Mexico’s smashing 2-0 victory over Uruguay in the final of the 2011 FIFA U-17 World Cup was the perfect ending for the lively and talented home side. The euphoria seemed to spill over into the voting for the best players of the competition at the Estadio Azteca, with local media sending their favourite local heroes home with the top three honours.
Midfielder Julio Gomez – star of the semi-final win over Germany – was handed the adidas Golden Ball as top player while his teammates Jorge Espericueta and striker Carlos Fierro picked up the Silver and Bronze Balls respectively. Ivorian striker extraordinaire Souleymane Coulibaly held out as the top finisher, his nine goals enough to scoop the adidas Golden Shoe.
adidas Golden Ball: Julio Gomez (Mexico)
It is no wonder why his boss at club side Pachuca has already used attacking midfielder Gomez in a first-team game in Mexico’s top flight. With a balance of vision, rugged determination and stomach for the fight, the Tampico-born man played a crucial role in putting the home side into the final. He opened the scoring in the semi-final against Germany, set-up the second and then grabbed the game-winner with a stunning overhead kick. The feat was all the more impressive considering he suffered a head injury in the game that required seven stitches.
adidas Silver Ball: Jorge Espericueta (Mexico)
The Tigres player was a solid rock in the heart of Mexico’s midfield throughout their glory run. As good a passer as he is on the defensive end of things, he was the quiet inspiration in a team that played fluid and free-flowing football for the last month. Although he only scored two goals at the finals, they were crucial ones against Germany in the semis and Congo in the first round.
adidas Bronze Ball: Carlos Fierro (Mexico)
One of the true standouts on a Mexican team loaded with talent, the Chivas Guadalajara youngster was always dangerous in front of goal. Slight of build but brave of heart, the Sinaloa-born forward, who models himself on current Manchester United ace and former club-mate Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez, had a knack for getting into dangerous positions and finishing with aplomb.
adidas Golden Glove: Jonathan Cubero (Uruguay)
The FIFA Technical Study Group (TSG) awarded Uruguayan goalkeeper Jonathan Cubero the adidas Golden Glove for best goalkeeper in the tournament. Solid, tall and with an uncanny positional sense, the Cerro man helped Uruguay earn their reputation as the meanest defence at these finals, only conceding five goals in his team’s seven games.
adidas Golden Shoe: Souleymane Coulibaly (Côte d'Ivoire)
One of ten forwards listed in the Côte d'Ivoire squad, the Siena-based ace stood head-and-shoulders above the crowd. His haul of nine goals is a record-equaling feat, tying previous tournament top scorer Florent Sinama Pongolle, who reached the milestone with three more games ten years ago. With a fierce combination of pace, power, deadly finishing and overall panache, Coulibaly scored all four in a smashing 4-2 win over Denmark. The youngster kept the momentum with a hat-trick in a thrilling 3-3 draw with Brazil. He scored again as the Elephants ran out of gas in a round-of-16 loss to France. Scoring nine of his side’s ten goals, Coulibaly surely looks a player with a bright future.
adidas Silver Shoe: Samed Yesil (Germany)
With a poacher’s vision and deadly finishing skills, Yesil – who lines up in the youth team for Bayer Leverkusen - was one of the great all-around strikers at these finals. In a German side that scored goals for fun, Yesil stood out among his mates as the team bagged 24 goals in the space of their seven games. Finding the seams among even the tightest defences, Yesil’s speed, elegant touch and nose for goal saw him score six goals (and set up a further five) in a tournament where the Germans finished third.
adidas Bronze Shoe: Adryan (Brazil)
His two goals against Germany in the match for third place saw Adryan pip his free-scoring teammate Ademilson to the third-top scorer prize. Known more as a metronome in the Brazilian side, prodding and probing from the playmaker’s position, the Flamengo starlet showed that he could also find the back of the net when needed, scoring no fewer than five times.
FIFA Fair Play award: Japan
The Japanese not only put on some stylish performances en route to the quarter-finals, but they played with a consistent devotion to the precepts of fair play. Wowing the crowds with their short-passing game, the young Nippon can hold their heads high as the fairest team at these finals.