As the Euro 2024 group phase came to an end on Wednesday and the remaining 16 sides prepare for the knockouts, the tournament has so far provided a platform for the rising stars of the game to showcase their talents with all of Europe watching. Mid-Day looks at five players aged 21 and under who have shone during the Euro 2024 group stage.

Nico Williams (Spain)

Spain`s group-stage performances have rocketed the three-time winners to hot favourites to win the tournament — and nobody has impressed more than 21-year-old Nico Williams. Williams turns 22 on July 12, just two days before the Euro 2024 final in Berlin. Fresh from helping boyhood side Athletic Bilbao to the Copa del Rey trophy, their first silverware for 40 years, Williams has shown he belongs on the international stage as part of an impressive Spain outfit. The winger was a constant attacking threat for the Spaniards, particularly in the 1-0 win over Italy where he was named player of the match. Entering the dressing room after the Italy match, Williams was personally congratulated by the Spanish King, later telling the media: “I`ve dreamed of moments like this all my childhood.”

Jamal Musiala (Germany)

Jamal Musiala, 21, has been the hosts` most effective attacking force so far at Euro 2024, scoring a goal in each of the first two games as Germany won Group A. The only shining light as Germany were eliminated at the group stage of the 2022 World Cup, two years later Musiala is becoming the complete package and has added goalscoring to his creative attacking game. At this Euros, Musiala has put an inconsistent season with Bayern Munich behind him and linked well with fellow 21-year-old Florian Wirtz despite the two playing similar roles for their respective clubs. After a man-of-the-match performance in the 5-1 demolition of Scotland in the tournament opener, Musiala was asked if he had just played the best match of his young career. “You could say that, yes,” the Germany-born, England-raised midfielder said, laying down a warning to the other teams at the tournament.

Jude Bellingham (England)

Despite being just 20 years of age, England midfielder Jude Bellingham has arguably become the central component of the Three Lions since his star turn at the 2022 World Cup. Scorer of the only goal in England`s only victory of the tournament so far, Bellingham came into Euro 2024 off the back of a La Liga and Champions League double with Real Madrid. Alongside Harry Kane and Phil Foden, Bellingham will be crucial to England`s fortunes should they shake off more than half a century of heartbreak at major tournaments.

Also Read: England tops group at Euro 2024 and Slovenia also advances after 0-0 draw

Arda Guler (Turkey)

Arda Guler, 19, has picked up where he left off domestically at the Euros, having finished the La Liga season in excellent form with Real Madrid, scoring five goals in his last five league fixtures. With the scores locked at 1-1 in Turkey`s opener against Georgia, Guler scored a long-range screamer that is already a contender for goal of the tournament. At 19 years, 114 days, Guler became the youngest player to score on their Euros debut — breaking the record of Cristiano Ronaldo. Guler was not yet born when Ronaldo, now 39, set the record, a fitting tribute given the Portuguese superstar is likely playing his last Euros before handing the baton to the new generation.

Lamine Yamal (Spain)

Barcelona winger Lamine Yamal became the youngest Euros player ever when making his debut in Spain`s 3-0 win over Croatia, aged 16 years and 338 days. Yamal also became the youngest player to lay on a Euros assist in that match and impressed against Italy, before starting from the bench versus Albania as Spain made it three wins from three matches in the group stages. Spain coach Luis de la Fuente said he was trying to ease the burden on the young star by restricting the minutes of the teenager “touched by God`s magic wand”. 

(With agency inputs)