Lucas Vazquez has never played for Spain. Marcus Rashford is fresh from his England debut. Joshua Kimmich has only one Germany cap. They are all going to the European Championship next week.
Tuesday was the deadline for the 23-man squads to be submitted to Uefa, and a clutch of inexperienced but talented players were selected to represent some of the continent’s biggest teams.
One of the biggest surprises was Vazquez’s inclusion in the Spain squad. He scored a penalty in Real Madrid’s Champions League triumph last Saturday, and was picked ahead of more established club teammate Francisco “Isco” Alarcon.
Both are 24, and Vazquez’s international debut could come in France where Spain is chasing its third successive European title.
“It is a dream come true,” Vazquez tweeted.
Veteran strikers Diego Costa and Fernando Torres were dropped by coach Vicente del Bosque. But Hector Bellerin, the 21-year-old Arsenal defender, was unexpectedly included in the tournament squad for the first time. He only made his international debut on Sunday.
“Persistence and hard work always pays off,” Bellerin tweeted.
England has gambled with an even more talented player. Three months ago, the 18-year-old Rashford hadn’t even played a senior game in professional football. But after his premature graduation from the Manchester United academy to plug an injury gap in the first-team squad, Rashford flourished.
Eight goals and 17 appearances later, collecting an FA Cup winners’ medal on the way, Rashford’s case for inclusion in the Euro 2016 squad was more understandable.
He proved too good for Roy Hodgson to leave behind once he made his England debut on Friday – scoring inside three minutes against Australia.
Now he is among five attacking options including United teammate Wayne Rooney, the 30-year-old England captain.
Germany is also taking emerging talent in a bid to become world and European champions simultaneously.
Two midfielders – Kimmich of Bayern Munich and Julian Weigl of Dortmund – and Leverkusen goalkeeper Bernd Leno only made their debuts on Sunday in a loss to Slovakia. Yet, they were still included in the final squad, along with Schalke midfielder Leroy Sane, who has only three Germany caps.
Inexperience has also proved no barrier to defender Nico Elvedi and midfielder Denis Zakaria, both 19 and heading to France with the Switzerland squad.
France, meanwhile, had a setback as Lassana Diarra is out because of swelling in his left knee. The midfielder was replaced by Morgan Schneiderlin.
The flashiest squad announcement on Tuesday was in Rome as Italy selected eight players with no tournament experience.
All 23 squad members arrived in blue Fiat Pandas and they were presented on stage.