One of the key aims of FIFA’s under age football competition initiative is to allow for the developmental progress of global football stars of tomorrow.
From the Under 17 to Under 20 and then Olympics, up to the biggest stage of World football, it is always fulfilling for any football federation which has its players living through the years to feature in all categories of global football competition.
As the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia approaches, we take a look at some of the players who graduated from the FIFA Under-17 World Championship hosted by Nigeria in 2009 and have reached this stage of global competition.
Prominent names such as the Golden Boy of Brazilian football Neymar Junior, serial Champions League winner Isco, Nigeria vice-captain Ogenyi Onazi and Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka are among the players who have graduated to the senior level.
20 – Out of the five hundred and four (504) players registered for the tournament in Nigeria, only TWENTY (20) are in the final squad of players for Russia 2018 as confirmed by FIFA on Monday.
12 – Out of the twenty-four (24) countries that participated in the tournament in West Africa nine years ago, twelve (exactly 50%) of them are heading to Russia among the global elites.
5 – Five of the twelve countries have just one survivor each from Nigeria 2009 in their final 23-man squad for Russia 2018. They are; Argentina, Colombia, Iran, Korea Republic and Mexico.
4 – Four countries will have two players each from that tournament representing them in Russia 2018. They are; Nigeria, Spain, Costa Rica and Germany.
3 – Switzerland won the tournament in Nigeria in 2009 and are in Russia with three key members of that squad who have also grown to be important parts of the senior national team.
Swiss Boys Rodriguez (left) and Xhaka (right) back in 2009.
1 – World football powerhouse Brazil have the highest number of players (four) that have developed into some of the finest stars in the world from Under-17 in 2009. All four of them are expected to play key roles in Russia.
0 – Of all the twelve countries that are in Russia, only Uruguay are without a single representative from Nigeria 2009.
List of players:
Brazil – Neymar, Phillipe Coutinho, Casemiro and goalkeeper Alisson
Switzerland – Granit Xhaka, Ricardo Rodriguez and Haris Seferovic
Nigeria – Ogenyi Onazi and Kenneth Omeruo
Spain – Isco and Koke
Costa Rica – Joel Campbell and Yeltsin Tejeda
Germany – Marc-Andre Ter Stegen and Marvin Plattenhardt
Korea Republic – SON Heungmin
Colombia – Santiago Arias
Iran – Morteza Pouraliganji
Argentina – Nicolas Tagliafico
Mexico – Diego Reyes
Picture credit: FIFA