Top 20 Young English Players Under 20
A list of the 20 best young English players under and including the age of 20. From Arsenal in the Premier League to Leeds in League One, there are some excellent young English prospects and here is proof.
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One of the big criticisms of English football today is that there are not enough good quality young English players. This however should not be taken for face value and there are some excellent prospects out there. To prove it, here is my choice of the 20 best young English players under and including the age of 20.
The cut off point for age in this list is 1st April 2009, and it is based on current ability AND potential. Some players have been included despite a lack of first team football, however their potential is such that they deserve a place. On the other hand, some other players have been chosen despite perhaps having less potential than players not included, because they have established themselves into first teams.
20. Ryan Bertrand
Date Of Birth: 05/08/1989
Bertrand is a fast attacking left back on loan at Norwich from Chelsea. He originally signed for Chelsea from Gillingham for £125,000 in 2005. Bertrand has over 50 senior appearances to his name, pretty good for a 19 year old. He’s a first team regular for Norwich in the Championship and has 1 U21 cap, 10 U19 caps and 2 U17 caps to his name meaning he’s done the youth international rounds. Bertrand has also had successful loan spells at Bournemouth and Oldham, and reserves hopes that he can break into Chelsea’s first team. Currently only 19, Bertrand is thought to have a big future in the game.
19. Scott Sinclair
Date Of Birth: 25/03/1989
This winger/striker has played in the first teams of seven different clubs despite only being 19. He joined Bristol Rovers’ youth system at the age of 9 and made his first team debut at the age of 15 against Leyton Orient. Chelsea then spotted and signed him in 2005, with the fee being set at at £200,000 with future clauses by a tribunal. He then spent the next three seasons on loan at five different Championship clubs including Plymouth, QPR, Charlton, Crystal Palace and Birmingham. He’s also made five first team starts for Chelsea.
Sinclair is another player that’s done the international youth rounds with 5 U17 caps, 4 U18 caps and 5 U19 caps. He’s a player who’s often praised for his speed and skill and is considered by some as a top future prospect for Chelsea.
Date Of Birth: 15/01/1992
Attacking midfielder John Bostock became Crystal Palace’s youngest ever senior player at the age of 15 years and 287 days during his league debut against Watford on the 29th October 2007. He then went on to make a further four appearances including two starts for Palace. Apparently at 15 he was being monitored by Barcelona, however he’s now at Tottenham after the two clubs had to go to a tribunal to decide his fee in May 2008. In the end the tribunal set the fee at £700,000 with a number of add on clauses. Palace chairman Simon Jordan was apparently so disgusted at the transfer that he revoked and refunded the already purchased season tickets of Bostock and his step father.
John Bostock has 20 U17 caps and 6 U16 caps for England. He’s become a full time academy player since joining Tottenham, though he joined and played in Tottenham’s first team for their preparations for the 2008/09 season, and made his competitive first team debut in Tottenham’s 4-0 win over Dinamo Zagreb in November 2008. This appearance made him Tottenham’s youngest ever player at 16 years and 295 days. Currently 17 years old, and many rave reviews, he will be one to watch for the future.
17. Andy Carroll
Date Of Birth: 06/01/1989
The Newcastle striker is often used as a target man because of his towering height and aerial ability. At 20, he’s played 16 times for Newcastle scoring two goals. He also played 11 times and scored one goal for Preston North End during a loan spell in 2007.
Carroll’s experienced his share of controversy after receiving a police caution after allegedly assaulting a woman in September 2008, and getting into a training ground fight with former Newcastle team mate Charles N’Zogbia in January 2009. Despite this he’s signed a three year contract extension at Newcastle, keeping him there until 2013.
Internationally Carroll’s made 8 U19 caps scoring 4 goals. He’s impressed at Newcastle since an early age in their academy and is often praised for his good ball control and vision.
16. Jose Baxter
Date Of Birth: 07/02/1992
Jose Baxter is currently Everton’s youngest ever first team player after appearing as a substitute against Blackburn Rovers when he was aged 16 years and 191 days, taking the record off team mate James Vaughan. The attacking midfielder/striker has played at both U16 and U17 levels for England scoring in both, and captaining both.
There has been a lot of recent buzz over Baxter, with some dubbing him the next Wayne Rooney. He’s been a regular player and scorer for Everton’s U18s since he was 15. Now at 17 he’s slowly starting to be introduced into the first team, with Everton manager David Moyes reportedly being careful over how much first team football he gives him to ensure he reaches his full potential without burning out.
15. Dan Gosling
Date Of Birth: 02/02/1990
Everton’s young midfielder originally started his career at Plymouth, making his debut at 16 years old and going on to play 22 games for Argyle. He joined Everton in January 2008 and made his debut for them against Middlesbrough on boxing day. Two days after he came off the bench against Sunderland and scored his first goal for Everton.
