A day after the official unveiling of the logo for the FIFA U-17 World Cup Nigeria 2009, we must remember that over a year has passed since the world's finest young talents strutted their stuff at Korea 2007, the competition's most recent edition. FIFA.com takes a look at the players who have made the biggest impact in their short careers so far.
One of the brightest prodigies to emerge from Korea was Nigerian striker Macauley Chrisantus. The powerful target man fired seven goals for the Golden Eaglets, which was enough to earn him the prestigious adidas Golden Shoe award, following in the footsteps of Fernando Torres and Alberto Aquilani. In fact, this impressive strike rate was enough to persuade Hamburg to splash out £1 million for his services in 2008 and he will be looking to make his mark in the first team during the remainder of the season.
Germany's Toni Kroos was voted the tournament's adidas Golden Ball winner after receiving 26 per cent of the votes from accredited journalists who attended the final two matches. The highly-rated attacking midfielder notched five goals in Asia and is widely tipped to become one of Bayern Munich's star players in the near future. The 19-year-old starlet underlined people's expectations in October 2007 when he came off the bench to score Bayern's winner in their crucial UEFA Cup tie against Red Star Belgrade.
Another of Germany's stellar performers was Bayer Leverkusen's powerful 6ft 2 inch striker Richard Sukuta-Pasu, who claims his strong and aggressive style of play has been based on Chelsea's Didier Drogba and Bayern Munich's Lukas Podolski. Last season the teenager notched a remarkable 18 goals in 22 games for Bayer's youth team, as well as striking three goals on the way to winning the UEFA U-19 European Championship in July 2008.
Mamadou Sakho, the French defender, has been a revelation since returning from the tournament. He made his first-team and Ligue 1 debut on October 20, 2007 against Valenciennes FC. On that day, Sakho also captained the squad. He became the youngest ever captain of Paris Saint Germain and also the youngest player ever to captain a side in the French Ligue 1, at 17 years and eight months.
It should also be mentioned that several members of the Peruvian side that reached the quarter-finals went on to represent their country at the recent CONMEBOL U-20 Championships. The most notable of these is Reimond Manco who has since signed a five-year contract with PSV Eindhoven. Manco has already made his debut in the UEFA Champions League and won full international recognition when Jose del Solar called him up for the friendly against Bolivia in February 2008.
Ghana's lively strike pairing of Ransford Osei and Sadick Adams hit ten goals as they led the Black Starlets to a fourth-place finish. The pair's performances meant they were scouted by clubs all around Europe and were recognised by World Soccer Magazine in the 50 most exciting teenagers on the planet. Their goalscoring exploits in Asia alerted a number of the world's top clubs and in 2008 Atletico Madrid snapped up Adams on a pre-contract agreement. Although, it was his diminutive partner, Osei, who has made the headlines since joining Israeli giants Maccabi Haifa, poaching six league goals so far in his debut season.
Arguably the player who has gone on to achieve the most since the 2007 tournament is Barcelona and Spain international, Bojan Krkic. The striker was instrumental in his country's run to the final, where they lost on penalties to Nigeria. However, it could have been a very different story for his country, if Bojan had not picked up a booking in the semi-final and therefore missed the final.
Despite this setback he has figured regularly for Barca since his debut in September 2007, scoring 17 goals in 72 appearances. He also became the club's youngest ever scorer, opening his account against Villarreal on his first league start. Another record was broken when he finished the 2007/08 season with ten goals, eclipsing the accolade Raul had held for the most goals scored in a debut season. Bojan received his first senior international cap when he came off the bench against Armenia in September 2008 at the age of just 18 years and 13 days.
Argentina have produced some of the world's most exciting talents in recent years, with the likes of Carlos Tevez, Sergio Aguero and Lionel Messi starring in European football. Other players from the U-17 side at Korea that have shown signs of following in these footsteps include, Franco Zuculini and Eduardo Salvio. Zuculini has established himself as a mainstay in Racing Clubs starting 11 and has even scored his first goal for his local team.
Argentine national coach Diego Maradona recently selected Zuculini in a squad of 14 local players for a training camp with the full squad. Salvio has gone on to make his debut for Lanus against Boca Juniors in August last year, scoring four goals in 14 games already this season. Another South American who has gone on to brighter things since 2007 is Colombian U-20 international Ricardo Chara, whose impressive performances in Korea prompted Italian side Udinese to snap him up.
Opponents must have thought they were seeing double when identical twins Rafael and Fabio da Silva burst on to the scene in their first match against New Zealand in Korea. The two shone playing on opposite flanks as rampaging wingbacks and such enterprise saw Brazil smash 14 goals in the group stages, with two coming from skipper, Fabio. They were surprisingly knocked out by Ghana in the last 16 despite dominating the game, although it was evident that Manchester United had acquired two of the most promising young players in world football.
Fabio was widely tipped as being the more gifted of the two, but after picking up a shoulder injury his progress was halted, and he had to wait until last Saturday for his United debut against Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup. Rafael on the other hand, has made a fantastic start to his career with the English champions, scoring a superb volley at Arsenal and picking up a FIFA Club World Cup winners medal in Japan.
Another of their Manchester United team-mates, Danny Welbeck, also made a big impression in the tournament, scoring two goals for England in a 5-0 victory over New Zealand in the group stages. The 18-year-old has burst on the scene this season at Old Trafford, scoring a 30-yard thunderbolt in a 5-0 thrashing of Stoke City on his Premier League debut. He also showed he has the instincts of a natural born finisher when he reacted quickly to open the scoring against Southampton in the FA Cup third round tie a month later.
Finally, Dan Gosling, the engine in England's midfield has been snapped up by Premier League side Everton, for £1 million. The former Plymouth Argyle man has been handed his chance this season with a number of substitute appearances, and scored his first goal for his new club on his home debut against Sunderland. However, arguably the highlight of his career so far came when he experienced the blood and thunder of a Merseyside derby in the 1-1 FA Cup draw at Anfield.
It is still early days in all of these players' professional lives, but with the right guidance and experience, we can expect their careers, and perhaps more who appeared in Korea, to flourish over the coming months and years.