Thanks to his success offering Real the Champions League, the Brazilian became the fifth youngest goalscorer in Paris on Saturday in a C1 final.
The 14th win for Real Madrid in the Champions League bears the Thibaut Courtois mark. More than perfect for 90 minutes, Belgian goalkeeper Mohamed Salah et Cie was disgusted only to be logically named man of this 2022 final by UEFA. But to win a match, you also need to score at least one goal. A task Vinicius Junior took on with skill and expediency. Even if he wasn’t transcendent, on Saturday at the Stade de France the Brazilian – like his attacking friend Karim Benzema – was able to leave his mark on this success. A success that also allows him to enter the closed circle of the five youngest goalscorers in a Champions League final. But who are the other four?
1. Patrick Kluivert (18 years and 327 days) Pure product of the Ajax Amsterdam formation, Patrick Kluivert starts this final on 24 May 1995 against AC Milan, in Vienna, on the bench. The two teams were unable to decide between themselves and Louis van Gaal tried the Kluivert card in the 70th minute. A great intuition as the one who was then only a very young promising striker scored the only goal of the meeting fifteen minutes later to offer his club its fourth C1. The first since the three won in the early 1970s.
2. Carlos Alberto (19 years and 167 days) Being a very young goalscorer at a big event does not guarantee a great career afterwards. On May 26, 2004, Brazilian attacking midfielder Carlos Alberto opened the scoring in Porto’s 3-0 win against Monaco in Gelsenkirchen. With a certain José Mourinho on the Portuguese bench. After this coup, Carlos Alberto’s career will no longer have the same relief. With the exception of a stint at Werder Bremen between 2007 and 2009, his career will be limited to several Brazilian clubs.
3. Lars Ricken (20 years and 322 days) On 28 May 1997, Borussia Dortmund was already leading 2-1 against Juventus in Munich when Ottmar Hitzfeld decided to throw Lars Ricken in the deep end for Stéphane Chapuisat. Barely on the pitch, the young German scores a lavish goal that seals the final score and gives Borussia its first and still only Champions League victory.
4. Marco Asensio (21 years and 133 days) It would have been very surprising not to find Real Madrid players in this gallery. An honor that first goes to Marco Asensio. The Spanish winger scored the last minute goal of the final 4-1 against Juventus in Cardiff on 3 June 2017. A success that gives Real the twelfth European title and the second in a row for Zinedine Zidane on the merengue bank. Note that Asensio was still present against Liverpool on Saturday but did not appear in the game.
5. Vinicius Junior (21 years and 320 days) Last Saturday in Paris, Vinicius Junior not only scored the only goal of Madrid’s success against Liverpool, but he also became the fifth youngest goalscorer in a Champions League final on the occasion.
However, all was not easy for this immense and precocious talent. Vinicius, who was transferred from Flamengo to Real Madrid in May 2017 at the age of 16 for 45 million euros, only joined Spain a year later. His beginnings at Casa Blanca were difficult. He was subsequently criticized for thinking more about fashion and Madrid’s nightlife than about football.
A little more maturity and incarceration will have beneficial effects on his career. Vinicius first decides to hire a personal physical trainer who follows him during and after the group sessions. With promising results encouraging him to gradually strengthen a personal team that today numbers more than thirty people between physiotherapists, a cook who prepares balanced meals for him, a social media manager, etc.
The Merit of Ancelotti
The rest, as he admits, is largely due to Carlo Ancelotti: “He immediately gave me a lot of responsibility and confidence,” Vinicius explains on UEFA’s website. I felt from the first day that he was counting on me a lot.” A small boost that was amply rewarded on Saturday with this 14th victory in the Champions League, the fourth already for the Italian technician, double winner with Real and AC Milan.