Gosling started off playing on the right of midfield and occasionally at right back for Plymouth, but has since played a few times in the centre of midfield for Everton. He wrote himself into Everton folklore during the 2009 FA Cup forth round against arch rivals Liverpool, when he scored the winner in extra time making it 1-0 to Everton. Since then he’s been considered as having a bright future at Everton, and is starting to edge his way into the first team. Internationally Gosling has played at U17, U18 and U19 levels for England, with the majority of his appearances for the U17s.
14. Victor Moses
Date Of Birth: 12/12/1990
Nigerian born Victor Moses first caught the eye as a 14 year old when he scored a massive 50 goals for Crystal Palace’s U14s. At the age of 16 he began his first team career and has now (at 18) played over 30 games for Palace. There were reports that Arsenal and Chelsea were interested, but instead he signed a four year contract with Palace.
Moses was the top scorer in England’s 2007 U17 world cup campaign (despite missing a few games through injury), and has also played at U16, U18 and U19 levels. He’s a quick player with good technique and an ability to get players on the back foot. He’s also versatile, able to play on either flank or as a striker, and is quite known for his flamboyant celebrations.
13. Joe Mattock
Date Of Birth: 15/05/1990
So it was written that Leicester City shall produce at least one excellent English player per generation. Agreed long gone are the days of Shilton, Whitworth and Lineker, and Leicester’s current England representative of Heskey is approaching the latter stages of his career, but in Joe Mattock this tradition will probably continue.
The left back has represented England at every youth level (U15, U16, U17, U18, U19 & U21) and is currently the second youngest player ever to represent the England U21s (behind Walcott) after his debut against Bulgaria U21s in November 2007 when he was just 17. Since then he’s gone on to claim a further four U21 caps and won BBC East Midlands’ Football Achievement of the Year award in November 2008.
Mattock has been in Leicester’s first team since he was 16 and so far has made over 60 appearances for the club, something rather impressive considering he’s not even 19 yet. Mattock’s a natural striker of the ball who can cross well and pick out long range passes, and also has a good positional sense (unsurprising considering the amount of first team games he’s played). Leicester chairman Mandaric has already turned down seven figure bids for the player thought to be from Aston Villa and West Ham, such is his importance to Leicester’s future.
12. Fabian Delph
Date of Birth: 21/11/1989
The Bradford born midfielder made his debut as an 18-year-old for Leeds when he came on as substitute against Derby County on the last day of the 2006-2007 campaign. Since then he’s played over 40 games for Leeds and won his first England under-21 cap against the Czech Republic in November 2008, after some dazzling performances including a number of long range goals.
Delph, now 19, is a quick and versatile player with good ball control and a good shot on him. A large host of teams have been linked with the midfielder including all of the Premier League big four. Big things are expected from Delph, and he is considered to have an integral part in Leeds’ future (if he stays.)
11. Nathan Delfouneso
Date Of Birth: 02/02/1991
Aston Villa’s Delfouneso has regularly been on the score sheet for England’s youth teams, with three goals for the U16s, six goals for the U17s and one goal for the U19s. He made is debut for Villa’s reserves just a month after turning 16, and ended the season with 22 goals in 41 appearances for the reserves. So far his first team appearances have been limited mostly to Europe, with appearances against FH Hafnarfjörður, MSK Zilina and Hamburger SV, though he scored against the latter two. He also scored in his second ever FA Cup game against Doncaster in February 2009; and has since made a league debut against Tottenham in March 2009.
Delfouneso is a speedy and skilful player held in high regard by Aston Villa manager Martin O’Neil, who has been quoted saying “Next season I expect him to be a fully paid-up member of the first team.” 2009/10 could well be the season for Delfouneso.
10. Freddie Sears
Date Of Birth: 27/11/1991
Sears has been considered an excellent prospect since he was 15, when he was already playing in West Ham’s U18s. The striker really started to raise eyebrows during the 2007/08 campaign, when scored 25 goals in 24 matches for the youths and reserves. It wasn’t long after that he was considered for first team duty, and he famously scored a debut goal against Blackburn Rovers with a diving header in the 81st minute, just 5 minutes and 16 seconds into his first team career.
Sears has gone on to play over 20 games for West Ham in the Premier League, FA Cup and League Cup, and he’s still only 19. Though he hasn’t played in many England youth games (one U19 cap and 2 goals) he’s tipped by many to be a future England star.
(Sears features from 4mins onward)
9. Giles Barnes
Date Of Birth: 05/08/1988
20 year old Barnes has played over 80 times for Derby County since signing professionally as a 17 year old. Had he not suffered from a series of injuries when Derby were in the Premier League then that figure would be even higher. He signed on loan to Fulham with a possible future fee of up to £4 million during the latter part of the 2008/09 season, though he’s since struggled for appearances at the London team.
