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Champions League history rewritten – Pepe and Yamal become the oldest and yongest players to feature in the knock-outs

In a historical Wednesday night in the Champions League, Lamine Yamal and Pepe etched their names into the record books. At just 16 years and 223 days old, Lamine Yamal became the youngest player to ever grace a UEFA Champions League knock-out match. His debut in this high-stakes stage came during last night in Barcelona’s tense 1:1 draw away to Napoli. Since the turn of the year, the attacking player has shown maturity beyond his years, earning the trust of Barca’s manager, Xavi, who has named Yamal as a starter in each of the team’s last eight games.

On the other end of the age spectrum, Pepe became the oldest outfield player to start in the Champions League direct eliminations at 40 years and 360 days. His experience and leadership were on full display as he helped Porto to an important 1:0 victory in the 1st leg of their clash with Arsenal.

A curious fact that arises is that Yamal was born two years after Pepe played his first Champions League knockout match. Such a drastic gap comes to illustrate the incredible span of Pepe’s career and the rapid rise of young talents like Yamal.

While Yamal won’t get any younger, by the time Porto visits Arsenal on March 12th for the return leg, Pepe will have celebrated his 41st birthday. Should he stay fit and be chosen by the manager, the veteran defender will step onto the field at the Emirates Stadium even older.