Northern Ireland schoolboy, 13, is UK s youngest senior footballer
September 15, 2022 10:00 AM
Northern Irish schoolboy Christopher Atherton became the UK's youngest senior footballer when he made his debut for club side Glenavon this week.
Atherton broke a record that had stood for 42 years after he was introduced as a second-half substitute for the team in their 6-0 win against Dollingstown on Tuesday.
The teenager's first touch was an assist, setting up Glenavon's sixth goal in the League Cup tie.
Aged 13 years and 329 days, the striker is almost exactly a year younger than the previous youngest British player -- Eamon Collins, who made his Blackpool debut aged 14 years and 323 days in 1980.
Glenavon manager Gary Hamilton has known Atherton for eight years as he played in the same team as his son, Callum.
"I don't think any of us were aware of (the record) but a tweet went out before kick-off and one of the staff noticed it," Hamilton told Sky Sports News.
"But he got his debut based on his ability and a reward for the way he's been playing right through the age groups.
"He's only a third year at school. We brought him in to train with the first team last year and he never looked out of place."
Hamilton decided to give Atherton his debut at such a tender age after seeing how he handled playing against far older team-mates in training.
But he warned it was too soon to make predictions about how far he would go in the game.
"At such a young age to be able to come in and train with men and look so comfortable, all the players have commented how scary that is for a teenager," he said.
"But with that comes a lot of hard work away from us as well. We just want to keep him grounded."