Friday, 30 June 2017

Stars of the U-17 World Cup over the years

The 2017 FIFA Under-17 World Cup in India begins in exactly 100 days, and is the biggest platform for young players to make themselves heard.
Several players who first made a mark in the Under-17 World Cup went on enjoy illustrious careers in the sport, winning the biggest trophies and accolades for club and country. Here are 11 of the best.
Where he began:
The 1997 Under-17 World Cup in Egypt, with Spain running out 3-2 winners against Mexico.

Xavi did not lift the Under-17 World Cup that year, but he would compensate by only becoming one of the most decorated players in the history of the game -- the heartbeat of the Spain and Barcelona teams that dominated club and international football for several years.
An embodiment of the Tiki-Taka style of play, Xavi widely became renowned as the game's most incisive passer, and finished third in the FIFA Ballon D'or in three consecutive years, between 2009 and 2011. He would end his career with eight La Liga titles, four Champions Leagues, two European Championships, and the FIFA World Cup.

Where he began:
A 2-1 victory against Oman in the 2001 Under-17 World Cup in Trinidad & Tobago.

Torres started his club career at Atletico Madrid and earned a reputation as one of the most lethal finishers in Europe. It earned him a 2007 transfer to Liverpool, where he scored 81 goals in just 142 games. A record-breaking $50 million move to Chelsea materialised in 2011, and though Torres blew hot and cold during his time in London, he would pick up the biggest club trophy in 2012: the Champions League.
Torres also enjoyed a stellar international career, scoring the winner in the 2008 European Championships final against Germany, as well as in a 4-0 rout of Italy in the 2012 final. In 2008, he finished in third place in the Ballon D'Or, behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

Where he began:
The 1997 Under-17 World Cup in Egypt, with Ronaldinho scoring in a 7-0 thrashing of Austria.
One of the hottest prospects in world football ever since being a teenager, Ronaldinho played a key role in Brazil's World Cup win in 2002. His undisputed talent and dribbling skills attracted the attention of Barcelona in 2003, where he cemented his place as one of the best players in the world. He was named FIFA World Player of the Year in both 2004 as well as 2005, picking up a host of other individual and team honours along the way, including a Champions League winner's medal in 2006.

Where he began:
The 1993 Under-17 World Cup in Japan, scoring Italy's only goal of the tournament in a 2-1 defeat to Mexico.

Totti spent his entire career at AS Roma, becoming the club's most capped player and top goal scorer. Renowned for his vision and playmaking ability, Totti aged like fine wine, playing an important role in Italy's World Cup triumph in 2006, eventually named in the official team of the tournament. With 316 goals, he is the fifth-highest Italian scorer in all competitions, and won the European Golden Shoe award in 2007.

Where he began:
Like Totti, Buffon was part of Italy's squad for the Under-17 World Cup in Japan.
Widely considered to be one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time, Buffon became Italy's most-capped player, the fifth-most capped male international player, and the most capped European international player ever. He holds the record for the longest streak without conceding a goal in Serie A history, going 974 minutes without letting in a goal for Juventus in 2015-16.
Buffon's greatest moment came in Italian colours in the 2006 World Cup, as he produced 40 saves and conceded just two goals through the tournament in Germany, eventually helping his team beat France on penalties in the final. He finished second in the 2006 Ballon D'Or, behind his captain Fabio Cannavarro.

Where he began:
The 1997 Under-17 World Cup in Egypt, where he was the youngest player in the Spain squad which finished third.

Where he began:
The 2009 Under-17 World Cup in Nigeria, scoring in Brazil's 3-2 win against Japan in the opening game.

Where he began:
The 2001 Under-17 World Cup in Trinidad & Tobago, where he scored two goals for Argentina.

Tevez's pace and work-rate quickly caught the eye of several big clubs, including Manchester United, who signed him in 2007. Tevez chipped in with plenty of key goals, helping the team win two consecutive Premier League titles, and also the Champions League in 2008. Since leaving United, Tevez has also won league and cup titles with Manchester City and Juventus.
He played in two World Cups for Argentina, and was part of the squad that nabbed the gold medal during the 2004 Olympics in Greece.

Where he began:
The 2003 Under-17 World Cup in Finland, where he finished as the top scorer with five goals, despite playing in midfield.
Fabregas established himself in Arsenal's starting XI in the 2004-05 season, and quickly became one of the league's best playmakers with his vision and incisive passing. In 2008, he was named the PFA Young Player of the Year. After leaving Arsenal in 2011, he went on to win league titles with both Barcelona and Chelsea.
Despite a tough competition for places, Fabregas also regularly features for Spain, and provided the assist for Andres Iniesta's winner in the 2010 World Cup final.

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