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U17 World Cup

Top Five: African Stars to come from the Fifa U17 World Cup

13:56 SAST 2019/10/23
John Obi Mikel Nigeria 2018
Profiling five African players who first burst onto the scene at the Fifa U17 World Cup

Africa will have four representatives at the 2019 FIFA U-17 World Cup to be staged in Brazil starting this month and Goal's Sandile Ndumo takes a look at some of the finest African talents who cut their teeth at the same event in the yesteryears.

  • Nii Lamptey 2

    1991: Nii Lamptey

    The Ghanaian came to prominence in the 1991 Under-17 World Cup, where he was player of the tournament ahead of household names like Alessandro Del Piero and Juan Veron. He became a global phenomenon and was dubbed ‘The new Pele’. A tag that failed to inspire him as personal tragedy, exploitation – everything football stars are not supposed to suffer – followed him around, and he has become a byword, unjustly, for failure.
  • William Troost-Ekong & John Obi Mikel of Nigeria

    2003: John Obi Mikel

    After cutting his teeth at the 2003 edition in Finland, Mikel went on to become one of Africa's successful football stories, featuring and captaining Nigeria in the Olympic Games and senior World Cup in Russia 2018. 

    At the 2005 Fifa World Youth Championship, Mike won the Silver Ball for the second-best player at the tournament - behind Lionel Messi - as the Flying Eagles finished runners-up to Argentina.

    Soon after featuring at these events, Mikel had Manchester United and Chelsea involved in an off the field battle to sign him and would eventually end up at Chelsea where he spent over a decade. 

    He has won two Premier League titles, a Europa League and Champions League title. 

  • Bertrand Traore - Burkina Faso

    2009: Bertrand Traore

    Following in Mikel's footsteps was Burkina Faso's Traore.

    Traore was only 14 at the edition hosted by Nigeria in 2009, but his exploits were enough to see him earmarked by Chelsea who later signed him from Auxerre.

    He later duplicated his earlier exploits at the U17 Nations Cup in 2011, where he was influential as Burkina Faso defeated Rwanda in the final. The versatile forward scored three goals during that tournament, including a double against Egypt in a memorable 4-0 victory.

    At Chelsea, he managed 10 league appearances during the 2015-16 season.

    Since 2017, he’s been at Ligue 1 giants Olympique Lyonnais, having reached the Europa League final while on loan at Ajax in 2017.

  • Kelechi Iheanacho Nigeria

    2013: Kelechi Iheanacho

    Golden Eaglets' Iheanacho won the Golden Ball award as the best player of the same event in 2013 where he scored six goals and provided seven assists.

    His exploits secured him a dream move to Manchester City, where he was a League Cup winner in 2016 before being squeezed out by the arrival of Pep Guardiola and subsequently, Gabriel Jesus.

    Since then, the 23-year-old has been attempting to get his career back on track at Leicester City.

  • Victor Osimhen - Nigeria U17

    2015: Victor Osimhen

    Osimhen is another Nigerian who burst onto the scene at the U17 World Cup. 

    He was part of the squad that won the U17 World Cup in Chile in 2015, where he was the recipient of both the Golden Boot and the Silver Ball awards.

    To cap off a memorable year, he also claimed the Caf Youth Player of the Year award in 2015.

    He’s currently in the books of Ligue 1 side Lille