Stars of the future shine in Peru
Some of planet football's brightest stars first made their mark at the FIFA U-17 World Championship. The likes of Luis Figo, Alessandro Del Piero, Juan Verón and Ronaldinho have all graced the tournament, and Peru 2005 has also thrown up its fair share of potential geniuses. Read on as FIFA.com checks out some of the competition's stellar talents, players who seem destined to take their place in the footballing firmament.
When defending champions Brazil were in desperate trouble of going out of the tournament after their opening game defeat against Gambia, one young man managed to turn their fortunes around in the next match against the Netherlands. Anderson terrorised the Dutch, tearing down the flanks and swinging in crosses that left the Europeans in all sorts of trouble. Anderson has kept up that high level of performance since then, scoring one goal and playing a key role in others, notably when setting up Ramon for the first strike against Korea DPR in the quarter-final; an electrifying burst down the left which left the Koreans mesmerised.
David Arvizu (USA)
Measuring just 1.67m in height, David Arvizu is certainly not impressive in physical terms, but he more than makes up for his slight frame with his lightning quick vision. Above all, it is for his technical ability that he stands out, and he has emerged as the creative hub of a USA team whose principal strengths are physical power and organisation. He reads the game with daunting speed and has fed his attacking colleagues Ryan Soroka and Preston Zimmerman with more than a few telling through-balls. As a result, Italy are just one team who will long remember the turmoil the Pateadores player for his display during the group stages.
Momodou Ceesay (GAM)
After Brazil were beaten by Gambia in their opening match of Group D, everybody was talking about Momodou Ceesay. The giant striker stands at 1.95m, but for a tall man, he shows a surprising deft touch and is quick on the turn. He claimed two goals at Peru 2005 and a key role in Gambia's rollercoaster ride up to the heights of success and the depths of disappointment - not least when he missed a late penalty against the Netherlands that would have sent Gambia through to the last eight. How he responds to that experience will be crucial from here and though says he would like to play for Arsenal, it would be no great surprise to see him signed up by one of the great European sides at some stage further down the line.
Myong Ho Choe (PRK)
It is difficult to isolate any one individual from a Korea DPR side who have surprised everyone in the competition. Their sheer vivacity and their one-touch play, not to mention their collective strength, have seen them register results no one ever expected. When push comes to shove, though, Choe demands special attention for his impeccable finishing ability. And with three goals from four games, he has achieved all that was asked of him. Like the rest of his attacking brethren on the Korean team, he lacks an imposing physical presence, but he always gives 100%. Tireless as he leads the line, he knows the exact moment to call for the ball and so often finds himself in the right place at the right time. He has also won admirers for his excellent passing.
Wang Dalei (CHN)
The Chinese goalkeeper was a decisive factor in his side reaching the quarter-finals of the FIFA U-17 World Championship Peru 2005. His exploits in the opening game against Costa Rica turned out to be a sign of things to come. Against Peru, the 16-year-old brought off a number of extraordinary reflex saves that had host nation fans ruing their luck. After being sent off in the final group game he returned for the quarter-final clash against an excellent Turkish team, where, despite his best efforts, China went down 1-5. The cool-headed Wang, who commands his defence with consummate skill was short-listed for the AFC Young Player of the Year award.
Giovani Dos Santos (MEX)
The son of the famous Brazilian striker Zizinho, this quick-witted young forward exudes the pure talent you would expect from such a lineage. Now plying his trade with FC Barcelona, this left-footed double of Ronaldinho has thrilled the crowds in Peru with his electrifying runs and pinpoint passes. His stand-out performance so far came in the opening game against Uruguay when he set up both his side's goals with all the assurance of a veteran. Even Uruguay's national coach Jorge Fossati was moved to praise his skills following his trip to Peru: "A footballer of his quality makes all the difference in youth football. Very few players have what he has, and that's what sets Mexico apart from the rest."
