Onur Cinel's boys ended an extremely successful UEFA Youth League group stage campaign with a 4-2 statement win over youth football powerhouse Benfica on Tuesday. The success saw us make a further mark in the history books - with more than a few observers remarking the performance was the best so far from our boys. Zeteny Jano and Co were one of only four teams to finish the group stage unbeaten - along with Real Madrid, Braga and Manchester City. The 14 points that our side took against Benfica, Inter Milan and Real Sociedad is a club record!
Our previous best of 12 points came in 2021/22, when the likes of Samson Baidoo, Dijon Kameri and Roko Simic finished top of Group G ahead of Sevilla and ended up making the Youth League final. That trio have all progressed within two years to become UEFA Champions League players who showcase our club's ability to develop major talents.
Our development in the current season has also been noteworthy. Having begun the campaign with a 1-1 draw in Portugal our youngsters rocketed up the momentum with a high-scoring win against La Real in the Salzburg Academy and a narrow win with ten men in Milan as well as another point against Inter along with a great away win in the Basque country. A proud Cinel said quite rightly on Tuesday that: "To be confirmed as winners of this incredibly tough group one match before the end and remain unbeaten is actually quite incredible."
The European journey continues in the spring. First comes the draw on 9 February in Nyon, then the last 16 on 27/28 February. One thing is for sure - this won't be the last step our youngsters take in their career - as Samson, Dijon and Roko have shown!