Norman Whiteside, Northern Ireland – 17 years and 40 days
Northern Ireland Norman Whiteside He is the youngest player to play in the World Cup. The striker was 17 years and 40 days old when he played against Yugoslavia in the 1982 World Cup.
Norman Whiteside failed to become the youngest player to score at the World Cup as the match ended in a draw. However, the Manchester United striker was given a warning which forced him to leave the youngest player to receive a yellow card at the World Cup.
Whiteside’s career was plagued by injuries and he played his last international game at the age of 26. He played in 38 international matches and scored 9 goals against Northern Ireland.
Samuel Eto’o, Cameroon – 17 years and 98 days
Cameroon’s top scorer Samuel Eto’o is the second youngest to make a bow in the Men’s World Cup at the age of 17 years and 98 days. He made his debut in the 1998 FIFA World Cup group stage match in France’s 3-0 loss to Cameroon against Italy.
Samuel Eto’o has represented Cameroon at four FIFA World Cups and has scored 56 goals in 116 international appearances. He retired in 2014.
Femi Opabunmi, Nigeria – 17 years and 100 days
Femi Opabunmi was the second highest goalscorer at the FIFA U-17 World Championship, which earned him a call-up to the Nigerian national team the following year.
The Nigerian winger was 17 years and 100 days old when he made his World Cup debut against England in 2002. But Femi Opabunmi did not play for Nigeria again. He retired four years later after glaucoma blinded him in his right eye.
Salomon Olembe, Cameroon – 17 years and 184 days
Cameroon’s Salomon Olembe is fourth in the list of youngest players to participate in the World Cup.
Olembe made his first appearance for Cameroon in the opening game of the 1998 FIFA World Cup against Austria when he was 17 years and 184 days old. At the time, he was the youngest African to take part in football’s biggest event.
However, his record only lasted a few games as his compatriot Samuel Eto’o scored in Cameroon’s last match of the 1998 World Cup against England just days after his first.
Pele, Brazil – 17 years and 234 days
Unlike many of those on the list of youngest World Cup footballers, Pele actually scored in his first World Cup match when he was 17 years and 239 days old. It was a quarter-final match against Wales at the 1958 World Cup in Sweden.
Pele’s hat-trick in Brazil’s 5-2 rout of France in the semi-finals put him in first place. the youngest football player to score a hat-trick in the World Cup. Pele created more records in the final when he scored a brace in Brazil’s 5-2 win over hosts Sweden. the youngest player to play and score in a World Cup final. He was too the youngest winner of the World Cup in the end.
Pele was part of the Brazil teams that won the World Cup in 1962 and 1970. He retired in 1971 after scoring 77 goals in 92 international matches.
Ifeanyi Chiejine, Nigeria – 16 years and 34 days
Nigeria’s Ifeanyi Chiejin is the youngest footballer to play in a FIFA World Cup at the age of 16 years and 34 days. She made her debut against North Korea in the 1999 Women’s World Cup and also played in 2003 and 2007. He also featured in Nigeria’s 2000 and 2008 Olympic campaigns.
The Nigerian striker retired after the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He died in August 2019 at the age of 36 due to illness.