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Golden Boy Winners Over The Past 15 Years: What Happened?

Jack Kenmare

| Last updated 

Golden Boy Winners Over The Past 15 Years: What Happened?

The five-man shortlist for the 2018 Golden Boy award has been revealed and it gives an opportunity to take a look at the winners of the award, with it very much being a mixed bag.

The Golden Boy is given by journalists to a player under the age of 21. The requirements state that they must play in a European's top tier league.

It was established in 2003 by Italian newspaper Tuttosport, with former Tottenham and Real Madrid midfielder Rafael Van Der Vaart being the first player to receive the award after a superb campaign with Dutch side Ajax.

Here's what happened to all the past winners:

Rafael Van Der Vaart - Ajax (2003)

In his debut season for Ajax, a 20-year-old Rafael Van Der Vaart helped the Dutch side to a Eredivisie title in 2003/04.

After spells at Hamburg, Real Madrid, Tottenham Hotspur, Real Betis and now FC Midtjylland, the 33-year-old is nearing towards the end of his career after making an impressive 109 appearances for the Netherlands.

A great career.

Image: PA
Image: PA

Wayne Rooney - Manchester United (2004)

In this year, Wayne Rooney not only joined Manchester United in a deal worth £27 million but he became the youngest goalscorer in European Championship history.

Since his Golden Boy achievement in 2004, Rooney has become England and Manchester United's all-time top scorer and made a return to boyhood club Everton last summer.


He now plys his trade in the US with DC United. .

Lionel Messi - Barcelona (2005)

After making his Barcelona debut at the age of 16, Messi began to dominate world football from an early age and just two years later, he was crowned the Golden Boy in 2005.

- 8 La Liga titles
- 5 Ballon d'Ors
- 4 Champions League medals
- 5 Copa Del Reys

The best ever?

Lionel Messi priceless
Lionel Messi priceless

Cesc Fabregas - Arsenal - (2006)

Three years after leaving Barcelona for North London, Fabregas was a fully fledged Premier League player under Arsene Wenger, making 49 appearances in all competitions.

Since leaving Arsenal in 2011, Fabregas has played for his old side Barcelona and is currently at Chelsea, where he has won two Premier League titles.

Sergio Aguero - Atletico Madrid (2007)

Following the departure of Fernando Torres to Liverpool back in 2007, Atletico Madrid didn't struggle to replace El Nino and in May 2006, the Spanish were convinced that Sergio Aguero was the right man to replace their once prolific striker.


They were right.

Aguero was awarded the Golden Boy after his superb breakthrough season at the age of 18. Just look at him now. The highest-scoring non European in Premier League history, he is now two goals away from being Manchester City's all-time top scorer.

Anderson - Manchester United (2008)

From 2008 onwards, the Golden Boy award was slightly tinted and former Manchester United midfielder Anderson was the beginning of a poor run for this prestigious award.

Anderson's move to Manchester United in 2007 was given the hype treatment and despite winning the Premier League four times, the Champions League and League Cup under Sir Alex Ferguson, his time in football since has gone down hill.


Alexandre Pato - AC Milan (2009)

Once regarded as the hottest prospect in world football, Alexandre Pato's mixture of bad luck and injuries has meant that his career has lagged.

After picking up the award in 2009 following a promising season with Milan, he has since played for Corinthians, Sao Paulo, Chelsea and Villarreal, and now plies his trade in China with Tianjin Tianjin.

51 goals in 117 appearances for Milan, though.

Mario Balotelli - Manchester City (2010)

The third year in a row that Golden Boy have cursed the winner.

Balotelli was crowned Golden Boy after a superb spell with Inter, which included four Serie A titles and a Champions League medal, Mario moved to Manchester City and the fireworks began, literally.


In 2013, Balotelli tried to revive his career at AC but soon moved to Liverpool.

We all know what happened after that, but to be fair to Balo, he had a brilliant 17-goal season for Nice last season and has remained with the club for a further season.

Image: PA
Image: PA

Mario Gotze - Borussia Dortmund (2011)

At the age of 18, Gotze made 39 appearances at Dortmund, picking up eight goals in during a sensational season under Jurgen Klopp.

Gotze deservedly picked up the Golden Boy award in 2011 and has since made a move to Bayern Munich, and more recently returned to his stomping ground, Westfalenstadion. His career stunted after being diagnosed with myopathy, a rare muscular disease that threatened to end his career prematurely, but has since bounced back and is a regular.

Image: PA
Image: PA

Paul Pogba - Juventus (2013)

Ah, the world's most expensive player. After Sir Alex Ferguson palmed him off to Juventus in 2012 for a reported fee of £800,000, the French midfielder began to make inroads at the Old Lady and soon became a first team starter.

One year after leaving Old Trafford, he was awarded the Golden Boy. Three years later, he became Manchester United's most expensive signing.

Football is a funny old game, isn't it.

Image: PA
Image: PA

Raheem Sterling - Liverpool (2014)

Some people forget Sterling's contribution at Liverpool, as the likes of Luis Suarez dominated the headlines, but the 22-year-old was crucial in their 2013/14 title push and was consequently awarded the Golden Boy that season.

Sterling has had plenty of doubters since he made a £49 million move to Manchester City in 2015 but has proved doubters wrong with a flurry of impressive performances under Pep Guardiola this season.

Anthony Martial - Manchester United (2015)


Manchester United were branded ridiculous after they made relatively unknown striker Anthony Martial a key piece of business two years ago but after 17 goals in 61 appearances for the club in 2015/16, he was deservedly given the Golden Boy award.

He has been in and out of the team under Jose Mourinho but there's no denying that he's a supremely talented player that United are lucky to have in their ranks

Image: PA
Image: PA

Sanches' incredible breakthrough season at Primeira Liga side Benfica earned him a big move to Bayern Munich, and with a Young Player of the Tournament award under his belt after winning the European Championships with Portugal in 2016, he quite rightly trumped the likes of Marcus Rashford to the prestigious award last year.

Since, he has struggled to make an impact in England and Germany, especially at Swansea last season.

Kylian Mbappe - Monaco/Paris Saint-Germain (2017)

Mbappe's groundbreaking spell at Monaco came to an end in 2017 and in September of that year, he earned a move to Paris Saint-Germain, where he would eventually become the world's most expensive player. He netted 13 times in 27 appearances for the French champions in the 2017/18 season, striking a lethal partnership with Edinson Cavani and Neymar in that time.

Who will win the 2018 Golden Boy - Trent Alexander Arnold, Matthijs de Ligt, Vinicius Junior, Patrick Cutrone or Justin Kluivert?

Let us know in the comments.

Topics: Football News, Football, Messi

Jack Kenmare
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