11 wonderkids Jose Mourinho handed debuts to, like Alvaro Morata and Fabinho, after Felix Afena-Gyan shines for Roma

JOSE Mourinho gets a bad rep for not giving youth players a chance in the first team.

But as last weekend showed, he's not afraid to give a teenager a shot at glory, if they are good enough.

The Special One introduced 18-year-old Felix Afena-Gyan into the fray as Roma took on Genoa.

And the kid became an instant hero, netting twice late on to secure a 2-0 victory.

The Portuguese later showed his gratitude by gifting Afena-Gyan a pair of £670 Balenciaga trainers.

Over the years, Mourinho has handed plenty of wonderkids their debuts. Here's the best of the bunch.


When the Spain star was just 18, Mourinho gave Morata some needed experience in the first team.

He was introduced in the 88th minute, coming on for Angel Di Maria against Real Zaragoza.

However, Morata wouldn't make a first team start until two years later.

Now owned by Atletico Madrid, the 29-year-old is on loan at Juventus.


Well before he became Liverpool's midfield enforcer, Brazilian Fabinho was trying to make his name in LaLiga.

Mourinho brought the then 19-year-old on for Fabio Coentrao with just 14 minutes left to play against Malaga.

And he made an instant impression, setting up Angel Di Maria's goal in a 6-2 rout.

Now 28, he is a Champions League winner with the Reds.


Now featuring in the Chelsea line-up under Thomas Tuchel, it was Mourinho who was the first to have faith with the midfield dynamo at just 19.

In the 83rd minute of a Champions League tie against Sporting Lisbon, Loftus-Cheek, 25, was introduced to proceedings at the expense of Cesc Fabregas.

But Ruben would only make eight appearances under Jose, with his dad insisting the former Blues coach held his son's development back.

Fast-forward six years, and loans away at Crystal Palace and Fulham, he's even become an England international.


Another player who Tuchel has benefited from thanks to Jose is Danish centre back Christensen, 25.

He would play three times under Mourinho, making his debut in a League Cup win over Shrewsbury at 18.

However, he was in the side for the infamous 4-2 defeat to Bradford in the FA Cup.

Christensen also featured in the final game of the 2014-15 season, lifting the Premier League trophy in front of his own fans.


The Scottish midfielder, 24, left a lasting impression on Mourinho.

In 2017, when he was 20, McTominay came off the bench to make his bow against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium.

He would then make his first start on the final day of the 2016-17 season in a 2-0 win over Crystal Palace.

The following season, Mourinho would call McTominay the Manager's Player of the Season.


With a Champions League semi-final against Barcelona on the horizon, Mourinho chose to rest first-choice Marcelo for an untried 21-year-old Nacho Fernandez in a game against Valencia.

He featured again a week later, although Los Blancos fell 3-2 at home to Real Zaragoza.

Nacho wouldn't feature in LaLiga for nearly two years, till he replaced Alvaro Arbeloa in the closing stages against, ironically, Zaragoza.

Since then, the 31-year-old has gone to become a Real Madrid legend – appearing over 240 times for the club and winning the Champions League four times.


Sarabia is a product of Real Madrid's youth academy, La Fabrica.

At 18, he high-fived none-other-than Cristiano Ronaldo to make his way onto the pitch during a Champions League match against Auxerre.

However, Mourinho clearly wasn't convinced by Sarabia and shipped him off to Getafe.

The Spanish winger, 29, is now owned by PSG – but playing at Sportin Lisbon.


The Russian forward, 30, was a star of Real Madrid's B team.

But he had to wait till 2015 until making his debut for the club – playing 13 minutes in a 1-0 defeat of Granada.

Before that, he had enjoyed a loan spell at Villarreal, where he showed real promise.

In 2016, the Yellow Submarine made the deal permanent. But since 2019, Cheryshev has plied his trade at Valencia.


Leeds United have profited quite beautifully from a Mourinho debut boy.

Llorente, 28, has impressed at Elland Road, albeit his progress has been halted by injuries since arriving in 2020.

It was all the way back in 2013, aged 20, he appeared against Osasuna in LaLiga.

However, it was Real Sociedad he would make his name when he left the Bernabeu in 2017.


Now showing his unbelievable promise at Bournemouth, who he has scored 16 goals in 20 games this season, Mourinho vowed he would blame himself if Solanke, 24, didn't get an England call-up under his management.

Ahead of the 2014-15 season, he had the forward training with his first team.

Mourinho would throw him on as a late sub against NK Maribor that campaign as an eager 18-year-old.

But chances were limited at the Bridge, and he moved to Liverpool in 2017 when his contract expired.


Technically, it was Mauricio Pochettino who gave Tanganga a run out in a League Cup tie.

But Mourinho gave the defender his first Premier League appearance when he started against eventual league winners Liverpool.

And the strict boss was delighted with his show.

"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 22-year-old has gone on to feature regularly for Spurs under Nuno Espirito Santo and Antonio Conte.

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