Lamine Yamal has done it - he is the best 16-year-old to ever play football

  • Spain reach Euro 2024 final thanks to exploits of Lamine Yamal
  • 16-year-old scored incredible goal in 2-1 win against France
  • Yamal will go down as football's best-ever 16-year-old
The prince is a king
The prince is a king / Stu Forster/GettyImages

For the final time as a 16-year-old, Lamine Yamal left the world in awe.

Spain are into the final of Euro 2024 against the odds, and they have their teenage talent to thank for it.

Now the youngest scorer in the history of the European Championships, Yamal put in a performance that legendary players twice his age would have been proud of.

By the time Sunday's final kicks off, Yamal will have turned 17. He gave us one last outrageous 16-year-old display to enjoy.

La Roja must have feared the worst when France went ahead early on through Randal Kolo Muani, but that lead evaporated 12 minutes after it came into existence.

Fear not for Spain, their boy wonder was here. In the Allianz Arena where the great Arjen Robben scored so, so many left-footed beauties, Yamal came up with a goal befitting of that balding, brilliant Dutchman.

25 yards from goal. Adrien Rabiot, who had teased Yamal about his progress and the next step of his development pre-match, fittingly blocking his view of goal. A little shimmy and drop of the shoulder gave Yamal enough separation to get the shot away. And what a shot it was.

Lamine Yamal
Worth a thousand words and a billion euros / James Gill - Danehouse/GettyImages

Up and down, over and out. Up over and down out of the reach of a helpless Mike Maignan, the defining goalkeeper of Euro 2024 so far.

Yamal's picture-book fairytale had a new chapter, even if it rehashed a similarly old one, this goal almost identical to one he scored this time last year for Spain's Under-17s against - of all teams - France.

Bang. Spain were level, France were breached, and the momentum had shifted. It wasn't too surprising when Dani Olmo lashed La Roja ahead soon after. At the flip of a switch, Spain now looked the streetwise, savvy side. Didier Deschamps and his men lost their footing on the ledge and couldn't slow down their fall after it had started.

For all of the talent Les Bleus boasted, they couldn't carve out a clear sight of goal for the rest of the game. Instead, Spain slowed it down. Not quite to the monotonous levels of their great 2008-2012 teams, but enough to remove the sting and dampen the atmosphere.

Veterans like Rodri and Alvaro Morata led by example with their relaxed mannerisms - they had been there and done that at club level. But Yamal came of age too. A cynical foul to stop Theo Hernandez breaking away. Playing the ball off of France legs to earn a throw-in. Accelerating and decelerating on the ball, just to threaten the French that little bit, but winding the clock down ever so.

Full-time. Spain victorious, France checkmated, Yamal on the shoulders of giants.

All hail Yamal / FRANCK FIFE/GettyImages

Yamal will now go down as the greatest 16-year-old to ever play football. The only person in the same stratosphere is Pele, but none of the other legends of the game - not Lionel Messi, not Cristiano Ronaldo - came close to what Yamal has already achieved at his age.

Perhaps the main pressure on Yamal is he now has to live up to this expectation for the rest of his career. He's just ended year one - the best year one in football has ever seen.

But we will remember his braces long after they are removed, we will remember the jokes about homework and curfew, and at least in the UK, we will remember the parallels to Luke Littler.

We will simply remember this version of Yamal, whoever he becomes. Thank you for the thrills.