Playground banter never changes too much over the years. Last night’s football, tonight’s football, girls and plans for the weekend will probably be forming the basis of a few hundred thousands conversations this morning. But one pupil at a school in Huddersfield will be able to tell the story of how he became the Football League’s youngest ever player last night.
Reuben Noble-Lazarus (great name) came on as a substitute for Barnsley in their 3-0 defeat against Ipswich last night. And it was a Noble job because at 15 years and 45 days the youngster is too young to pick up a pay cheque for his efforts.
Realising the dream of many schoolboys, Noble-Lazarus came off the bench in the 84th minute. But today he is back in his GCSE lessons at school. Barnsley have reached an agreement whereby they can take the speedy player out of school two days-a-week to train with the first-team squad (yet another schoolboy dream!).
Barnsley boss Simon Davey, who knew the youngster from his time in charge of the academy, said: “I have kept an eye on him over the last two years and have tried to integrate him as quickly as I could into the first team. He is a confident lad but he is still only 15. He is a talent and we need to nurture him in the right way.”
Noble-Lazarus beat the record of 15 years set by Bradford Park Avenue’s Albert Geldard in 1929 and equalled by Ken Roberts of Wrexham in 1951. The youngest Premier League player record was broken this season by Jose Baxter of Everton, but he was a relatively ancient 16 years and 191 days.
The other modern Football League youngsters
Only five other 15 year olds have played in the Football League in the past 15 years:
Moses Ashikodi (Millwall) aged 15 years 240 days on 22/02/2003
Matthew Etherington (Peterborough) aged 15 years 262 days on 03/05/1997
Lee Holmes (Derby County) aged 15 years 268 days on 26/12/2002
Scott Sinclair (Bristol Rovers) aged 15 years 275 days on 26/12/2004
David Billington (Peterborough) aged 15 years 342 days on 21/09/1996
What this shows us, among other things, is that senior pros love to skive Boxing Day matches!