U17 WORLD CUP: BREEDING GROUND OF FUTURE STARS

U17 WORLD CUP: BREEDING GROUND OF FUTURE STARS

BY KUNLE SOLAJA

The maiden trophy of the U-17 World Cup is a bronze that is cast in the form of a shoot unfurling into full flower.

It symbolized the young generation of footballers blossoming out of the competition into a new sporting territory.

The philosophy behind the trophy has in deed come into fruition.  The competition, which enters its 18th edition, has in deed been a breeding ground of future stars.

Most of them have blossomed into the present day’s stars while others have even retired as legends.

Thanks to the competition, the world have such array of stars like Nwankwo Kanu (Nigeria), Fernado Torres (Spain), Ronaldinho (Brazi), Mikel Obi (Nigeria) Csec Fabrigas (Spain) Esteban Cambiasso (Argentina), Andreas Iniesta (Spain), Juan Veron (Argentina), Carlos Tevev (Argentina),  Iker Casillas  (Spain) and Victor Osimhen (Nigeria) among others.

Such is the success of the competition that the world can  look back in nostalgia at the humble beginning if the tournament in 1985 and begin to count the abundant blessings that have followed.

Three players of the 2006 FIFA World Cup winning side, Italy once took part in the U17 tournament.  The y are Alensasandro Del Piero in 1991, Gianluigi Buffon and Francesco Totti in 1993.

Nigeria can boast of having five players who won U 17 tournament and went ahead to win the gold medal at the football event of the Olympics.

The record makers are Nwankwo Kanu, Celestine Babayaro, Wilson Oruma, Emmanuel Babayaro and Mobi Oparaku. They all graduated from the 1993 squad into the Olympic team of 1996.

It is therefore not a misplaced vision for anyone to look enthusiastically at the 504 players who will be gracing the turf of Brazil at the current edition. The pertinent question therefore is: Who will be the next stars to be thrown up by the competition.

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