On this day: Cesc Fabregas among Arsenal debutants

Eleven years ago today, Cesc Fabregas made his Arsenal debut during a League Cup tie against Rotherham United.

Throughout his time in charge of Arsenal, manager Arsene Wenger has had no hesitation in giving youngsters their senior debuts in League Cup ties.

It was back on this day in 2003, when Rotherham United visited Highbury in the third round of the competition, that Justin Hoyte, Jerome Thomas, Gael Clichy, Graham Stack and Ryan Smith all made their first ever appearances for the Gunners.

However, that quintet of young hopefuls were overshadowed by the maiden sighting in Arsenal colours of Cesc Fabregas, who became the club's youngest ever player at the tender age of just 16 years and 177 days.

It took Arsenal's teenagers just 11 minutes to break the deadlock, although they did have a helping hand from the team's more senior players. Sylvain Wiltord and Kanu linked well to create an opening for Jeremie Aliadiere and the 20-year-old French striker rolled the ball into the net from close range.

That goal appeared to be enough to see the hosts advance through to the next round, but with 35 seconds of normal time remaining, former Aston Villa frontman Darren Byfield forced extra time when he powered in Chris Sedgewick's cross.

There was further drama during the added 30 minutes when Rotherham goalkeeper Mike Pollitt was red-carded for deliberate handball outside of the area, with substitute keeper Gary Montgomery then going on to pull off a smart stop to deny Wiltord a winning goal.

As a result, penalties were required to determine a victor and after early misses from Wiltord and Rotherham's John Mullin, the teams traded successful kicks until Chris Swailes saw his effort stopped by Stack. Up stepped Wiltord again and he made no mistake to secure a 9-8 win for the Premier League side.

ARSENAL: Stack; Tavlaridis, Clichy, Cygan, Hoyte (Spicer); Fabregas (Owusu-Abeyie), Edu, Thomas (Smith), Wiltord; Aliadiere, Kanu

ROTHERHAM: Pollitt; S Barker, Swailes, McIntosh, R Barker; Sedgwick (Montgomery), Robinson (Mullin), Talbot (Baudet), Hurst; Byfield, Warne

Julio Baptista of Arsenal is challenged by Didier Zokora of Tottenham during the Carling Cup Semi Final 1st leg match on January 24, 2007
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