Kolkata: With less than a week remaining for the commencement of the much awaited U-17 World Cup, most of the teams have already announced their squad for the gala event.
The U-17 World Cup is often considered to be a stepping stone for talented footballers. Scout representatives from all over the world keep an eye on these kinds of tournament and this year is not any different. Stars such as Jadon Sancho, Eric Ayiah, Abel Ruiz and Vinicius Junior are all tipped to make it big in their career. But, it remains to be seen if they can fulfill their potential in the upcoming World Cup.
Let’s take a look at those footballers who have been there and done it. Footballers who played in the U-17 World Cup and then went to make a successful career for themselves, even winning the senior World Cup during their times.
1. Ronaldinho Gaúcho –
One of the greatest ever sportspersons to grace the game of football and a Barcelona legend, the Brazilian is the only player in the history of football to win both the U-17 World Cup (1997) and the senior World Cup (2002).
He made his debut for the Brazil national team in the winning campaign of the 1997 U-17 World cup and scored his first goal in the 7-0 rout of Austria. He scored two goals in the tournament and was awarded the Bronze Ball, the first of many awards he would go on to achieve. He also won the Champions League with Barcelona in the 2005-06 season and is also a Ballon d’Or winner in 2005.
2.Gianluigi Buffon –
A FIFA World Cup winner with Italy in 2006, ‘Gigi’ as he is fondly called also started his career with U-17 national team, playing in the 1993 U-17 World Cup. Although Italy failed to reach the knockout stage after finishing behind Czechoslovakia and Poland in a group of three, signs of Buffon becoming a World class goalkeeper was evident during the tournament in Japan.
Buffon went to become a Juventus and a Itlay legend and is considered to be one of the best goalkeepers in the world. He has also won the Best European Goalkeeper award three times (2003,2016,2017) in his stellar career.
3. Xavi Hernandez –
A product of the famed La Masia Academy Xavi of Spain is considered to be one of the best midfield general of his generation. A 150 international matches veteran Xavi won the World Cup with Spain in 2010. But he had made his debut for the La Roja back in 1997 U-17 World Cup alongside future teammate Iker Casillas in Egypt.
From the very beginning of his career he was compared with the likes of Paul Scholes(another great English midfielder). He played for FC Barcelona club during his career and won numerous trophies which includes a record four Champions League trophies (2005-06, 2008-09, 2010-11, 2014-15). He also has the honour of coming third in the Ballon d’Or race thrice in his illustrious career.
4. Francesco Totti –
Another Italian who made his debut for the Azzurri national team in the 1993 U-17 World Cup along with future teammate Gianluigi Buffon. Totti scored the only goal for the team in the tournament.
He went on to win the 2006 World Cup with the Blues and played an instrumental role assisting more than others. Italy defeated France in the final. A part of the prestigious ‘FIFA 100’ Totti represented AS Roma in the Serie A, (the only club he played for) attaining Legendary status in 2017. He is a perfect example of loyalty as he continued playing for Roma, despite several 21 offers from Real Madrid, Chelsea and other top European clubs.
5. Iker Casillas –
Probably the greatest Spanish goalkeeper of all time Iker Casillas made his debut for the La Roja back in the 1997 U-17 World Cup. He Captained the Spanish National team to back to back Euros in 2008 and 2012 and also in the victorious World Cup campaign in 2010 also winning the Golden Glove.
Only the third goalkeeper to lead his nation to a World Cup victory, Casillas holds the record for most international clean sheets (74). He has also has three Champions League trophies (1999-2000, 2001-02, 2013-14) with his boyhood club Real Madrid and won the Best European Goalkeeper award in 2010.