By Richard Clarke

Francesc Fabregas could become Arsenal's youngest ever first-team player tonight if, at the age of 16 years 177 days, he plays a part against Rotherham in the Carling Cup tie at Highbury.

With that in mind, presents "Arsenal's Youngest" - a leaf through the club's record books to find out who made their mark at an early age and what happened to them afterwards.

Youngest player

Jermaine Pennant (16 years 319 days, League Cup Middlesbrough (a), Nov 30, 1999)

In League
Gerry Ward (16 years 321 days, Huddersfield T (h), Aug 22, 1953)

In Premiership
Gavin McGowan (17 years 110 days, Sheff Wed (a), May 6,1993)

Youngest goalscorer

Cliff Bastin (17 years 296 days v Sheff Wed (h), League, Jan 4, 1930. Lost 2-3)

In League
Cliff Bastin (17 years 296 days v Sheff Wed (h), League, Jan 4, 1930. Lost 2-3)

In Premiership
Nicolas Anelka (18 years 230 days v Man Utd (h), League, Nov 9, 1997. Won 3-2)

Youngest scorer of a hat-trick
Cliff Bastin (19 years 275 days v Blackpool (a), League, Oct 10, 1931. Won 5-1)

What happened to those players

Jermaine Pennant has a bright future at Arsenal. He scored a hat-trick on his Premiership debut in the final home game of last season. He has had two loan spells at Watford and is currently with Leeds on the similar temporary transfer. He is due to play against Arsenal on Saturday when the two sides meet at Elland Road. Record: 6 games +8 sub, 3 goals.

Gerry Ward turned professional two months after making his debut. He appeared in three more games that season, spent the following season in the reserves and was called up for National Service the season after that. After he was demobbed, Ward returned to Arsenal and then had periods in and out of the side. He left on a free transfer to Leyton Orient in 1963 and after retirement he managed Barnet. He died in January 1994 age 57. Record: 84 games, 0 goals.

Gavin McGowan came through the ranks at Highbury, winning the FA Youth Cup and three England Youth caps in the process. He spent time on loan at Shewsbury and Luton and joined the Bedfordshire side after being released by Arsenal. He is currently playing for Hornchurch of the Ryman premier division. The Essex side will entertain Darlington in this year's FA Cup first round. Record: 4 games + 3 sub, 0 goals.

Cliff Bastin was Arsenal's record goalscorer until Ian Wright broke his record in 1998. However he still retains the record as top goalscorer in the League (150) and the FA Cup (26). He arrived at Highbury from Exeter for £2,000 in May 1929 and the "Boy Wonder" became the youngest ever England international two years later. He was major part of Herbert Chapman's highly-successful side in the 1930s. However, his career was interrupted by the Second World War and he retired in January 1947. He died in December 1991 age 79. Record 396 games, 178 goals.

Nicolas Anelka left Arsenal for Real Madrid in 1999 after starting 72 games for the club, with a further 17 appearances as a substitute. He scored a total of 28 goals including the second in the FA Cup final of 1998. It secured the club's second ever Double. He subsequently played for Paris St Germain, Liverpool and is currently at Manchester City. Record: 72 games + 17 sub, 28 goals.

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Copyright 2017 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to as the source
Richard Clarke 28 Oct 2003