As we all know, the National League is a tough league to play in. Many of the players in the fifth tier are seasoned footballers who have played at many levels of the English game. However, the fifth tier also gives younger players a chance to shine for the first time.
Who are the youngest players to feature in England’s fifth tier, though?
Ryan Quinn (14 years, 08 months, and 24 days for Nuneaton Borough)
The youngest player to ever feature in the fifth tier is midfielder Ryan Quinn, who debuted for Nuneaton Borough in a 2-0 home defeat at the tender age of just 14 years, eight months and 24 days.
It is hard to source information on what happened next for Quinn. However, we know that the midfielder hasn’t had a club since March 2015.
Shane Temple (16 years, 02 months, and 18 days for Braintree Town)
Temple made his Braintree Town debut at the age of 16 years, two months and 18 days in a 4-2 home defeat against Bromley in March 2019. The young forward is currently with Basildon United, having also been at Sudbury and Witham Town.
Unfortunately, Temple has made just two appearances in the National League and one in the FA Cup in his career.
Jordan Thomas (16 years, 03 months, and 25 days for Lincoln City)
The forward made his National League debut for Lincoln City at the age of 16 years, three months and 25 days in a 1-1 home draw with Mansfield Town in October 2011.
Thomas later spent loan spells at Sheffield FC, Gainsborough and Spalding United before being released in July 2014. The forward’s five-minute debut proved to be his only appearance in the fifth tier.
Elliott Legg (16 years, 04 months, and 18 days for Hayes and Yeading FC)
The full-back made his National League bow for Hayes and Yeading FC in a thrilling 3-3 draw against Stockport County in 2011. Legg played just 56 minutes on his debut, and it was his only appearance in the National League. He joined Marlow in July 2019.
Josh Endall (16 years, 04 months and 28 days for Solihull Moors)
The centre-back appeared for Solihull Moors at the age of just 16 years, four months and 28 days in a 2-0 2017 home win over Eastleigh.
Endall has since become something of a journeyman, as he has played for the likes of Stafford Rangers, Banbury, Alvechurch, Hednesford and currently Bedworth United. His three-minute debut for Solihull was his only appearance in the fifth tier of the English game.
Jay Burgess (16 years, 05 months and 19 days for Macclesfield Town)
The forward made his National League in 2013 in a 4-1 win over Macclesfield Town at just 16 years, five months and 19 days. Burgess has also had spells at New Mills and Newcastle Town.
Burgess’s 55-minute debut was his only appearance in the fifth tier, like so many on this list. Burgess has not had a club since 2018, when Newcastle Town released him.
Tecane Shrowder (16 years, 05 months and 21 days for Wealdstone)
Shrowder made the first of only two National League appearances at the age of 16 years, five months and 21 days in a 4-0 defeat at Stockport County in May 2021. His two appearances in the fifth tier amounted to just two minutes.
In August 2021, Shrowder made a loan move to Kings Langley. Still just 18 years old, the youngster could still make it as a player in the fifth tier.
Mathew Stevens (16 years, 06 months, and 25 days for Barnet)
Forward Stevens made his maiden National League appearance for Barnet in September 2014. His first appearance came in a 2-1 win over Alfreton Town at 16 years, six months and 25 days. His appearance lasted just eight minutes and was his only appearance at fifth-tier level.
However, Stevens has enjoyed a long career despite still only being in his mid-twenties. In fact, he has made 127 appearances in League Two, nine appearances in League One and ten appearances in the Irish Premier Division with Sligo Rovers. Stevens is currently with League Two Forest Green.
Jayden Wareham (16 years, 07 months, and 19 days for Woking)
The forward made his National League debut for Woking at the age of 16 years, 7 months and 19 days in a 6-2 defeat against Sutton United in January 2020. The forward has made 17 games in the fifth tier and five appearances in League Two.
Wareham is currently with Reading after spending time with Chelsea under-21’s.
Rob Salathiel (16 years, 08 months and 02 days for Wrexham)
In April 2011, Salathiel made his Wrexham debut in the National League at 16 years, 8 months and 2 days in a 1-1 draw at Luton Town. The seven-minute cameo was Salathiel’s only appearance in the fifth tier, and he was released the following summer.
He didn’t appear for any other clubs.