A platform for young talent

Many superstars first announced their arrival at the U-17 World Cup

A platform for young talent
The FIFA U-17 World Cup is a platform where a young footballer gets a chance to showcase his skill on the global stage.In the 17th edition of the event, there are plenty of players aspiring to make it big.

But before we get ahead of time and talk about the ‘superstars in making’, here’s a look at the big names who took their first steps towards dizzying heights of fame in this global event.

Luis Figo (Portugal)

One of the greatest players’ Portugal has produced, Figo first came into the limelight when he led the Portuguese side at the 1989 FIFA U-16 World Championship (tournament was later changed to U-17 World Cup in 2007).

Figo scored two goals in six matches as Portugal went on to finish third, losing to hosts Scotland in the semifinal.

Later, Figo led Portugal’s golden generation to a fourth place finish at the 2006 World Cup and runners-up at Euro 2004. A Galactico at Real Madrid, Figo is one of the few players to play for both Madrid and Barcelona.

Alessandro del Piero (Ita)

A player who tormented the opposition defence with his nimble footwork and precise shooting skills, Del Piero was a mainstay in the Italian setup for over a decade.

But before he became a household name at Juventus (scoring 208 goals in 513 appearances) and in Italy, Del Piero first showed glimpses of his talent at the 1991 event hosted by Italy.

The Italians might have bowed out in the group stage, but a young Del Piero had done enough for the footballing eyes to take notice of his talent.

Ronaldinho (Brazil)

He is one player who needs no introduction. His name would send opponents into a tizzy. The Brazilian was a joy to watch, playing for his national team or at AC Milan or in Spain.

Ronaldinho played all the seven games in the 1997 tournament in Egypt, tearing defences apart every time he had the ball on his feet. He went on to lift the title with Brazil, beating Ghana 2-1 in the final.

This tournament also saw Spain’s Iker Casillas and Xavi Hernandez in action at a global stage for the first time.

After his exploits at the U-17 World Cup, Paris Saint-Germain came calling for Ronaldinho. He moved to Spain with Barcelona in 2003. He won five La Liga titles, along with a Ballon d’Or and two FIFA World Player of the Year awards.

The highlight of his career came when his team won the 2002 World Cup co-hosted by Japan and South Korea. His free-kick goal against England was one of the highlights of the tournament.

Toni Kroos (Germany)

Cristiano Ronaldo might be the star at Real Madrid, but a closer look at the way Zinedine Zidane’s side plays, one would realise the importance of Toni Kroos. In a team filled with superstars, it is this German who is the conductor in the midfield.

Kroos had taken the footballing world by storm at the 2007 U-17 World Cup in South Korea. He won the golden ball, scoring five goals in six games as Germany finished third, losing to eventual winners Nigeria in the semifinal.

They beat Ghana in the 3/4th place play-off.

Neymar Jr (Brazil)

The costliest player in the world, the 2009 U-17 World Cup in Nigeria was his first date with fame.

Though the Samba Boys didn’t last long in the tournament, bowing out in the group stage after finishing third behind Switzerland and Mexico, the Sao Paulo player impressed with his dribbling and finishing abilities.

DH Newsletter Privacy Policy Get top news in your inbox daily
GET IT
Comments (+)