14 Best Young Soccer Players in the World Cup History

Who is the best young player in the World Cup tournaments?

World Cup is the most prestigious competition in the world of international football. The tournament, which is held every four years, is always anticipated by millions of football lovers in different countries. This is because the World Cup tournament always presents dramatic moments, excitements, and amazement.

In this article, I present a list of the best young players from World Cup tournament from time to time. From the 1958 to 2002 World Cup, the best young players were selected through internet poll organized by FIFA. The official best young player award in World Cup has been awarded directly by FIFA since 2006. To be eligible to receive this award, a football player should not be older than 22 years old during the tournament. Without further ado, here is the list:

1958: Pele (Brazil)

Pele was named the best player of the 1958 World Cup when he led Brazil win the tournament in such a young age, 17 years old. Although he was still young, he was trusted to be the main striker of the team. Not only that, Pele also broke various records, such as "the youngest player to score a goal in World Cup history" and "the youngest player to score a hat trick in a World Cup tournament."

In this tournament, Pele managed to score six goals, making him the second top scorer under Just Fontaine of France. Pele's appearances in this tournament until today is regarded as the best performance of a young player in the World Cup ever. He did not only achieve individual success, but also team victory by winning this tournament. The 1958 World Cup is the first step that would make Pele be regarded as one of the best footballers of all time.

1962: Florian Albert (Hungary)

Florian Albert is a retired striker who earned the Golden Boot (top scorer of the tournament) award in the 1962 World Cup in Chile. Although the country only reached the quarterfinals round, Albert who was only 20 years old showed amazing performances. He exhibited elegant, full of skill, and beautiful playing styles. His best performance in the tournament happened when he scored a hat trick in the group stage and helped Hungary beat Bulgaria with a huge lead, 6-1.

1966: Franz Beckenbauer (West Germany)

Although he was only 20 years old at the moment, Franz Beckenbauer successfully showed outstanding leadership in the 1966 World Cup tournament. He helped his country reach the final round before losing to England through extra time. Although he played as a libero, Beckenbauer showed that he remained prolific in scoring goals. In this tournament, he became the third top scorer with a total of four goals.

1970: Teofilo Cubillas (Peru)

1970 World Cup in Mexico acted as a witness of the greatness of a Peruvian striker, Teofilo Cubillas, who was only 21 years old. Cubillas led Peru reach the quarterfinals and scored goals in every match that he played in the tournament. In total, he scored five goals that made him the third top scorer of the tournament. Unfortunately, his brilliant action should be ended when Peru was defeated by Brazil in the quarterfinals with a score of 2-1.

1974: Władysław Żmuda (Poland)

The Polish defender earned high praise when he played in the 1974 World Cup in West Germany. He showed solid performance in defense, bringing the country ranked third in the tournament. His best performance occurred in the group stage, where Zmuda helped his country defeat two favorite teams, Italy and Argentina. Throughout his career with Poland national football team, Zmuda played in four World Cup tournaments.

1978: Antonio Cabrini (Italy)

The Italian left-back is the best player in the 1978 World Cup, when he was 20 years old. He helped his country reach the semi-finals round and showed brilliant individual performances. Despite not scoring even a single goal, Cabrini successfully demonstrated outstanding forms. He was very strong in defense and determined in helping the attack. Four years after this tournament, Cabrini won greater achievements by winning the 1982 World Cup.

1982: Manuel Amoros (France)

Manuel Amoros was the right-back who played a major role in helping French national team reached the 1982 World Cup semifinals. He could make his country advance to the finals if only his hard shot at the last minute in the semi-final against West Germany did not hit the crossbar. Unfortunately, the French was eliminated after losing in the penalty shoot-outs round. Four years after this tournament, Amoros once again brought France reach the semi-finals and even selected as the best right-back of the World Cup 1986.

1986: Enzo Scifo (Belgium)

Enzo Scifo was a creative playmaker from Belgium of Italian descent. He showed his quality as a footballer in the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, where he led his team reach the semifinals round before being defeated by Argentina, which eventually became a champion out of the tournament. In this competition, Scifo scored two goals, one of them is an important goal that helped Belgium beat the Soviet Union 4-3 in the second round.

1990: Robert Prosinecki (Yugoslavia)

Prosinecki is a former Yugoslavian midfielder who was praised because of his extraordinary dribbling and playmaking abilities. In the 1990 World Cup in Italy, he took Yugoslavia reach the quarterfinal round before being eliminated by Argentina through penalty shoot-out. Eight years later, along with the Croatian national team, Prosinecki won the third place in the 1998 World Cup.

1994: Marc Overmars (Netherlands)

Marc Overmars was famous as a very fast and agile winger. In the 1994 World Cup, Overmars was in the golden period of his career with Ajax Amsterdam. At that time, he was only 21 years old, but already trusted to be a first-team player of the Oranje team. Although his country was eliminated in the quarterfinals round by losing to Brazil, Overmars's performance stole public attention. As a result, he was named the best young player of the tournament.

1998: Michael Owen (England)

Aged 18 years old, Owen scored a phenomenal goal in the second round matcch against Argentina. Owen ran from the middle of the field, dribbled the ball confidently past several Argentine defenders before finally scoring a beautiful goal. Until now, this Michael Owen's goal is regarded as one of the best goals in the history of the World Cup. Unfortunately, this goal couldn't take England advance to the next round as they lost in the penalty shoot-out.

2002: Landon Donovan (United States)

In this tournament, the United States was considered an underdog team that was predicted to be eliminated in the early rounds. It turned out that the prediction was wrong, and it was caused by scintillating performances from Landon Donovan. Donovan helped his country reached the quarterfinal rounds, beating teams that much more favored such as Portugal and Mexico. With a total of two goals he scored in the tournament, Donovan who was only 20 years old was named the best young player of the 2002 World Cup.

2006: Lukas Podolski (Germany)

Together with Miroslav Klose, Podolski was German mainstay strikers in the World Cup 2006. Although Germany failed to meet public expectations and only won third place, Podolski showed a charming individual performance in the tournament. He scored a total of three goals, two of them were scored in the group stage match against Sweden. His energetic and sharp performances made Podolski who was aged 21 years named as the best young player of the 2006 World Cup.

2010: Thomas Muller (Germany)

In this tournament Muller was trusted to wear the sacred jersey number, 13, a number that was previously worn by Michael Ballack and German's legendary striker, Gerd Muller. Wearing the sacred number, Muller performed wonderfully charming in the tournament. He managed to become the top scorer of the tournament with five goals. He was also elected as the best young player of 2010 World Cup. Not only that, Muller also helped Germany win the third place and defeated their arch-rivals, England and Argentina.

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