Child stardom does not guarantee success

Peterborough United's 16 year-old debutant Leonardo Da Silva Lopes in action against Crawley. Picture: Joe Dent

Peterborough United's 16 year-old debutant Leonardo Da Silva Lopes in action against Crawley. Picture: Joe Dent

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At 16 years, four months and 25 days old, Leo Da Silva Lopes became the third youngest Posh player in the club’s Football League history when making his debut against Crawley last Saturday.

Only Matthew Etherington and Charlie Coulson were younger when they made their Posh debuts.

Etherington went on to play in the top flight for Spurs and Stoke, whereas Coulson now plays for Deeping Rangers in the United Counties League.

Coulson and Da Silva are among eight players to have made their Football League debuts at the age of 16.

Goalkeeper Steve Zenchuk sneaks into the top 10 after making his one and only Posh appearance just 14 days after his 17th birthday.

Four of the top 10 youngest Posh players have made debuts in the last four years.

But child stardom does not always lead to a glittering adult career. Etherington is an exception.

David Billington was signed by Sheffield Wednesday for £500k at the age of 17, but injury forced him to retire at the age of 21. Mark Heeley joined Arsenal at 18, but quit the game aged 23.

Top 10 youngest Posh Football League debutants:

1) Matthew Etherington, 1997.

2) Charlie Coulson, 2011.

3) Leo Da Silva Lopes, 2015.

4) Jermaine Anderson, 2012.

5) Mark Heeley, 1976.

6) Keith Oakes, 1973.

7) Andy Furnell, 1993.

8) Jaanai Gordon, 2012.

9) David Billington, 1996.

10) Steve Zenchuk, 1983.