 132 appearances for the club in the Premier League, scoring five goals.
3) 18 years, 7 months and 9 days: Tammy Abraham (Liverpool 1 Chelsea 1, 11-05-2016)
On 11 May 2016, Hiddink handed Abraham his Chelsea debut in a 1–1 Premier League draw with Liverpool, bringing him on to replace Bertrand Traoré in the 74th minute.
Abraham then made his home debut at Stamford Bridge the following week, once again coming on as a second-half substitute for Traoré in a 1–1 draw with newly-crowned Premier League Champions Leicester City.
2) 18 years, 4 months and 26 days: Fikayo Tomori (Chelsea 1 Leicester City 1, 15-05-2016)
On 11 May 2016, Tomori was named upon the first-team substitute bench along with fellow academy players Tammy Abraham and Kasey Palmer, in Chelsea’s 1–1 draw with Liverpool. However, he failed to make an appearance at Anfield.
On 15 May 2016, in Chelsea’s final game of the 2015/16 campaign, Tomori made his professional debut in a 1–1 draw with Premier League champions Leicester City, replacing Branislav Ivanović in the 60th minute.
Although Tomori was included in the United States pre-season tour, he did not make a single appearance. On 1 August 2016, Tomori signed a new four-year contract ahead of the 2016–17 campaign. On 12 August 2016, Tomori was handed the number 33 shirt prior to the season’s beginning, switching from his previous number 43.
1) 17 years, 1 month and 7 days: Dominic Solanke (Chelsea 6 NK Maribor 0, 21-10-2014)
Solanke signed his first professional contract with Chelsea in September 2014. Due to the injury of Diego Costa, Solanke was named on the bench for a Premier League match against Crystal Palace on 18 October 2014.
Three days later, he made his first-team debut as a substitute for Oscar in the 73rd minute of a 6–0 win over NK Maribor in the UEFA Champions League. This made him the youngest player to debut in the UEFA Champions League for Chelsea.
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