The FIFA World Cup is a platform that often shines the spotlight on generational talents.
Footballing greats such as Pele, Franz Beckenbauer, Kylian Mbappe have all lit up the sport's grandest stage at a very young age.
So have currenst stars like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. These players made their World Cup debuts pretty early in their careers and have gone on to become legends of the game.
So who is the youngest player to ever play in a World Cup? Is it Pele? Or is it Messi?
Messi 🇦🇷🤝🇦🇷 Maradona— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) May 2, 2022
Would this be the most unstoppable duo ever? pic.twitter.com/f1cburcYG9
When did Lionel Messi make his World Cup debut?
Lionel Messi made his World Cup debut at the age of 18 years, 11 months, 24 days against Serbia and Montenegro on June 16, 2006 in Argentina's second group stage match. La Albiceleste won the tie 6-0 with Messi scoring on his World Cup debut after coming on as a substitute.
When did Cristiano Ronaldo make his World Cup debut?
Cristiano Ronaldo made his World Cup debut at the age of 21 years, 4 months, 7 days against Angola on June 11, 2006. He started on the right wing and played for an hour before being replaced by Costinha. Portugal won the match 1-0 riding on the solo strike of Pauleta.
🔙 #OnThisDay in 1957 a 16-year-old @Pele scored, on his international debut 🆚 @Argentina, the 1st of 77 goals for @CBF_Futebol 🇧🇷— FIFA.com (@FIFAcom) July 7, 2020
👑 'The King' remains Brazil's youngest scorer, leading marksman & the only player to have won 3 #WorldCup trophies 🤩🤩🤩 pic.twitter.com/j2Suhmrct7
Is Pele the youngest-ever to play in the World Cup?In the 1958 World Cup, Pele missed the first couple of games as he was nursing a knee injury. At 17 years, 7 months, 24 days he made his debut in the third match against USSR on June 15 and provided an assist.
Despite, making his debut at the the tender age of 17, Pele is not the youngest debutant in World Cup history. So who holds that record?
Who is the youngest player to play in the World Cup?
Norman Whiteside of Northern Ireland is the youngest player ever to play in the World Cup. At just 17 years and 41 days, when he made his debut in the 1982 World Cup against Yugoslavia he broke Pele's record to set a new one.
However, the attacking midfielder could not score a goal in that tournament which meant that Pele's record of being the youngest goal-scorer in the World Cup was not broken.
On this day in 1982 Northern Ireland’s Norman Whiteside became the youngest player to appear at a World Cup.— 1980s TV Football Heaven (@1980sHeaven) June 17, 2022
Manager Billy Bingham explained why he picked Whiteside, who had just turned 17 and made his debut at club level a few weeks earlier.#WorldCup82revisited #OnThisDay pic.twitter.com/agmqcyNHxr
Top-10 Youngest Players in World Cup history
17 years and 41 days
Yugoslavia vs Northern Ireland (June 17, 1982)
17 years, three months, and seven days
Italy vs Cameroon (June 17, 1998)
17 years three months and nine days
Nigeria vs England (June 12, 2002)
17 years, six months, and three days
Cameroon vs Austria (June 11, 1998)
|17 years, 7 months, 24 days|
Brazil vs USSR (June 15, 1958)
17 years, eight months, and one day
Argentina vs Nigeria (June 2, 2002)
17 years, 11 months, and 18 days
Cameroon vs Sweden (June 19, 1994)
18 years and 25 days
Yugoslavia vs Brazil (July 14, 1930)
18 years, 2 months, and 26 days.
France vs Mexico (July 13, 1930)
18 years and 4 months
Denmark vs Netherlands (June 14, 2010)