World Cup is the stage where boys turned into men. When heroes become Legends. Where Legends become immortals. It’s not called the ‘Greatest show on earth’ not only because it lets us enjoy the Messis, Ronaldos, the Brazils, the Argentinas.
Another component that makes this spectacle a truly great one is the rise of some young blood. Players just starting to kick off their career in senior professional football. This is the best breakthrough they can ever dream of having. Every one of them try their level best. But some grasp the opportunity and show the world exactly what they are made of. The fire, the zeal, the intensity to prove themselves in the biggest stage comes through and more often than not, triggers a bidding war among the European powerhouse clubs.
Today, we look back at the top three young players who took the World Cup by storm and have already made a name for themselves. They’re no longer waiting for the future for exposure, they already have it in the present.
Kylian Mbappe (France)
Was there ever any doubt? Well, if you’ve followed the ‘French Flash’s career from Monaco to World Cup glory, there shouldn’t be any. Ever since Thierry Henry retired, France were on the lookout for his heir. Many came, most of them ended in being disappointments. Until now. With his pace, power, dribbling skills; young Kylian resembles so much to ‘King Titi’. Even their professional careers started at the same club. After tearing it up in France for the last two years, time had come for Mbappe to replicate his club heroics for ‘Les Blues’. And boy, did he do that!
After a relatively subdued group stage performances, where despite all that he scored the winner against Peru, Mbappe’s wrath was fully unleashed against Argentina in the Knockout stages. Up until Messi and Co. took the lead, he wasn’t to be seen much. But that feeling of being potentially knocked out of the World Cup triggered something. And that was the end for Jorge Sampaoli’s men. Mbappe’s brace sent the ‘Albiceleste’ packing.
His performances against Uruguay and Belgium were further prove, the hype about the youngster is too real. And he just put the icing on a perfect world cup with that magnificent goal, becoming only the 2nd teenager after Pele to score in a World Cup final. He also bagged the title for the best young player of world cup 2018.
Even during his greatest ever achievement, Mbappe didn’t let the occasion get the better of him. When Pele joking tweeted about coming back from retirement seeing Mbappe equalling his records; the youngster replied to the tweet, saying “The King always remains King.” Shows just how level headed World’s best young player right now truly is.
Aleksandr Golovin (Russia)
If you’re an avid Europa League follower, you’d have heard of him last season. Or if you’re an Arsenal fan, you’d have heard about and seen him. When Aleksandr Golovin scored an away goal at the Emirates in the Europa League semi final, few would’ve thought there was a world cup star in the making. But Golovin did exactly that and some!
Similarities with German superstar Marco Reus in terms of looks and playing style were a popular topic once he came into the spotlight.
In the very first match of the World Cup, Golovin was devastating. Along with fellow Russian Denis Cheryshev, they brought about the downfall of the Saudi Arabia. Golovin finished his campaign with an 80% dribbling success. He set up two goals before curling home a brilliant free-kick. And without the goalmouth actions, he’s still a very good player.
Winning 11 tackles is no easy stat on its own. Golovin was amazing against Spain, scoring from the spot in the shoot out. After impressing in the biggest stage of them all, Golovin has already triggered a bidding war among the big clubs in order to snap him up.
Jordan Pickford (England)
Ever since Joe Hart was dropped, there was no definitive answer as to who’s the next England ‘Number 1’? Manager Gareth Southgate, always tinkering with the squad, gave chances to everyone. But it was the Everton keeper who impressed me the most.
Before that, Pickford showed his true prowess against Colombia as he inspired England to their first World Cup penalty shootout win ever. In the quarters against Sweden, he wasn’t to be beaten. Same would be the case against Croatia. Even though it didn’t come home and the English bowed out in the semis, Pickford took center stage again. With an absolutely amazing eyeball to eyeball save from Mandzukic’s ‘point blank’ shot, the young English keeper can take a lot of positives from this heartbreak of sorts for England.