They will deliver the award until December 13 in Turin, but Tuttosport Pedri González has already been made official as the winner of the Golden Boy 2021 award. And with this novelty, it is time to update the list of all the footballers who have won the award that recognizes the best U21 talent of the year in Europe. And yes, as the headline says, Lionel Messi, THE GOAT, it’s included.
Fast forward: there are several who have fallen after a fantastic start to their career, but most of the Golden Boys have done important things in the world of football. There are more who have managed to leave their mark.
THE GOLDEN BOY AWARD WINNERS (2003-2021)
➔ 2003. Rafael van der Vaart (Ajax). He shone from his first games with Ajax, so his award was not surprising. When he was awarded he was already a benchmark for the Amsterdam club and had been considered by the Netherlands senior team for a couple of years. A special midfielder who represented his country for more than a decade.
➔ 2004. Wayne Rooney (Manchester United). After what he did in his first courses with Everton, and after being signed for a record number by Manchester United, he could not close his adolescent stage without an award of this nature. After winning the Golden Boy, the 1985-born man did nothing more than write his name in the history of the most beautiful sport in the world. One of the best forwards of all time.
2005. Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona). The best footballer on the planet, of the time and of history also won the Golden Boy. Messi did not need many games with the first team of FC Barcelona to show that he was the best youth talent in 2005. A different one since he was a teenager. Thus, with this trophy, he began his ascent to the throne.
➔ 2006. Cesc Fabregas (Arsenal). He won it a year after his great friend Messi, with whom he shared in the lower teams of FC Barcelona. An award for a midfielder who, from a very young age, had a relevant role in Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal. Legendary foreigner in the Premier League and an indisputable figure in the Spanish National Team.
➔ 2007. Sergio Agüero (Atlético de Madrid). Two-time U20 world champion and youth star in Europe since he arrived at Atlético de Madrid. He was not over 20 years old when he began to position himself as one of the best attackers on the planet. Manchester City’s all-time top scorer and one of the best strikers of recent decades.
➔ 2008. Anderson (Manchester United). Due to his good performance in the Manchester United shirt, the Brazilian midfielder joined the Golden Boy in 2008. He stood out as a young man, but was not able to stay in the elite. From England he returned to Brazil and later went to Turkey. He has not officially competed since August 2019.
➔ 2009. Alexandre Pato (AC Milan). He conquered it after marveling in his days with AC Milan. Its ceiling was very high. However, injuries and other interests (he returned to Brazil and ended up in China) kept him from TOP football in Europe. He tried to come back in later years (Chelsea and Villarreal). Unfortunately, it was no longer the same.
➔ 2010. Mario Balotelli (Manchester City). The Italian won it in a year in which he showed that he could make a difference in Italy and England. Mario has had good times in high-demand football. In the end, reviewing his career, he never really took off as expected. Currently, at 31, he plays in Turkey.
➔ 2011. Mario Götze (Borussia Dortmund). The young Borussia Dortmund sensation lifted the award in 2011. In his first stint at the club of his love, he broke it in a scandalous way. The issue with him was that he decided to go to Bayern Munich (he lost prominence) and the metabolism problem appeared that has prevented him from being at the top in the physical line. At PSV, little by little, he is enjoying the game again.
➔ 2012. Isco Alarcón (Málaga). He won it playing for Málaga. The talented Spanish midfielder was overcoming stages and came to be one of the best in his position. His current status is far from IDEAL, but he has already left his mark on Real Madrid (champion of everything, including the three-time consecutive UEFA Champions League).
➔ 2013. Paul Pogba (Juventus). Awarded for his contribution to Juventus since his landing. It came at zero cost and, in a very short time, went from not counting for Sir Alex Ferguson (at Manchester United), to being a fundamental piece of the multi-champion of Italy. There will be those who say they expected much more from Pogboom, but the reality is that he has not done anything wrong. U20 world champion, won everything local with the Old lady, UEFA Champions League finalist and French world champion. His pending subject is with the giant of Old Trafford (the same is not that the club – on a structural level – has done a great job in recent years).
