It is an absolute delight to see young footballers shuffling and prancing their way through a phalanx of defenders in their pursuit of glory. It gets even better when the same footballers converge upon the most prestigious stage of all, the FIFA World Cup.
Over the years the FIFA World Cup has entertained countless fans with an excellent display of ambition, brilliance and memorable moments of madness from these young flairs. It is not easy for a wunderkind to take the world by the scruff of its neck unless he is special.
It isn’t just about the physical attributes that make one untenable in the longest format of the sport. It is also one’s strong will, resilience and the tenacity to never bow down in front of the giants, Gods and legends.
In this story, we will take a quick look at three footballers who won the Best Youngest Player in a World Cup and were the youngest amongst the youngest players of all.
3. Kylian Mbappe in 2018 (19 years)
Mbappe has been in extraordinary touch ever since his footfall for his country. The French national team started their journey in the 2018 World Cup with a hard-fought win over Austria. Despite sparks of brilliance, Mbappe was contained for most of the time. Questions were asked and the speedster couldn’t answer many. He chose the field to answer as he hammered the solitary strike of the night against Peru in their following encounter. It was also the match that saw him flapping his wings at his fullest magnificence. After a lacklustre draw against Denmark in the final game of the group stage, France showed their true colours from the knock-out stages.
Mbappe hammered home a brace against Argentina that wrecked Messi and company. He also strung together with countless chances against Uruguay that didn’t see the light of the day due to the profligacy of the French strikers. It was Mbappe’s brilliant run that led to the foal of Umtiti in the semis. The final strike of the World Cup came from Kylian Mbappe that took the game beyond any reach of the Croats. He went on to win the crown at just 19 years of age.
2. Michael Owen in 1998 (18 years)
This was a rare occasion when the best youngest player was crowned after playing only four matches in the tournament. That too the opening one came five minutes against Tunisia. Things turned out extremely sour for England when they took a hammering at the hands of Romania, thanks to a resounding display of brilliance from the Carpathian Maradona, Gheorghe Hagi.
England was confronted with a must-win game against Columbia in the final match of the group stage that they were able to successfully win by a comprehensive margin. Owen played an absolutely brilliant role in the midfield and was one of the industrious aspects of the team’s advancement to the next round. It was Owen who scored in the round of 16 to give England a lead for the second time, which was nullified by Zanetti for Argentina. The game dragged itself to the tie-breaker where England had an unfortunate crash despite dictating terms, thanks to a supreme edition of Michael Owen’s unparalleled display.
1. Pele in 1958 (17 years)
Despite Just Fontaine stealing the show in 1958 with 13 goals for France, Pele was altogether a different brand of excitement.
Running rings around defenders, scoring in the crisp moments and helping Brazil to lift the trophy, the emperor of football was just getting started. At just a tender age of 17 years, he hammered 6 goals for his team that came in extremely handy for his teammates to lift the World Cup. What was actually exciting to witness was the amount of technicality and crazy footwork that this 17-year-old brought with him.