15 Best Young Players At FIFA World Cups Of All Time

FIFA started nominating the Best Young Player of the tournament since the 1958 World Cup in Sweden when Brazilian star Pele was the first one to get nominated. This nomination never received an award until the World Cup of 2006 when FIFA technical study group decided to present an award to the Best Young Player.

Here is a list of 15 football stars who have either been nominated or have lifted the award for the Best Young Player in FIFA World Cups since 1958:

15. Paul Pogba-2014

Paul Pogba (French)

Paul Dogba was awarded the Best Young Player Award in 2014 World Cup at Brazil. This 21 year old French star showed some remarkable skills in the tournament during his five appearances. He scored a very decisive goal against Nigeria. He remained a prominent figure throughout the contest in Brazil. He has an 80 percent pass completion rate in 354 minutes of play including a valuable assist against Switzerland. He seems to have picked up from the same level where he left off at the Under 20 FIFA World Cup of 2013. He has been the proud recipient of the Golden Ball Award in the 2013 under 20 World Cup.

14. Thomas Muller-2010

Thomas Muller-2010

German midfielder made his mark quite early in the 2010 World Cup finals against South Africa. He made his presence felt by scoring his first ever international goal against Australia in a match which they eventually won by 4-0. Germany won 4-2 against England to progress to the quarters. Two out of the four goals were scored by Thomas. The young star again scored a goal against Argentina to beat them by four goals. Although German hopes of getting the World Cup were crushed by Spain, Muller did get the Best Young Player award as a consolation prize.

13. Lucas Podolski-2006

Lucas Podolski-2006

21 year old Podolski made his team reach the top of Group A by winning the final group stage match against Ecuador by 3-0 in which the third goal was scored by him. In the second round match against Sweden, Podolski scored two goals. Germany could manage the third spot in the tournament after being dashed out in the semi finals by Italy. However, Podoski won the Best Young Player award despite Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo being in the competition. This was the first time that a trophy was handed over to the winner of Best Young Player award.

12. Landon Donovan-2002

Landon Donovan-2002

2002 World Cup saw USA reaching quarter finals in Korea/Japan. 20 year old Landon Donovan scored two goals in five matches against Mexico and Poland. He later became a part of the US World Cup Squad in the 2006 and 2010 World Cups as well. He has become his country’s all time highest scorer with over 50 goals to his credit.

11. Michael Owen-1998

Michael Owen-1998

English player Michael Owen was all of 18 when he scored his first goal against Romania during the group matches. The second goal he scored against Argentina was considered the best in the tournament. He also scored a goal in penalty shootout, however England lost the match.

10. Marc Overmars-1994

Marc Overmars-1994

His speed and skill on the field in the 1995 World Cup earned him the nickname “Roadrunner”. Overmars was a part of the Netherlands team at just 21 years of age. The team managed to reach the last eight in the tournament and Overmars played all five games of the Dutch team. Their team was finally knocked out by Brazil who went on to win the World Cup eventually.

9. Robert Prosinecki-1990

Robert Prosinecki-1990

Robert Prosinecki was a member of the 1990 Yugoslavian team for the World Cup. He made his first appearance in the 55th minute of the game as a substitute when Yugoslavia’s chips were down and they were eventually defeated 4-1 by West Germany. His first World Cup goal was against United Arab Emirates in the final minute of the last group match which ensured them a progression to the next round. He played the quarter final against Argentina and gave a remarkable performance. The team however later lost on penalties. He eventually became a part of Croatian team at Euro 96 and in the 1998 and 2002 World Cups.

8. Enzo Scifo-1986

Enzo Scifo-1986

Belgium finished fourth in Mexico in 1986 which was the best they had done ever. 20 year old Scifo scored two goals in seven matches.

7. Manuel Amoros-1982

Manuel Amoros-1982

Defender Manuel Amoros avoided an early departure of his team in 1982 World Cup as he saved a shot at the goal by Czechoslovakia in the last group game. France was defeated by West Germany in the semis in a penalty shootout.

6. Antonio Cabrini-1978

Antonio Cabrini-1978

Antonio formed a formidable defense helping Italy land up at fourth place in the World Cup of 1978. It was only Brazil and Netherlands who could manage to breach their defense twice.

5. Władysław Żmuda-1974

Władysław Żmuda-1974

Wladyslaw Zmuda was the part of the 1974 Polish World Cup football team in which most of his teammates had been the part of Poland’s Olympic team that won gold in 1972. All of 20, Zmuda played seven matches for Poland and came out clean without a single red or yellow card.

4. Teófilo Cubillas-1970

Teófilo Cubillas-1970

Cubillas scored five goals in the 1970 Mexico World Cup. Although Peru lost their match against Brazil, the performance of this 21 year old was so scintillating that even his opponents applauded him as he left the ground.

3. Franz Beckenbauer-1966

Franz Beckenbauer-1966

20 year old Franz made an appearance in September 1965 as a member of the West Germany’s World Cup team. He was quickly identified by experts as a great young talent when he scored two goals in the opening game and then again scored in the quarters and semis.

2. Florian Albert-1962

Florian Albert-1962

Hungary’s opening game in 1962 World Cup was nearing a draw against Chile until Florian Albert who was barely 20 years, old scored a goal to gain two points over England in the points tally. Albert scored another three goals in the next game against Bulgaria. Hungary was ousted by Czechoslovakia from the tournament however Albert received the Golden Shoe award along with five other players.

1. Pelé-1958


Brazilian legend Pele holds the distinction of being the youngest player in a World Cup to score a goal which he did against Wales in 1958 in the quarter finals when he was only 17. He continued with his form through the semi finals and finals with a hat-trick and two goals respectively resulting in Brazil lifting their first World Cup trophy.

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