Barnes is a versatile player, who can play anywhere across midfield and occasionally in a forward position. He was Derby’s Young Player of the Year for the 2006/07 season, and has managed to win 17 England U19 caps scoring 7 goals. He is often praised for his hard working nature on the football field, and has also shown that he has an eye for goal after scoring ten times for Derby. If he can hold off from being injured then there is a good chance that he can make a real impact in the Premier League in the up and coming seasons.
8. Fabrice Muamba
Date Of Birth: 06/04/1988
Muamba only just slots into the list, with his birthday being six days after the set cut off point. He was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and arrived in London at the age of 11 after his father was forced to flee because of his political views. Muamba started out in Aresnal’s youth system from 2002 and signed a professional contract in 2005. A year later he joined Birmingham on loan, and became their Young Player of the Year. In 2007 he signed for Birmingham permanently for a fee thought to be £4 million. After making a total of 74 appearances for The Blues (including 5 goals), he then signed with Bolton Wonders for £5 million at the start of the 2008/09 season.
Muamba, a powerful central midfielder, is sometimes likened to Patrick Vieira in his style of play. He’s been a regular for England’s U21s, and has also captained the U19s during his time with them. So far in just one season he’s made over 30 appearances for Bolton, proving he’s established himself as a Premiership regular before he’s even 21.
7. James Vaughan
Date Of Birth: 06/04/1988
Vaughan is currently the Premier League’s youngest ever goal scorer, after taking the record from James Milner when he scored for Everton against Crystal Palace when he was just 16 years 360 days old. It also made him Everton’s youngest ever scorer, and his appearance in that match made him Everton’s youngest ever first team player.
Vaughan was originally born in Birmingham, but was spotted by Everton’s talent scouts at the age of 9 and brought there. He then went on to make a number of eye catching appearances for the youths and reserves, which eventually led to him being considered for the first team in 2005. Since then he’s gone on to make over 30 appearances for Everton scoring 7 goals, and also featuring in the England U17s, U19s and U21s.
Vaughan is most notable for his blistering pace. In 1999 he was recognised as the 3rd fastest 13 year old in Britain, after being able to run the 100 metres in 11.5 seconds. Unfortunately he is a player who has had numerous trouble with injuries. Early in the 2005/06 season he suffered a knee ligament injury that ruled him out for the rest of the season, he suffered a severed foot artery against Bolton in the following season, a dislocated shoulder in preparation for the 2007/08 season, and another knee injury that ruled him out for the remainder of the 2008/09 season. Otherwise he has bags of talent and if he can shake off all the injuries then he could become a valuable player for England.
6. Danny Welbeck
Date Of Birth: 26/11/1990
Welbeck struck his way into the fore-front of people’s minds during his Manchester United league debut against Stoke, where he curled a 30 yard shot into the top right hand corner of the net. Since then there have been numerous rave reviews and comparisons of his potential. Because of his height and the way he runs people usually compare him to Emmanuel Adebayor or Nwankwo Kanu.
Welbeck was born in Manchester to Ghanaian parents, and brought up through Manchester United’s youth system. He started playing for United’s U18s when he was 15 years old, and was promoted to the reserve team when he was 16. In January 2008 (when he was 17) Alex Ferguson declared that he had become a squad member of the first team. This was followed by a number of cup games and his league debut. In the mean time he also climbed up England’s youth ranks playing for the U16s, U17s, U19s and was called up to the U21s.
Despite many considering him to have a bright future for England, there have also been reports that his parent’s native Ghana have been looking at him with a view to calling him up. On top of this there have even been reports that Scotland are considering him, with him apparently being eligible again through his parents. Clearly Welbeck is a very wanted man, and if all goes well, could become a very good player indeed.
5. Jack Rodwell
Date Of Birth: 11/03/1991
Rodwell made his senior European debut for Everton at the age of 16 years and 284 days against AZ Alkmaar, making him the youngest player ever to represent Everton in Europe. His big leap to prominence came during the 2008/2009 season, when he started to establish himself in the Everton first team appearing in over 15 senior games despite the fact he’s only 18. In February 2009 the club happily announced that he had signed a five year contract with the Toffees.
Southport born Rodwell started early on quite a few things. He made his debut in Everton’s under 18s at just 14 years old, and went on to make his reserve debut at just 15. Internationally Rodwell’s played for the England U16s, U17s and captained the U19s, as well as earning a call up to the U21s.
Rodwell is often praised as a good reader of the game, for his good ball control, and good composure.
