8 wonderkids given breakthrough by Mourinho after Afena-Gyan shines for Roma

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After 18-year-old Felix Afena-Gyan netted both goals from the bench in Roma's 2-0 victory away at Genoa, Jose Mourinho may have unleashed yet another wonderkid onto the world stage.

The Ghanaian forward was only brought onto the field with a quarter of an hour to play but scored twice in the space of eight minutes, including a scorching second he curled in from outside the area.

Following the match, a delighted Mourinho rewarded the teenager with a new pair of €800 trainers, although the gift was marred by controversy for the Roma manager's off-camera remark.

Often renowned for his preference for senior players, the Special One receives plenty of criticism for his reluctance to give youth a chance.

But Daily Star Sport brings you eight wonderkids who were handed their debut by none other than Jose Mourinho…

Alvaro Morata

Coming on as an 88th-minute sub, Morata made his debut aged 18 for Real Madrid, replacing Angel Di Maria against Real Zaragoza back in 2013

Although it would take the Spaniard more than two years to make his first start in La Liga.

Have we missed anyone off this list? Let us know in the comments section.

He was thrown in at the deep end in 2013, playing the full 90 minutes of a 2-1 El Clasico win and even provided an assist for Karim Benzema's opening goal.

Morata made 18 appearances for Jose Mourinho at Los Blancos before being sold to Serie A giants Juventus by new boss Carlo Ancelotti in 2014.

Scott McTominay

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Handed his debut by the Special One in 2017, McTominay was just 20 years old when he came off the bench against Arsenal in the Premier League.

An unused substitute in Manchester United's next two matches, the Scotsman would claim his first start on the last day of the 2016/17 season in a 2-0 home win over Crystal Palace.

And Mourinho was so bowled over by McTominay's performances in his 2017/18 breakthrough season that the Portuguese boss awarded him Manager's Player of the Season.

Though the honour was not on the shortlist at the start of the evening, Mourinho claimed it would be "unacceptable" if his no.39 went home from the award's evening empty-handed.

Pablo Sarabia

Now plying his trade with the likes of Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi at PSG, Sarabia was originally a product of Los Blancos academy, La Fabrica.

And it was another world star he replaced for his sole appearance at Real Madrid.

An 18-year-old Sarabia switched with Cristiano Ronaldo on the left-hand side against French side AJ Auxerre in the Champions League.

Though on this occasion the Special One did not find favour with the youngster and Sarabia was flogged to Getafe in the summer transfer window.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek

An 83rd-minute replacement for Cesc Fabregas in 2014, Loftus-Cheek recorded his first appearance for Chelsea against Sporting Lisbon in the Champions League.

But, like Sarabia, the 19-year-old was cast out by Mourinho and made just a further eight showings for the Portuguese at Stamford Bridge.

"Jose Mourinho held him back," said Loftus-Cheek's dad Trevor when speaking to the Daily Mail.

"He should have been playing. Everyone behind the scenes was asking: ‘why isn’t he playing?’

"If Ruben was playing for Mauricio Pochettino, he’d have 70, 80, 90 first-team appearances by now."

Nacho Fernandez

Handed his first senior debut in a 6-3 victory over Valencia in 2011, Nacho was utilised at left-back ahead of Marcelo, with the Brazilian rested for Real Madrid's Champions League semi-final against Barcelona.

The 21-year-old featured again the following week but the 3-2 home loss to Real Zaragoza would be his last game in La Liga for 554 days.

The Spaniard would also make his comeback game against Real Zaragoza, replacing Alvaro Arbeloa in the 81st-minute.

A four-time Champions League and two-time La Liga winner with Los Blancos, Nacho is approaching his 250th appearance for Real Madrid.

Andreas Christensen

Christensen only ever featured three times for Mourinho but the Portuguese boss did hand him his first start against Shrewsbury in the League Cup.

The 18-year-old played the entirety of the match as Chelsea bounced back from a late equaliser to book their place in the last eight of the competition.

As well as the famous 4-2 FA Cup defeat to Bradford City, the Danish international did also make one final showing for Mourinho.

Christensen was used as a late substitute on the final day of the 2014/15 season as the Blues lifted the Premier League trophy at Stamford Bridge.


A baby-faced Fabinho made his debut aged 19 for the Special One, replacing Fabio Coentrao against Malaga with just 14 minutes left to play.

It would still be enough time for the Brazilian to make an impact on the game though.

Fabinho assisted Real Madrid's sixth goal by playing the ball back to Angel Di Maria on the edge of the area before the Argentine bent one into the bottom corner.

Now held in high esteem as one of the best defensive midfielders in the world, Fabinho is a Champions League and Premier League winner with Liverpool.

Japhet Tanganga

Tanganga was handed his Premier League debut by Jose Mourinho in 2020 – although he had featured in the League Cup under Mauricio Pochettino just two months before the Argentine's departure.

And despite losing the match 1-0 to eventual league winners Liverpool, the 20-year-old received high praise from his boss after the full-time whistle.

"The kid has reason to be very happy with his level, not with the result obviously, but with his first game in the Premier League, it couldn't be a bigger one and he did it amazingly," said Mourinho.

The youngster would go on to feature in five of Tottenham's next seven matches before sustaining a back injury and dropping out of the side.

  • Jose Mourinho
  • Chelsea FC
  • Tottenham Hotspur FC
  • Manchester United FC
  • Real Madrid FC

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