In our first chapter of the know your history for Derby County News, we take a look at the top five youngest ever debutants for the Rams with four coming this side of the millennium.
The Rams are a founder member of the football league. With a history stretching over 100 years, Derby has seen plenty players make their debut for the east Midlands club.
But who were the top five youngest debutants?
5. Mark O’Brien:
At 16 years, five months and 13 days old, Irish defender Mark O’Brien became one of Derby’s youngest ever debutants as he featured at Watford in May 2009.
It was an end-of-season Championship encounter, with Derby already safe from relegation.
Then manager Nigel Clough had settled in at Pride Park and was looking to the future, which included the introduction of O’Brien in a 3-1 defeat at Vicarage Road.
The 28-year-old went on to make 32 appearances for the Rams, before moving on to Luton Town and Newport County. He retired last summer after requiring heart valve surgery.
4. Kaide Gordon
Derby’s latest member of the top five youngest ever debutants is Kaide Gordon.
At 16, two months and 24 days old, Gordon came on as a late substitute in the 4-0 win at Birmingham City earlier this season as Derby hoped to retain him amid interest.
Liverpool, however, signed the talent during the January transfer window.
Liverpool U18 coach Marc Bridge-Wilkinson says Gordon is already starting to show his enormous potential after impressing for the Reds youth team, Liverpool Echo report.
3. Steve Powell
Former right-back Steve Powell became Derby’s youngest ever debutant in 1971.
At 16 years, one month and 03 days, Powell featured in a 2-1 win over Arsenal.
The versatile defender stayed at Derby for his entire career, making over 350 appearances for the Rams and winning the top-flight twice.
Powell’s tag as the club’s youngest ever debutant stood for over 30 years.
2. Lee Holmes
Lee Holmes took Powell’s record as the youngster ever Rams debutant as he featured in a 3-1 defeat to Grimsby on Boxing Day 2002 aged 15 years, eight months and 24 days.
The tricky winger had an abundance of potential but broke through at a difficult time.
Derby had been relegated from the Premier League in the 2001/02 campaign, and they struggled on and off the pitch with George Burley’s 2004/05 season a highlight.
Holmes also became Derby’s youngest ever goal scorer in October 2003.
But after making 52 appearances for the club in all competitions, Holmes left to join Southampton in 2008 before spells at Preston North End and Swindon Town.
1. Mason Bennett
Mason Bennett now stands as Derby’s youngest ever debutant after he appeared in a 2-0 defeat at Middlesbrough aged 15 years, three months and seven days.
Nigel Clough saw Bennett’s potential after his excellent scoring form at youth level and gave him his first-team debut on October 22 in 2011.
Capable of playing as a wide forward or striker, Bennett went on to make over 70 Championship appearances for Derby before joining Millwall on a permanent basis last summer.
Derby’s academy is currently thriving and amid a potential relegation to League One, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Bennett’s record broken sooner rather than later.
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