This week our statistician Josh James takes an in-depth look at the Club’s youngest ever goalscorers.
When Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain scored against Shrewsbury Town on September 20, he became the 15th youngest goalscorer in the Club’s history, and the sixth youngest of the Arsène Wenger era.
He was just 36 days past his 18th birthday when he scored the second goal in the 3-1 Carling Cup win at Emirates Stadium, but there have been a surprising number of even younger players to net for the Gunners, including one more than 100 years ago.
Arsenal’s all-time youngest scorer is Cesc Fabregas, one of two players to break their Gunners duck while still a 16-year-old (Jack Wilshere is the other).
The Club record for youngest scorer has actually only been broken twice in the past 116 years.
Way back in January 1895, when Woolwich Arsenal were in their second ever season of league football, in the old Division Two, Tommy Meade scored in a 3-2 win over Newcastle United. A diminutive centre-forward, he was 17 years and 247 days old when he broke his duck for the Club, in only his second appearance.
He went on to score just six more goals for the Gunners before leaving for Tottenham Hotspur (not yet our north London rivals) in 1897. He stayed at Spurs for three years before moving to Fulham. His record as the Club’s youngest scorer would truly stand the test of time, lasting for more than 87 years.
Then, on March 13, 1982, Stewart Robson – aged four months younger than Meade at 17 years and 127 days – scored his first for Arsenal. It was the only goal of a 1-0 Division One win over Ipswich Town at Highbury. Stewart, who now provides tactical analysis for the matchday programme and Arsenal.com, finished his Arsenal career with 21 goals from 186 appearances, having made his debut at the age of 17 years and 29 days.
Twenty-one years later, Fabregas took more than nine months off the record when he scored at Highbury against Wolves in the Fourth Round of the Carling Cup in December 2003. Sylvain Wiltord crossed low from the right, and the Spaniard – wearing the No 57 shirt - tapped into an empty net from close range with his left foot to make it 5-1 in the 88th minute.
The table below lists the 15 youngest scorers in Arsenal history, at the age they were when they scored their first goal for the Club. Therefore players only appear on the list once, regardless of their age when they scored subsequent goals.
|Cesc Fabregas||16 years 212 days||League Cup||Wolves||5-1||December 2, 2003|
|Jack Wilshere||16 years 269 days||League Cup||Sheffield United||6-0||September 23, 2008|
|Stewart Robson||17 years 127 days||Division One||Ipswich Town||1-0||March 13, 1982|
|Arturo Lupoli||17 years 143 days||League Cup||Everton||2-0||November 9, 2004|
|Tommy Meade||17 years 247 days||Division Two||Newcastle United||3-2||January 12, 1895|
|George Armstrong||17 years 265 days||Division One||Everton||2-3||May 1, 1962|
|Jon Sammels||17 years 278 days||Division One||Blackpool||2-3||April 27, 1963|
|Cliff Bastin||17 years 296 days||Division One||Sheffield Wednesday||2-3||January 4, 1930|
|Reg Lewis||17 years 300 days||Division One||Everton||2-1||January 1, 1938|
|Aaron Ramsey||17 years 301 days||Champions League||Fenerbahce||5-2||October 21, 2008|
|John Radford||17 years 315 days||Division One||Wolves||4-1||January 2, 1965|
|Ray Parkin||17 years 339 days||Division One||Sunderland||1-5||January 1, 1929|
|Theo Walcott||17 years 350 days||League Cup||Chelsea||1-2||February 25, 2007|
|Paul Vaessen||18 years 28 days||League Cup||Brighton||4-0||November 13, 1979|
||18 years 36 days||League Cup||Shrewsbury Town||3-1||September 20, 2011|
Between them, these 15 players went on to make a total of 2,844 first-team outings for Arsenal (at an average of 190 each) scoring a cumulative 719 Gunners goals (averaging 48 each). Both figures are well above average for an Arsenal career, and bear in mind too that four of them (Wilshere, Ramsey, Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain) are still active for the Club. So the stats suggest that scoring young for Arsenal can be the gateway to a long and successful career.
Three of the 15 went on to become members of the newly-enlarged 100 Club – Cliff Bastin, John Radford and Reg Lewis.
Bastin – nicknamed ‘Boy Bastin’ for his teenage goalscoring prowess – was Arsenal’s record goalscorer for more than 50 years.
Lewis scored his first Gunners goals just before the outbreak of the Second World War. He scored a further 143 goals in wartime football and, if you include the goals he scored at all levels for Arsenal, he would be the Club’s all-time leading scorer with 392.
Radford’s first goals for the Club were actually in the form of a hat-trick, making him the youngest ever hat-trick scorer (17 years 315 days) for the Club – a record he still holds.