Cesar Elizondo (CRC)
Though injury kept Cesar Elizondo from playing a leading role in all Costa Rica's games at the FIFA U-17 World Championship Peru 2005, the young midfielder did raise a few eyebrows with his exciting forays into his opponents' penalty area. He had only been on the pitch for six minutes in the deciding Group A game against tournament hosts Peru when he fired home a low shot that sent the Ticos into the quarter-finals. This pocket-sized dynamo boasts fabulous close control and a predator's instinct in the box. It was his header against Honduras in the play-offs that booked his team's passage to Peru.
Caner Erkin (TUR)
Erkin's tireless shuttling up and down the left flank has made him a vital cog in the Turkish machine. Currently on the books at Bayer Leverkusen in Germany, his main virtues are his searing pace and an eye for goal, although he is also a commanding presence in midfield. His strong character may have led to more than one on-field disagreement with his team-mates, but there is no questioning his importance in Abdullah Avci's side. With a gift for popping up in the right place at the right time, Erkin is currently Turkey's leading scorer with three goals: one against Mexico and two against the Chinese.
John Goossens (NED)
The Dutch team possesses a couple of promising strikers in Diego Biseswar and Marvin Emnes. Midfielder Jeffrey Sarpong has also shown his eye for the main chance, but the player who arguably eclipses them all is Ajax forward John Goossens. He has grabbed two goals at Peru 2005 already and would probably have claimed a third had he not worried Brazilian defender Sidnei so much with his pace that he looped the ball into his own net. Like all players of his age, Goossens has the potential to develop much more, but his emergence is another great credit to the famed Ajax youth system.
Tim Krul (NED)
From the moment he steps on the pitch, Newcastle United goalkeeper Tim Krul presents a commanding presence. Tall, lean and extremely agile, he is quite possibly the man who has done most to send the Netherlands as far as the semi-finals at Peru 2005. Despite conceding three against Qatar, he can justifiably point the finger of blame at his defenders for those goals. Against Brazil, Krul was simply awesome and though Holland lost the match, they had their goalkeeper to thank for keeping the margin of defeat to a minimum, a factor that ultimately proved decisive when the Netherlands progressed to the knock-out stages by the narrowest of margins.
In a team where talent shines all over the pitch, it is difficult to single out the best of their stars at Peru 2005, but one player pops up time and time again… particularly on the scoresheet. Flamengo striker Ramon has struck four times in four games at this championship and his prodigious eye for goal has been the scourge of defenders and goalkeepers alike. His pace and awareness in the penalty area marks him out for potential greatness and European defences had better watch out if, as expected, he makes a move across the Atlantic Ocean some time in the future, following the example of so many of his compatriots before him.
Nuri Sahin (TUR)
The youngest footballer ever to play in the Bundesliga arrived in Peru with the weight of expectation on his young shoulders. The Borussia Dortmund wunderkind is rising to the challenge, however, by orchestrating to perfection the attacking rhythm of a Turkey side that has waltzed into the semi-finals in its first ever appearance in the tournament. Blessed with superb vision, exquisite ball skills and an ability to make late runs into the box, this young number 10 has been tipped by many for a successful career in German football. His finest games in Peru have come against Australia, when he popped up with a late winner, and in the quarter-final against China in Iquitos, where he grabbed another goal to cap an outstanding performance as the Turks ran riot.
Carlos Vela (MEX)
Although he has not quite attracted the same column inches as his striking partner, the equally talented pint-sized striker from Chivas de Guadalajara has received most of the applause in Peru thanks to an enviable knack for scoring goals. The number nine, an ardent admirer of Ronaldo, has bagged no less than four goals in his three outings to date, including a brace against Australia. In the process, he has become Mexico's all-time leading scorer in a FIFA U-17 World Championship. His lethal finishing skills seem to run in the family: older brother Alejandro is currently enjoying a rich vein of goal-scoring form in Mexico's top flight. "When we set off for Peru, my aim was to become a world champion and be top scorer," he told FIFA.com. He is certainly on the right track.