Pogba, Mbappe among all 16 World Cup Best Young Player award winners
Qatar will host the 22nd Fifa World Cup over November and December, where an array of promising gems will challenge to become the 17th winner of the Best Young Player award.
Paris Saint-Germain superstar Kylian Mbappe was the last player to receive the gong first given at the 2006 World Cup in Germany. The France ace was also just the third teenager to take the title, having helped his nation to win the competition for only the second time.
Fifa formally introduced the Best Young Player award, which is handed out after a vote by fans, for the World Cup in 2006. But the governing body retrospectively acknowledged the standout players during each tournament held between 1958 and 2002 later on in 2009.
Players cannot be older than 21 years whilst featuring at the World Cup to be qualified for the award. Fifa’s Technical Study Group then selects the nominees, before it is then put to supporters to vote for online at the end of the tournament based on what they have given.
Global megastars Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo do not boast the Best Young Player at a World Cup award in their illustrious trophy cabinets. Messi made his tournament bow at the 2006 edition for Argentina aged 18, whilst Portugal icon Ronaldo debuted in 2006 at 21.
Barcelona and Spain wonderkid Gavi, 18, Arsenal and France centre-half William Saliba, 21, and Bayern Munich and Germany playmaker Jamal Musiala, 19, should be just a few of the promising gems who will compete for the Best Young Player award at the 2022 World Cup.
So, with that in mind, HITC Sport takes a look at all of the Best Young Player award winners during the past 16 World Cup tournaments where Fifa have recognised the brightest gem…
Fifa recognised Brazil great Pele as Best Young Player at the 1958 World Cup
Fifa recognised Brazil great Pele as the Best Young Player at the 1958 World Cup in Sweden when the governing body retrospectively gave out the gong. The forward was just 17 years old when he took the global stage by storm and help the Selecao win their first World Cup.
Brazil have gone on to become the most decorated nation in history with five World Cups, from Italy and Germany (4). But they owe a lot to Pele for helping seal their first when the Tres Coracoes native broke out the gates with six goals and one assist in four appearances.
Pele did not appear at the 1958 World Cup until the third match of Group 4 when Vicente Feola started the Santos product against the Soviet Union. Yet he took to the occasion and assisted before scoring against Wales, a hat-trick against France and two against Sweden.
Florian Albert of Hungary received 1962 World Cup Best Young Player award
Florian Albert of Hungary received the Best Young Player award for the 1962 World Cup in Chile after helping Magyarok reach the quarter-finals. At 20 years old, the striker found the back of the net on his competition debut to help beat England 2-1 in their first Group 4 tie.
A goal against the Three Lions was just the start for Albert, though, as he followed it with a hat-trick to smash Bulgaria 6-1. However, the group stage treble would prove to be his last goal at a World Cup finals after failing to find the back of the net at all at the 1966 edition.
Fifa named Franz Beckenbauer as Best Young Player at the 1966 World Cup
Fifa named Franz Beckenbauer as the Best Young Player at the 1966 World Cup in England after he helped Germany reach the final. The 103-cap icon played every minute across Die Mannschaft’s six matches as a holding midfielder, and he offered four goals along the way.
His efforts at 20 years old helped Germany beat Switzerland 5-0 in the group stage, before then scoring in a 4-0 quarter-final win over Uruguay and 2-1 semi-final win over the Soviet Union. But Beckenbauer would not help his nation avoid losing 4-2 in the final to England.
Peru’s attacking midfielder Teofilo Cubillas lit up 1970 World Cup in Mexico
Teofilo Cubillas lit up the 1970 World Cup in Mexico at 21 years old to win the Best Young Player award. The attacking midfielder marked his maiden Fifa tournament with five goals and an assist as Peru advanced to the quarter-finals, scoring in all four of his appearances.
Wladyslaw Zmuda helped Poland to third place at 1974 World Cup
Wladyslaw Zmuda helped Poland finish third at the 1974 World Cup in Germany after he played every minute of their seven games at 20 years old. The 91-cap centre-half also took three clean sheets that year, including helping to shut Brazil out in the third-place play-off.
Only the host nation managed to beat Poland that summer, with Bialo-czerwoni winning in each of their five matches before facing Germany. Zmuda would go on to play at a further three World Cup finals, including captaining Poland to another third-place finish in 1982.
Antonio Cabrini became only Italian winner of Best Young Player award in 1978
Antonio Cabrini will remain the only Italian winner of the Best Young Player award at a Fifa World Cup after the Azzurri failed to qualify for the Qatar 2022 tournament. The governing body retrospectively recognised the left-back for his efforts at the Argentina 1978 edition.
At 20 years old, Cabrini enjoyed seven of his 18 career appearances at the World Cup finals as Italy lost in the third-place play-off. He would go on to put the disappointments of 1978 in the past four years later, though, as the Azzurri won their third of four titles at Spain 1982.
Two-time bronze medallist Manuel Amoros was the Best Young Player in 1982
Manuel Amoros of France would follow Cabrini in 1982 to be a full-back who won the Best Young Player award at a World Cup. The right-back also took the bronze medal in Spain as Les Bleus lost 3-2 to Poland in the play-off during Amoros’ fifth appearance of the summer.
Coach Michel Hidalgo initially left a 21-year-old Amoros on the bench for the opening clash of the 1982 edition. But the Nimes native took over from game two, and would remain the first-choice at the 1986 World Cup. But he again could only take a bronze medal in Mexico.
Enzo Scifo helped guide Belgium to third-place play-off at 1986 World Cup
Enzo Scifo arrived in Mexico for the 1986 World Cup at 20 years old but he would return to Europe as that summer’s Best Young Player. The attacker made seven appearances off the right-wing through the tournament, whilst scoring once against Iraq and the Soviet Union.
