Fifa Young Player award

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Recipients of the Young Player award

Since 1958, Fifa have awarded the Young Player accolade See Gallery

Since the 1958 World Cup in Sweden, FIFA have nominated the best young player of the World Cup. Although the talent of these players aged under-21 has been noted, an award was not actually given until 2006 to the Best Young Player - as chosen by the Fifa technical study group.

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1958: Pelé

Pelé (pictured, left) became the youngest player to score at a World Cup - at just 17 years old - with a goal against Wales in the quarter-finals of the 1958 world Cup in Sweden. He then scored a hat-trick in Brazil's 5-2 semi-final victory over France, which put them in the final. There, Brazil came up against the hosts Sweden, who they defeated 5-2 - with young Pelé scoring twice - as Brazil went on to lift their first World Cup trophy.

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1962: Florian Albert

The opening game of Hungary's campaign at the World Cup in Chile was looking as if it might end in a draw - until 20 year old Florian Albert scored in the 71st minute to give his side the two points over England. In Hungary's next game, Albert scored three goals against Bulgaria which contributed to Hungary's 6-0 win. Although Hungary crashed out of the competition after being beaten 1-0 by Czechoslovakia, Albert was the joint winner - along with five other players - of the Golden Shoe award for the highest goalscorer.

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1966: Franz Beckenbauer

Franz Beckenbauer (pictured, right) made his international debut in September 1965 and was a member of the West Germany team at the 1966 World Cup in England. The 20-year-old Beckenbauer scored two goals in his country’s opening game against Switzerland, helping his team to a 5-0 victory. He scored again in both the quarter-final and semi-final and his impressive play led to many experts correctly identifying him as a great young talent.

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1970: Teófilo Cubillas

Peru’s Teófilo Cubillas (pictured, right) scored five goals at the World Cup in Mexico in 1970. The 21-year-old’s performance in the quarter-final against Brazil, a match Peru lost, was so good it led to his opponents applauding him as he left the pitch at the end of the match.

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1974: Władysław Żmuda

A young Władysław Żmuda (pictured, front) travelled to the 1974 World Cup finals in West Germany with many team-mates who had been part of Poland’s Olympic gold-winning team in 1972. Having just turned 20, Żmuda played in all seven of Poland matches and did not receive a single yellow or red card. Poland reached the semi-finals of the competition and won the third-fourth play-off 1-0 against Brazil.

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1978: Antonio Cabrini

Antonio Cabrini (pictured, right) was part of a strong defence that helped Italy finish in fourth place at the 1978 World Cup. Only Brazil and the Netherlands managed to score twice against the Azzurri and they kept three clean sheets.

Jean-Yves Ruszniewski/TempSport/Corbis
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1982: Manuel Amoros

France defender Manuel Amoros saved his team from an early exit in the 1982 World Cup as he cleared away a shot on goal by Czechoslovakia during his country’s last group game. France beat Northern Ireland 4-1 in the second round but were defeated by West Germany in the semi-final in the first World Cup penalty shoot-out.

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1986: Enzo Scifo

Enzo Scifo (pictured, second left) was part of the Belgium squad who finished fourth in Mexico 1986, his country's most successful World Cup team ever. 20-year-old Scifo played in all seven matches and scored two goals - the opening goal in the group match with Iraq and Belgium's first goal in their 4-3 Round of 16 win against the Soviet Union.

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1990: Robert Prosinecki

A highly talented young midfielder, Robert Prosinecki was a member of the Yugoslavia team at the 1990 World Cup in Italy. His first appearance was as a substitute in the 55th minute of a heavy 4-1 defeat at the hands of West Germany. His first World Cup goal came in the final minute of Yugoslavia's last group match against the United Arab Emirates to ensure progression to the next round. Prosinecki played in the quarter-final against Argentina, which his nation lost on penalties. Prosinecki later represented Croatia at Euro 96 and the 1998 and 2002 World Cups. 

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1994: Marc Overmars

Dubbed 'Roadrunner' because of the speed and skill he displayed at the 1994 World Cup in America, Marc Overmars was part of the Netherlands team that reached the last eight where they were knocked out by eventual tournament winners Brazil. Aged just 21, Overmars played his part in all five of the Dutch team’s matches.

Ted Blackbrow/Daily Mail/Rex
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1998: Michael Owen

England’s 18-year-old striker Michael Owen scored his first World Cup goal against Romania during the group stage. His second goal, against Argentina in the second round, was regarded as one of the best of the tournament. He also scored in the penalty shoot-out in the same match and although England lost, the country had found a bright young star who would go on to score 40 times for his country.

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2002: Landon Donovan

The USA reached the quarter-finals in Korea/Japan 2002 with a 20-year-old Landon Donovan scoring two goals in five matches - one against international rivals Mexico and the other against Poland. Donovan later represented the USA at the 2006 and 2010 World Cups and became his country’s all-time highest scorer with more than 50 goals.

REUTERS/Alex Grimm
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2006: Lucas Podolski

A 21-year-old Lukas Podolski scored Germany's third goal in their final group stage match against Ecuador, which they won 3-0 and put them top of Group A. Podolski scored both goals against Sweden in his country’s second round match. Germany eventually finished third in the competition after their hopes of winning on home soil were dashed by Italy in the semi-finals, but Podolski won the Best Young Player award ahead of rivals  Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Notably, it was the first time a trophy was given to the winner of the award.

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2010: Thomas Müller

It did not take long for Germany midfielder Thomas Müller to make his mark at the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa. His first ever international goal came against Australia in the 4-0 win that opened Germany's campaign in a competition where they eventually finished third. Two goals from the 20-year-old contributed to Germany's 4-2 win over England as they progressed to the quarter-finals, where they beat Argentina with another four goals - one scored by the young star. Germany's hopes of World Cup victory were ended by Spain in the semi-final, but Müller got a consolation prize - the Best Young Player award.