24. Fabregas becomes youngest Gunner

Cesc Fabregas makes his Arsenal debut against Rotherham United

Cesc Fabregas becomes Arsenal's youngest ever player 28 October 2003

A 1-1 draw with Rotherham in the League Cup Third Round hardly sounds a mouthwatering occasion but, on October 28, 2003, Highbury witnessed a record-breaking debut and one of the strangest finales to a cup tie in memory.

When Cesc Fabregas took the field that night he became the youngest player to represent Arsenal in any competition, aged just 16 years and 177 days. 

He took the record from Jermaine Pennant, who made his debut aged 16 years and 319 days in the same competition four years before.

Joined in the side by fellow debutants Justin Hoyte, Jerome Thomas, Gael Clichy, Graham Stack and substitute Ryan Smith, Fabregas put in a mature performance in the centre of midfield.

Arsenal started well and led after 11 minutes through Jeremie Aliadiere, but a 90th-minute equaliser from Darren Byfield sent the match to extra time. 

The sides could not be separated and the match went to a penalty shoot-out. 

Sylvain Wiltord missed the first kick but, ironically, he scored the winning penalty later on as Arsenal triumphed 9-8.

Both sides went through an entire team of penalty takers, including goalkeepers, before Wiltord stepped up for his second chance.

Fabregas went on to score in the 5-1 win over Wolves in the Fourth Round, becoming Arsenal’s youngest goalscorer at the age of 16 years and 212 days.

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