Robert Prosinecki was the Best Young Player at 1990 World Cup for Yugoslavia
The 1990 World Cup in Italy saw the final appearance of Yugoslavia before the republics of the federation started to declare independence. Plavi would reach the quarter-finals at the tournament after advancing from Group D, edging Spain but lost on penalties to Argentina.
Robert Prosinecki, who would go on to play with Croatia at the 1998 and 2002 World Cups, was among Yugoslavia’s key men in 1990. At 21 years old, the midfielder enjoyed his best outing in their defeat to Argentina and was recognised as the Best Young Player that year.
Marc Overmars captured the world’s attention at 1994 World Cup in the USA
Marc Overmars captured the world’s attention at 20 years old with his efforts at the 1994 World Cup in the United States of America. The midfielder could only help the Netherlands reach the quarter-finals, but played a key role with two assists across his four appearances.
His cross to Dennis Bergkamp put Holland on course to beat the Republic of Ireland in the last 16. Aron Winter also met his corner to draw level with Brazil at 2-2 in the quarter-final, but Branco fired a free-kick past Ed de Goey in the 81st minute to clinch the Selecao’s win.
Overmars had only made his Netherlands debut in 1993 after gaining an important role at Ajax. His efforts in Amsterdam then led to a reunion with Bergkamp at Arsenal from 1997 to a £32m transfer to Barcelona in 2000 as a Premier League and FA Cup winner in 1997/98.
Fifa recognised Michael Owen as only Best Young Player from England in 1998
Fifa have only recognised one England talent as the Best Young Player at a World Cup with Michael Owen taking the award for the 1998 edition in France. The striker and 2001 Ballon d’Or winner arrived at the tournament as the top-scorer in the Premier League in 1997/98.
Owen took the English top-flight’s Golden Boot in ‘97/98 with 18 goals, a feat he repeated in ‘98/99 with another 18. In between, the 89-cap star lit up the World Cup with two goals and one assist at 18 years old as the Three Lions reached the last 16, but lost to Argentina.
Landon Donovan became only American to win the award at 2002 World Cup
Landon Donovan remains the only American to win the Best Young Player at a World Cup award after Fifa recognised the striker for his form at the 2022 edition in Japan and South Korea. At 20 years old, the 157-cap icon hit the global stage with two goals and one assist.
The California native would go on to feature at two further World Cups with another three games at Germany 2006 and four at South Africa 2010. Donovan also added another three goals to his World Cup account in 2010 with two group stage strikes and one in the last 16.
Lukas Podolski became first to win Best Young Player award at 2006 World Cup
Lukas Podolski became the first player to officially win the Best Young Player award at the 2006 Germany World Cup. The 130-cap forward shone on home soil during the first of his three Fifa tournaments at 21 years old with three goals across the striker’s seven outings.
His efforts directly influenced Die Mannschaft reaching the semi-finals, as well, having hit both goals to beat Sweden 2-0 in the last 16. Podolski would go on to add another two and two assists at the 2010 World Cup, before helping to win the tournament in Brazil in 2014.
Thomas Muller made it back-to-back German Best Young Players in 2010
Germany would take a successive bronze medal at World Cups in 2010 after finishing third in South Africa, like in 2006. The first Fifa tournament held on African soil also saw another Mannschaft talent sweep the Best Young Player award as Thomas Muller took the honour.
Muller, who did not make the Team of the Tournament, ended the 2010 World Cup as the joint-top scorer with five goals. The Bayern Munich hero hit one and created two over the group stage, before bagging a brace and assisting once to beat England 4-1 in the last 16.
At 20 years old, Muller continued to influence games in the quarter-final with one goal as Germany beat Argentina. But a yellow card in the final eight affair saw the playmaker miss the semi-final clash against the eventual champions Spain, which Die Mannschaft lost 1-0.
Muller would return to the field for the third-place play-off, and scored once to claim the bronze medal in a 3-2 win against Uruguay. He hit Germany’s first of the game in the 19th minute, after tapping in the rebound of Bastian Schweinsteiger’s shot for his fourth assist.
Paul Pogba picked up the Best Young Player award for the 2014 World Cup
Paul Pogba picked up the Best Young Player award for his efforts at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil for France. At 21 years old, the midfielder featured five times and offered a goal plus an assist, with his effort helping Les Bleus to eliminate Nigeria 2-0 during the Round of 16.
Germany would end France’s tournament in the quarter-finals, but Les Bleus responded in 2018 to win their second World Cup title. Pogba played six of their ties with one assist and also scored in the final. But he could miss the 2022 edition after undergoing knee surgery.
Kylian Mbappe lifted 2018 World Cup as the Best Young Player award winner
Mbappe lifted the 2018 World Cup with Pogba and France as the Best Young Player award winner in Russia. The Paris Saint-Germain superstar sealed individual honours at 19 years old as just the second teenager to score in the final during Les Bleus’ 4-2 win over Croatia.
Just by featuring in the Fifa showpiece, Mbappe became only the fourth teenager to play in a World Cup final. He was also already the favourite for the Best Young Player award after tearing Argentina to shreds in the last 16 with two goals, whilst winning France a penalty.
A Round of 16 double also made Mbappe the youngest player to score a brace during the knockout rounds at the World Cup finals since Pele in 1958. Altogether, the £4m-a-month PSG ace led France to glory with four goals and one assist through his seven appearances.
In other news, Star-studded France XI that won’t feature in this month’s Nations League games
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