After a stunning league campaign that saw Derby County Under-18s end the season as Champions of England, Justin Walker’s side earned qualification for the 2019/20 UEFA Youth League.
The Rams will enter the tournament for the first time since its foundation in 2013, with Justin Walker set to lead his side into the Under-19 equivalent of the UEFA Champions League.
So, how does it all work?
Founded ahead of the 2013/14 season, the roots of the Youth League can be traced back to 2010, when Champions League finalists Bayern Munich and Inter Milan faced eachother at Under-18 level, three days before the senior final in Madrid.
Barcelona won the inaugural competition by beating Benfica 3-0 in the final.
Assistant Manager Jody Morris is well acquainted with the tournament, having been a key member of staff as Chelsea won back-to-back titles in 2015 and 2016.
Fikayo Tomori picked up a winners’ medal on both occasions, also scoring the opening goal against PSG in the 2016 final, with Mason Mount appearing as a substitute in that game.
Porto are the current holders, after they beat Chelsea 3-1 in the final on 29th April.
2016/17: RB Salzburg
2013/14: Munir (11)
2014/15: Dominic Solanke (12)
2015/16: Roberto (9)
2016/17: Jordi Mboula, Kaj Sierhuis (both 8)
2017/18: Ivan Ignatyev (10)
2018/19: Charlie Brown (12)
In 2013/14 and 2014/15, the tournament followed the same format as the Champions League, except with single-leg ties from the Round of 16 onwards, while qualification was based on performance at senior level.
From the 2015/16 campaign onwards, the Domestic Champions path ensured that clubs were rewarded for their performance at youth level during the previous season.
That path includes two rounds of two-legged ties, before the eight winners face the eight second-placed sides from the Group Stage, with the winners going through to the Round of 16.
There are no seedings in the knock-out phase draw, although teams from the same association or same group cannot face eachother.
Single leg ties are played from the Round of 16 onwards, before the semi-finals and final take place in Nyon, Switzerland.
Will Derby enter the Group Stage?
In a word, no.
As Champions of England at Under-18 level, Derby will enter the competition through the Domestic Champions path, as opposed to the UEFA Champions League path, where clubs qualify for the Group Stage based on performance at senior level.
The Rams are one of 32 entrants to the Youth League via this path, and these 32 teams will be split into four groups ahead of the draw for the first round, based on various sporting and geographical criteria.
Should Derby progress through the first and second round in two-legged ties, they will then face a runner-up from the Group Stage in the single-leg play-off, to decide who goes through to the Round of 16.
Who could Derby face?
Clubs that have qualified for the Domestic Champions path at the time of writing include the likes of: Real Zaragoza, Porto, Slavia Prague, Dinamo Zagreb and Rangers.
Should Derby progress to the Round of 16, they could then face any of the sides that qualified as a result of the performance of their senior team, including: Barcelona, Real Madrid, Juventus, Inter Milan, Bayern Munich and PSG.