4. Jack Wilshere
Date Of Birth: 01/01/1992
Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere is undoubtedly one of the most exciting prospects England has at the moment. If you don’t believe me then watch the video below. He made his Premier League debut at the age of the age of 16 years and 256 days, making him Arsenal’s youngest-ever league debutant. On 25th November 2008 he played in Arsenal’s Champions League game against Dynamo Kyiv, making him only the fifth 16 year old to play in the Champions League. He was 15 when he played for the England U16s, 16 when he played for the U17s and 17 when he played for the U19s.
He is most notable for his strength (despite his lack of height), vision, technique and ball skill. He has been compared by Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger to midfielder Cesc Fabrgas because of his footballing maturity and “they both have the same potential and they aren’t frightened of going into the challenges.” Injuries permitting, Wilshere has a very exciting future ahead of him.
3. Daniel Sturridge
Date Of Birth: 01/09/1989
2008/09 was definitely the season for Daniel Sturridge. The young Man City striker has taken his potential and splashed it all over the Premier League. Now Man City are desperate to keep hold of him whilst every other big English team is trying to attract him. He’s earned praise from all fronts including world class team mate Robinho and Man City manager Mark Hughes. Daniel Sturridge is certainly a player on the rise.
Originally, Birmingham born Sturridge began his career at Aston Villa, before moving to Coventry, and then to Manchester City’s academy in 2003. A year later he was the academy’s leading scorer. He continued his development from there and made his fist team debut against Reading in February 2007. Later that season he became the first player ever to score in the FA Youth Cup, the FA Cup and the Premier League, all in the same season.
Sturridge is quick, strong and has a power strike on him that’s served him very well, particularly in England’s youth teams. He’s scored 5 goals in 6 games for England’s U17s, with the most notable goal in the U17s European Championship final against Italy. He’s also played for the U16s and U19s, and if he fulfils his potential he could well be appearing for England’s first team in the not too distant future.
2. Micah Richards
Date Of Birth: 24/06/1988
It’s easy to forget sometimes that Richards is just 20. Other players his age are trying to find their way into club first teams, whilst Richards has found his way into England’s first team making 11 caps so far, and heading in his first international goal against Israel in September 2008. Richards seemed unstoppable in the 2007/08 season and a natural replacement for Neville on the right of England’s defence. In the 2008/09 season however he suffered a loss of form after returning from an injury and Wes Brown took his England spot instead. He kept his Man City first team position however and has so far made over 90 first team appearances for the club.
One difference from Richard’s football upbringing to many other players is that he attended, and has become the most successful graduate from, Simon Clifford’s increasingly famous Brazilian Soccer Schools. Otherwise, though he’s originally from Leeds, Richards first professional club was Oldham Athletic when he joined them at the age of 12. He then moved to Manchester City in 2006 and his potential took off from there.
Practically every big Premier league club has been linked to Richards at some point or another, and his loss of form has led some to believe that Arsenal would be the best place for him under the guidance of Arsene Wenger. Regardless, Micah Richards is one of England’s best young prospects and his potential hasn’t changed, nor has his ability. He’s quick, athletic, powerful, a good reader of the game and a dominant presence in any defence. There are few young defenders in the world that can measure up to his ability, and if and when he recaptures his form he will become a world class defender.
1. Theo Walcott
Date Of Birth: 16/03/1988
Unavoidably and undeniably Walcott sits very comfortably in the number one slot. There were worries at one point that he wouldn’t reach his potential, but they are all dead and buried now. 6 England caps, 3 goals and a hell of a future ahead of him. Walcott is lightning fast, incredibly skilful and a natural finisher. Arsenal’s winger/striker is without a doubt England’s best player of 20 and under.
Although Walcott is most known for coming from Southampton before Arsenal, he actually first played for A.F.C Newbury in Berkshire. He scored 100 goals in 35 matches for Newbury and won the Peter Houseman League and Cup during his time there. Next he was snapped up by Swindon Town’s Centre of Excellence, and he stayed for 18 months before moving to Southampton for only £2,000. A great few years at Southampton, a £12 million move to Arsenal making him the most expensive 16 year old in the history of British football, and the rest is history. Now 20 years old with over 50 appearances for the big four club and frequent call-ups from his country, he is arguably the best young prospect England has the moment (if you don’t count Rooney.)
(stick it on mute)
Also for consideration
Josh Wright, Jake Livermore, Henri Lansbury, Kieran Gibbs, Jack Cork, Jack Hobbs, Adam Lallana, Kyle Naughton, Frank Fielding, Sam Hutchinson, Jordan Spence, Ashley Chambers, Will Buckley, Sam Baldock, Mark Beevers, Jay Simpson, Mark Randall, Nathaniel Clyne, James Henry, Krystian Pearce, Scott Loach.
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