FIFA U-17 World Cup: Why We Might Not See The Next Gen Of Footballing Superstars In This Tournament
We are not trying to be a spoil-sport here. The FIFA U-17 World Cup is indeed a great thing for Indian football, which is hosting (and qualifying) the tournament for the first time. That said, viewers should be aware that U-17 success doesn’t guarantee a successful career as a senior professional. A lot like how a lot of Junior Wimbledon winners don’t shine too much on the ATP tour.
That said, the enthusiasm in the Indian camp and across the country is high, considering we’ve never seen India play in a World Cup. Our loyalties are usually divided between EPL teams like Chelsea and Manchester United, and not many of us would agree to be being excited about the ISL season (yes, going to the stadiums is fun, but we don’t pray for our teams).
“I’m sure that this is perhaps the strongest team India has fielded in this age group. The competitive experience is a big factor at this level but I’m very confident about this team and I can already feel the adrenaline flowing in me and my team. I’m very happy at the way how the team has shaped up,” India’s U 17 head coach Luis Norton de Matos said in a press release.
“When I started in February, I spent the first few weeks to know and learn about the players. All coaches have different ideas and their process and I’m sure after the exposure trip to Europe the players have improved a lot. They are a focused bunch who have accepted my ideas on football with ease,” he added.
But will the tournament be a spring board for future stars? It doesn’t seem likely. Yes, there are players like Cesc Fabregas and Toni Kroos who have won the Golden Ball at the tournament, and gone on to play football at the highest level for the best clubs.
And the likes of Xavi, Iniesta and Fernando Torres too have played the tournament, but the two biggest names in international football right now – Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, never played a part. Nigeria, which has won the tournament a record five times, has never found similar success at the senior FIFA World Cup.
The Indian Express did a wonderful analysis on the same subject, and listed out some stats about how the biggest stars, barring a few didn’t catch anyone’s eye at this stage.
Great Players who never won
Luis Figo (Portugal) – ’89
Emmanuel Petit (France) – ’87
Alessandro Del Piero (Italy) – ’91
Hidetoshi Nakata (Japan), Francesco Totti (Italy), Gianluigi Buffon (Italy) – ’93
Esteban Cambiasso (Argentina), Pablo Aimar (Argentina), Julio Cesar (Brazil) – ’95
Iker Casillas (Spain), Xavi Hernandez (Spain) – ’97
Landon Donavan (USA) – ’99
Andres Iniesta (Spain), Fernando Torres (Spain), Carlos Tevez (Argentina), Javier Mascherano (Argentina) – ’01
John Obi Mikel (Nigeria), Cesc Fabregas (Spain), David Silva (Spain) -’03
Danny Welbeck (England), David de Gea (Spain), Eden Hazard (Belgium), Toni Kroos (Germany), James Rodriguez (Colombia) – ’07
Neymar (Brazil), Philippe Coutinho (Brazil), Mario Goetze (Germany), Isco (Spain) – ’09
Raheem Sterling (England) – ’11
Great Players who did win
1991: Samuel Kuffour (Ghana) – ’91
1993: Nwankwo Kanu (Nigeria) – ’93
1997: Ronaldinho (Brazil) – ’97
2005: Carlos Vela (Mexico) -’05
Great Players who never played
Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)
Lionel Messi (Argentina)
Philipp Lahm (Germany)
Thomas Muller (Germany)
Zinedine Zidane (France)
Thierry Henry (France)
Bastian Schweinsteiger (Germany)