Andy Mitten looks at five players who have gone on to enjoy successful careers after starring at Fifa Under 17 World Cup tournaments.
Five players who starred at U17 World Cups and went on to enjoy success
Barcelona and Real Madrid had already tried to sign Neymar by the time he played for Brazil in the 2009 U17 World Cup in Nigeria. He was already a regular with his club, Santos. A sensational goal against Japan led to “next Pele” descriptions, though Brazil did not finish in the top four
Along with Cesc Fabregas, Silva is the Spanish player who has had the most success from the 2003 team, though he had a mixed tournament. He was on the bench for the first game, scored three goals in the second, was sent off in the third, was banned for the fourth and fifth and played in the final defeat to Brazil.
Fabregas was the star of the 2003 tournament, but the Argentina defender Garay also shone. Fifa’s official report praised their “excellently organised defence”. Garay won the Fifa U20 World Cup, then played for Newell’s Old Boys, Racing Santander, Real Madrid and Benfica.
The Brazilian, who would go onto become the world’s best player, was a star of the 1997 tournament in Egypt, playing in all seven wins, including the final as they beat Ghana 2-1 in front of 35,000 in Cairo. None of his teammates came close to his success, though winger Giovanni played for Barcelona and Manchester City.
Bayern Munich’s midfielder won the Golden Ball in the 2007 tournament, scoring seven goals for third-placed Germany in South Korea. A month later, he became Bayern’s youngest-ever player. When Bayern coach Pep Guardiola said last week that injuries had left him with “only Toni Kroos”, it was not such a big problem. Kroos, 23, already has played 38 times for the full national side.