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Golden Boy past winners: Mbappe, Sterling & best young players' careers

19:27 GMT+3 29/11/2018
Golden Boy Past Winners header
Goal takes a look at past winners of the Golden Boy award ahead of the 2018 winner announcement in December

The 2018 winner of the Golden Boy will be announced on December 17, with previous recipients of the award having gone on to achieve global success at both personal and club level.

Honouring notable players who are under the age of 21 – or born in 1998 or later – the Golden Boy identifies the best young talents across European football.

Kylian Mbappe is the most recent honouree of the award, which was established by Italian media outlet Tuttosport, with the winner decided by 30 football journalists from across Europe.

Goal takes a look at past winners of the prize, as well as what their career looked like after scooping up the award...


  • Kylian Mbappe PSG Lille

    Kylian Mbappe - 2017 winner

    The most recent Golden Boy winner has already become a household name worldwide. The young France international has gone from strength to strength for both club and country, part of an irresistible attacking force at PSG and an integral player for the French national team.

    Mbappe won the Best Young Player award at the World Cup where he scored in the 4-2 win over Croatia in the final, a tournament that catapaulted him to world-class status at just 19 years old. 

  • Renato Sanches Euro 2016 Portugal

    Renato Sanches - 2016 winner

    Having come through the Benfica ranks and then securing a €35m move to Bayern Munich in 2016, Sanches' definitive career moment was becoming the youngest player to score in a European Championships knockout phase in 2016.

    Sanches was awarded the Young Player of the Tournament award for his performance in the Euros, but was loaned to Swansea City in 2017 for an unsuccessful season, after which he returned to Bayern.

  • Anthony Martial Monaco

    Anthony Martial - 2015 winner

    Martial's growth has a footballer has been impressive since leaving Monaco in 2015 for £36m for Manchester United, and is the third Red Devil to scoop up the award.

    Unknown when he signed for Man Utd, the 19-year-old justified his price tag when he scored on his debut against Liverpool in a 3-1 win. He endured a difficult second season and a near-departure from the club following his third term at Old Trafford, however, as well as tension with manager Jose Mourinho.

  • Raheem Sterling Liverpool Premier League 13042015

    Raheem Sterling - 2014 winner

    Sterling emerged as a young star first at Liverpool, breaking through to the first team from the club's academy courtesy of Kenny Dalglish. The England international was a key force during Liverpool's push for the title race in 2013-14 and it was his talents in the final third that caught the eye of Man City, who signed him in in 2015.

    Since movigng to the Etihad, he has been vital in Pep Guardiola's side – most recently winning the Premier League.

  • Paul Pogba Juventus

    Paul Pogba - 2013 winner

    Pogba won four Serie A titles during his time at Juventus as well as the U20 World Cup with France, and featured in the 2015 Champions League final, the Euro 2016 final and won the World Cup in 2018.

    He hasn't quite managed to replicate his successes at Old Trafford, however, falling into repeated clashes with manager Mourinho, despite his stellar form for the France national team.

  • Isco celebrates scoring for Malaga (Goal 50)

    Isco - 2012 winner

    Isco was a Malaga player when he was awarded the Golden Boy award in 2012, and was part of the side that reached the 2013 Champions League quarter-finals but were beaten narrowly by Dortmund.

    The Spaniard joined Real Madrid afterwards and, after an initial spell as a benchwarmer, proved to become an integral member of the squad – winning three Champions League titles, a La Liga and a Copa del Rey.

  • Martio Gotze Borussia Dortmund 01112017

    Mario Gotze – 2011 winner

    Gotze was a star during his first spell at Dortmund when he won the Golden Boy award, winning two league titles and helping his side reach the 2013 Champions League final (though he missed it due to injury).

    After moving to Bayern Munich, he scooped up three more Bundesliga honours and scored the winner for Germany in the 2014 World Cup final, before returning to Dortmund in 2016.

  • Mario Balotelli e Walter Samuel in Milan-Inter

    Mario Balotelli - 2010 winner

    Balotelli emerged as a star during his time at Inter under Jose Mourinho, where he won the Champions League, and got off to a good start at Manchester City – before it all turned pear-shaped.

    He then made the move to Nice following unsucessful spells at Milan and Liverpool, though he remains a part of the Italy squad.

  • Alexandre Pato AC Milan

    Alexandre Pato - 2009 winner

    Pato was pegged to be the next big thing when signing for AC Milan from Internacional in 2007. He won the Serie A in the 2010-11 season, but was blighted by injuries and returned to Brazil in 2013.

    He returned to Europe for a loan spell with Chelsea that proved unsuccessful, and has since been playing for Chinese side Tianjin Quanjian since 2017.

  • Anderson Manchester United

    Anderson - 2008 winner

    Manchester United paid Porto £20m for Anderson in 2007, but the midfielder failed to live up to his price tag during his eight years at Old Trafford.

    Though injuries prevented him from hitting the heights expected of him, he won the Champions League and four Premier League titles with the Red Devils before moving to Internacional in 2015.

  • Sergio Aguero - Atletico Madrid

    Sergio Aguero - 2007 winner

    Atletico Madrid have a knack for churning out forwards who would become world-class in their own right – Fernando Torres, Diego Costa – and Aguero is no exception.

    After moving from the Liga side to Manchester City, the Argentine has emerged as one of the best strikers in the world – his most memorable effort coming against QPR in 2012 that clinched the Premier League title in the most dramatic of fashions.

  • Cesc Fabregas, Arsenal

    Cesc Fabregas - 2006 winner

    Fabregas broke through the Arsenal academy ranks at 16 and during his time in north London established himself as one of the world's top young midfielders.

    After captaining the Gunners and winning the FA Cup in 2005, he returned to boyhood side Barcelona in 2011 in search of silverware – but returned to England in 2014 with Chelsea, winning two Premier League titles.

  • Lionel Messi Ronaldinho Barcelona 2005

    Lionel Messi - 2005 winner

    Is there anything left to be said of Lionel Messi that hasn't been said already?

    At 31, the Argentine superstar continues to show no signs of slowing down, and has cemented the status of 'G.O.A.T.' permanently. He is a five-time winner of the Ballon d'Or - a joint record with nemesis Cristiano Ronaldo - and has etched himself into football lore.

  • Wayne Rooney Everton 2004

    Wayne Rooney – 2004 winner

    Rooney was a household name even before he graduated from the Everton academy ranks and earned himself a £27m move to Manchester United in 2004 where he enjoyed wave after wave of success on both club and personal level – scooping up five Premier League titles and a Champions League honour. 

    He remains England's top-scorer and, after a brief stint back at Everton, is now plying his trade at MLS side D.C. United.

  • Rafael van der Vaart Ajax 2003

    Rafael van der Vaart - 2003 winner

    The former Dutch international looked certain to have a bright football career after winning the inaugural Golden Boy award at Ajax, but failed to pick up any silverware after signing for Real Madrid in 2008 from Hamburg.

    He shone for Tottenham in 2010, but the spell didn't last long, returning to Hamburg in 2012. He recently announced his retirement from the game.