Three of the players on the list scored on their debuts (Sammels, Lewis and Parkin) while Lupoli notched twice in the game listed. Five of the scorers were on target in defeats, including Walcott’s strike in the 2007 Carling Cup Final at the Millennium Stadium.
|1992/3||Ray Parlour||19 years 176 days|
|1993/4||Ray Parlour||20 years 299 days|
|1994/5||John Hartson||19 years 290 days|
|1995/6||John Hartson||20 years 230 days|
|1996/7||Patrick Vieira||20 years 168 days|
|1997/8||Nicolas Anelka||18 years 240 days|
|1998/9||Nicolas Anelka||19 years 189 days|
|1999/00||Thierry Henry||22 years 32 days|
|2000/01||Ashley Cole||19 days 260 days|
|2001/02||Francis Jeffers||20 years 238 days|
|2002/03||Jeremie Aliadiere||19 years 48 days|
|2003/04||Jose Antonio Reyes||20 years 246 days|
|2004/05||Cesc Fabregas||17 years 113 days|
|2005/06||Cesc Fabregas||18 years 206 days|
|2006/07||Cesc Fabregas||19 years 345 days|
|2007/08||Theo Walcott||18 years 344 days|
|2008/09||Theo Walcott||19 years 216 days|
|2009/10||Aaron Ramsey||18 years 239 days|
|2010/11||Jack Wilshere||18 years 330 days|
|2011/12||Aaron Ramsey||20 years 280 days|
As you can see above, Ramsey is the youngest player to score for Arsenal so far in this, the 20th season of the Premier League.
Teenagers have been on target for Arsenal in 13 (65 per cent) of those 20 campaigns, with two different teenagers scoring league goals for the Club in 2005/06 (Fabregas and Abou Diaby), 2007/08 (Walcott and Nicklas Bendtner) and 2009/10 (Ramsey and Fran Merida). In more than half of the seasons (55 per cent) Arsenal’s youngest scorer has been British.
Fabregas holds our record for youngest Premier League scorer (17 years 113 days), set on August 25, 2004 in a 3-0 home victory over Blackburn Rovers. That match was the 43rd in the famous 49-game unbeaten league run – the game which took Arsenal past Nottingham Forest’s old record tally. In fact Cesc was the only teenager to score for Arsenal in the whole of that run.
Fabregas also holds the Club records for youngest League Cup goalscorer and youngest Champions League scorer (17 years 218 days). The Club record for youngest FA Cup scorer was set back in January 11, 1930, when Bastin – then aged 17 years and 303 days, netted against Chelsea – a week after scoring his first ever league goal.
|Peter Ofori-Quaye||17 years 195 days||Olympiacos||Rosenborg||1-5||October 1, 1997|
|Cesc Fabregas||17 years 218 days
||Arsenal||Rosenborg||5-1||December 7, 2004|
|Bojan Krkic||17 years 218 days||Barcelona||FC Schalke||1-0||April 1, 2008|
|Martin Klein||17 years 241 days||Sparta Prague||Panathinaikos||1-2||February 27, 2002|
|Aaron Ramsey||17 years 301 days||Arsenal||Fenerbahce||5-2||October 21, 2008|
|Karim Benzema||17 years 353 days||Lyon||Rosenborg||2-1||December 6, 2005|
|Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain||18 years 44 days||Arsenal||Olympiacos||2-1||September 28, 2011|
|Mariyan Ognyanov||18 years 60 days||Levski Sofia||Chelsea||1-3||September 27, 2006|
|Sammy Kuffour||18 years 61 days
||Bayern Munich||Spartak Moscow||2-2||November 2, 1994|
||18 years, 70 days
||December 7, 1994
Eight days after scoring against Shrewsbury, Oxlade-Chamberlain became the youngest ever Englishman to score in the Champions League with his effort against Olympiacos. He took the record from fellow Gunner Walcott, who was 18 years and 222 days when finding the net against Slavia Prague in a 7-0 win in October 2007.
Interestingly, it means that both the youngest and oldest Englishmen to score in Champions League history did so for Arsenal: Lee Dixon remains the oldest Englishman to score in the competition, aged 36 years and 223 days when he notched against Sparta Prague on October 25, 2000.
The goalscoring didn’t stop there for Oxlade-Chamberlain. Last week he scored his first goals for England Under-21s, a hat-trick in the Euro 2013 qualifier in Iceland. It makes him the youngest player to score a hat-trick for England Under-21s.
The record for youngest ever goalscorer for England Under-21 is also held by an Arsenal player – Walcott was 17 and 152 days when he scored against Moldova at Portman Road in August 2006. He had already become England youngest ever senior international (17 years 75 days) and later became the youngest player ever to score a hat-trick for England (19 years 178 days) on September 10, 2008 at Croatia.
Josh James also provides the stats for the Arsenal Analysis pages of the matchday programme. To subscribe, or buy online, click here. With thanks to Fred Ollier.