Tottenham’s interim head coach Ryan Mason will become the youngest man to lead a team in a Premier League game when Spurs face Southampton on Wednesday.
Here, the PA news agency takes a look at the top five on the list and how their careers panned out.
Ryan Mason, Tottenham, 2021
29 years, 10 months
The former Spurs midfielder was forced into early retirement as a player after failing to sufficiently recover from a fractured skull suffered while playing for Hull in January 2017, and eventually settled into a role as the north London club’s academy coach and then head of player development. Spurs, five points below the Champions League places and with the small matter of a Carabao Cup final on Sunday, are not in a situation where he will be left to simply blood his young players but the likes of Alfie Devine and Dane Scarlett may be eyeing up an opportunity.
Attilio Lombardo, Crystal Palace, 1998
32 years, two months
The Italian, who took caretaker charge of Palace for the final stages of their 1997-98 relegation season, holds the record Mason will break on Wednesday. Despite starring as a player for the Eagles, Lombardo was unable to rescue them as a manager and his subsequent managerial experience has come below Europe’s top-flight leagues – with FC Chiasso in Switzerland and Italian sides Castelnuovo, Legnano and Spezia – and as an assistant, including to Roberto Mancini with Manchester City, Galatasaray and Italy. His own assistant and interpreter at Palace, team-mate Tomas Brolin, was just 28 at the time but Lombardo’s top billing leaves Mason as the league’s first under-30 manager.
Chris Coleman, Fulham, 2003
32 years, 10 months
Initially appointed as a caretaker before a month later becoming the Premier League’s youngest permanent manager, the Welshman kept Fulham in the top flight and led them to a surprise ninth-placed finish the following season, before being sacked in 2007 amid a relegation battle. He had difficult spells abroad with Real Sociedad and Greek side AEL and in the Championship with Coventry but proved his mettle by leading Wales to the Euro 2016 semi-finals and to an all-time high of eighth in the FIFA rankings. He was unable to replicate that magic with Sunderland or Hebei China Fortune, however.
Gianluca Vialli, Chelsea, 1998
33 years, seven months
Briefly holding the record until compatriot Lombardo took the Palace reins, Vialli was the latest in a run of ever younger player-managers for the Blues, following a 35-year-old Glenn Hoddle and 33-year-old Ruud Gullit and taking over from the Dutchman in February 1998. He put the finishing touches to a trophy double in the League Cup and Cup Winners’ Cup and added the FA Cup in 2000, along with a European Super Cup and a Charity Shield and fourth, third and fifth-placed league finishes, but was sacked early in 2000-01 before a disappointing season in charge of Watford.
Andre Villas-Boas, Chelsea, 2011
33 years, nine months
Billed as Chelsea’s new Jose Mourinho after making the same journey from Porto, having taken Vialli’s record as the youngest manager to win a UEFA competition with Europa League success in 2011, he failed to emulate his countryman’s impact – indeed, he was sacked quickly enough for his later appointment at Tottenham to rank 10th on this list. In an eccentric career in which he never played professionally, he moved on to Zenit St Petersburg and Shanghai SIPG before taking time away from football to compete in the Dakar Rally. He returned with Marseille in 2019 but was suspended by the club in February this year after publicly criticising their signing of Olivier Ntcham from Celtic.