How Leeds United's Peter Lorimer proved himself to be 'full of promise' on landmark 1962 debut - Bygones
Nwaneri was 15 years and 181 days old when he made his landmark appearance, but 60 years ago this week Peter Lorimer was also 15 when he debuted for Leeds United - and in the era before substitutes, his was a full 90-minute shift.
If Nwaneri's milestone was widely celebrated, there was a bit of nervousness about Lorimer's - set in a Second Division home game against Southampton on September 28, 1962. It remains an Elland Road record, but the Scot with the rocket shot would become far more than a tricky pub quiz question.
The significance was not lost on The Yorkshire Evening Post, who called an XI also featuring teenagers Gary Sprake, Paul Reaney, Mike Addy and Norman Hunter "the most breath-taking side they have ever (picked)... It ranges from £53,000 globally-known John Charles to a 15-year-old amateur on debut."
Writer Phil Brown could not hide his misgivings, asking on the day of the game: "Is Don Revie hurling his youngsters too quickly into League football?"
Lorimer, a printer's apprentice, was 15 years and 289 days old and Brown wrote that his selection "inevitably brings the question, which was hovering in the wake of the debuts of Gary Sprake (17), Paul Reaney (17), Rodney Johnson (17) and Norman Hunter (18)" - whether manager Revie was exposing his youngsters too soon to professional football.
History would prove him partly right but mainly wrong. Centre-forward Johnson would make only 30 appearances for his hometown club over six seasons, but Sprake, Reaney, Hunter and Lorimer became integral parts of Leeds' greatest team, with Lorimer still United's all-time top-scorer. It would be two seasons, though, before he followed up his debut.
Even when he became England's youngest peace-time league footballer, Lorimer's talents were not unknown. Revie famously picked up a speeding ticket driving to Dundee to sign him in May 1962 after he caught the eye with Scotland Schoolboys, Stobswell Boys and Broughty YMCA. The YEP claimed 28 league clubs including Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur had been keen for him to join them.
The trouble with teenage debutants - as Brown was clearly aware - is they often do not fulfill their potential.
Albert Geldard, the Bradford (Park Avenue) winger Lorimer knocked out of the record books, played for England as a teenager in 1933, but only added three more caps despite playing until he was 33.
The League record is now held by Huddersfield-born Reuben Courtney Noble-Lazarus, 15 years and 45 days old when he came off the bench for Barnsley in September 2008. He was released by Halifax Town in 2021.
Harvey Elliot, whose Premier League record Nwaneri broke, is threatening a good career at Liverpool but third-placed Matthew Briggs plays for Gosport Borough and Izzy Brown is without a club having had loans at Rotherham United, Huddersfield Town, Leeds and Sheffield Wednesday. James Vaughan, the Premier League's youngest goalscorer, slipped down the leagues, captaining Bradford City, and Daniel Jebbison, the youngest to score on his debut, is still to establish himself at Sheffield United two-and-a-half years later.
But although Lorimer's second senior appearance was a long time coming, he did not disgrace himself in his first.
Reporting on the 1-1 draw, Brown watched "young Lorimer being obviously still coltish but full of promise and (having) nothing to regret about his debut." His colleague on the Yorkshire Post, Richard Ulyatt concluded "Lorimer had done all that was expected of him."
He was picked in the No 7 shirt which would become his trademark but had to move from the right wing so Leeds could hide Jack Charlton. The centre-back was moved to centre-forward, then Lorimer's position "and occasionally to inside right" after suffering double vision in the first half.
Leeds were trailing to a David Burnside shot after half an hour which deflected in off captain Cliff Mason before John Charles moved back from the forward line to steady the ship. Jim Storrie earned the hosts a point.
Once Lorimer established himself, though, he made it count.
His first two goals came four days apart in September 1965, by which time he was 18 and Leeds were about to go top of the First Division.
The Evening Post said his maiden goal "crowned one of United's best-ever passing movements," describing how Lorimer "hit the back of the net with a tremendous volley from close in. A champagne goal".
The following Wednesday "on a pitch saturated eight hours earlier by heavy rain," he was at it again, his reputation already starting to solidify in the mud.
"Lorimer, who again moved like a natural footballer of great promise got the second, taking his chance with rare aplomb," Eric Stanger wrote from White Hart Lane in The Yorkshire Post.
Brown mentioned in passing how "Lorimer showed his whiplash shot off". It would be his signature.
Three years after his debut, the boy had become a man, scoring 19 goals that season and never less than double figures until 1976-77, the penultimate full campaign of his first Elland Road spell.
After playing for York City amongst others, Lorimer returned in 1983 to help nurse the ailing club, playing on until just before his 40th birthday.
In a remarkable career, Lorimer managed to be both young buck and old stager. Brown need never have worried.