29 May 2018
By Bryan Smyth
SOCCER: Will this World Cup produce the next Soccer Superstar?
The World Cup is the ultimate stage for players to either cement their legacy as one of the world’s best, or prove that they are the future of the sport. While on the one hand, players of Ronaldo, Messi, Neymar and Ozil’s calibre will definitely add a lot of flair and excitement to the event, many fans will be watching closely to see if they can spot the next big star. The World Cup is the stage that provides younger and lesser-known players an immense opportunity to take the spotlight and become superstars.
Didier Deschamp’s French squad will be looking to repeat the feats of the 1998 and 2006 tournaments. The French coach has based his squad on youth and talent, with the average age of his players only 26.4. Youngsters like Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele will each have the chance to show the world that they deserve to be mentioned alongside players like Zinedine Zidane and Thierry Henry.
France is not the youngest team in this competition. That credit goes to Nigeria. The team’s average age is 24.9 with Leicester City’s Wilfred Ndidi the youngest at 19. Germany too, has decided to forgo extensive experience with a squad whose average age is 25.7, and filled with notable talents like 21-year-old Timo Werner and 22-year-old Leroy Sane.
The World Cup is famous for making players global household names. One player who made his name at his debut FIFA tournament is French star Franck Ribery. He was, fast, tricky and an excellent dribbler able to stun defenders with his sly backheels during his pomp. He won French Player of the Year three times and represented his country at the age of 23 in his first World Cup in Germany in 2006. He played in every game, including the World Cup final. After demonstrating his skills on the world stage, it was no wonder that the following year he was picked up by German giants Bayern Munich. Ribery excelled on the world stage and became a superstar. This year’s younger players will hope to follow in his footsteps of the likes of Ribery and co. in Russia.
With the FIFA World Cup set to kick next off month on June 14th, the pool of talented players seems to be vast this year, with every one of the 32 teams fielding at least one young star player in their squad. With the tournament regarded as the most prestigious in world football, it is a chance for young players to shine and show off their skills in the most watched sporting event in the world. After all, the World Cup was the stage that gave superstars like Hurst, Pele, and Maradona their legendary status. Of course, while individual performances will set the tournament alight, it will be the best team that lifts the trophy.