➔ 2014. Raheem Sterling (Liverpool). The explosive English winger monopolized the votes just in the year that Liverpool almost conquered the Premier League of England. Raheem put together a spectacular offense alongside Luis Suárez, Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho. Your act with Los Reds He took him to Manchester City, where he has grown up under Pep Guardiola (although lately he has lost prominence).
➔ 2015. Anthony Martial (AS Mónaco/Manchester United). They gave him the award after standing out with AS Monaco (first half of the year) and with Manchester United (second half). It was the way he closed what, so far, has been the most important year of his professional career. A lot of talent, little consistency.
➔ 2016. Renato Sanches (Benfica/Bayern). Local triplet with Benfica and motor in the Portugal National Team that won the 2016 European Nations Cup. In addition, in this same stage, his signing for Bayern Munich was closed. Everything was going well, but the bet on the Bavarian club did not work and, between injuries, it was difficult for him to return to the elite. He is recovering ground with Lille, he has even returned to the Portugal National Team.
➔ 2017. Kylian Mbappé (AS Monaco). Meteoric rise. In a matter of months, he went from being a youth team player, to being a key player in AS Monaco, a French national team and a bombshell signing in a summer market. Brutal records, appearance at high risk moments, collective titles and an atypical regularity for a 17-18 year old boy. He swept the votes with total justice. He could have won more than one Golden Boy, but it cannot be repeated. A world champion that, without a doubt, will be engraved with golden letters in the history of football.
➔ 2018. Matthijs de Ligt (Ajax/Juventus). Captain of Ajax and undisputed holder of the Netherlands National Team. He aims to become one of the best defenders on the planet. Game reading, ball kick, technical quality, physical strength and good sense of anticipation. He made history in the club of his loves and has already made the leap to Juventus, a club that did not hesitate to make him the most expensive center-back in the history of Italian football.
➔ 2019. John Felix (Benfica/Athletic). Portuguese League Champion, UEFA Nations League finalist, excelled in the UEFA Europa League, had a fantastic first half of 2019 with Benfica, Portuguese youth MVP and starred in a record transfer with Atlético de Madrid. We are very much like the new 7 of Atlético de Madrid, but we would be lying if we did not write that, in the 2019 edition, we saw Jadon Sancho as the winner. Be that as it may, a bright future awaits you. He has goal, vision, game between the lines, last pass and dribble.
➔ 2020. Erling Haaland (BVB). Arguments to spare to win it. It did not require ‘adaptation process’ to start destroying everything with the Borussia Dortmund shirt. Records in the Bundesliga, records in the UEFA Champions League and his first annotations with the Norwegian national team arrived. In terms of records, still a teenager, he is rubbing shoulders with monsters of the stature of Robert Lewandowski, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Destined for greatness.
➔ 2021. Pedri (FC Barcelona). At just 18 years of age, and in just his debut course in the First Division, Pedri established himself as a permanent starter at FC Barcelona and the Spanish National Team. The thing was not only that he played, but that he stood out. Outstanding performances in the League and Champions. He was champion of the Copa del Rey. He won the silver medal at the Olympics. And he was a young MVP in his first European Championship of Nations. The canary added 318 points in the voting. His closest pursuer was Jude Bellingham, who was given 119 units. Never before in the entire history of the Golden Boy has there been such a significant gap. That’s how forceful it was the victory of the culé midfielder. Talent and maturity to build a legendary career.
Undefeated data. France and Spain are the countries with the most winners (3) of the Golden Boy award in all history: Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial and Kylian Mbappé, from the French side; and Cesc, Isco and Pedri, from the Spanish side.
Did you know…? Manchester United is the club that has had the most representatives who have won the Ballon d’Or: Wayne Rooney (he received it as a United player), Anderson and Anthony Martial (he received it when he was already a United player). They are followed by AS Monaco, Ajax, Atlético de Madrid and Benfica.
Undefeated data. Lionel Messi is the only Golden Boy winner who has also won the Ballon d’Or. And he has won it 6 times.
Did you know…? Pedri and Lionel Messi are the only footballers who have won the Golden Boy award as members of FC Barcelona. It took 16 years (since Messi in 2015) for a Blaugrana to sit in the first youth squad.