Trent Alexander-Arnold’s breakout season has now been capped off with him joining a small group of England internationals who have reached the highest levels at a tender age.
England and Belgium, having already locked up qualification to the last 16, made several changes to their starting XIs ahead of the Group G finale.
Alexander-Arnold was among those picked by England manager Gareth Southgate, and earned his first-ever World Cup start for the Three Lions in the process.
The start means the 19-year-old full-back has become just the fourth teenager to receive a start for England at the World Cup.
He joins Michael Owen in 1998, along with Luke Shaw and Raheem Sterling in 2014, in that exclusive club.
That also makes Alexander-Arnold the third player to earn that distinction coming off a season for Liverpool, following in the footsteps of Owen and Sterling.
While Alexander-Arnold is the youngest England player in the XI, he’s by no means alone as Southgate went with youth against Belgium – at least in comparison to other England sides.
The average age of the England side for the clash is 25 years and 207 days, which makes it the second youngest the Three Lions have ever started in a major tournament.
4 - Trent Alexander-Arnold (19 years, 264 days), is only the fourth teenager to start a World Cup match for England, after Luke Shaw, Raheem Sterling and Michael Owen. Youth. #ENG #ENGBEL #WorldCup pic.twitter.com/aPLVcaEdZp — OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 28, 2018
The England squad that started the 2002 World Cup match against Sweden, a 1-1 draw which featured a then 22-year-old Owen, remains the youngest the nation has fielded.
A victory would send this England squad through as group winners to a matchup against Japan in the round of 16, whereas a loss would see them face Colombia. A tie would see fair play decide who finishes first and who finishes second in Group G.