Ronaldinho, Diego, Fernando Redondo, Carlos Tevez, Michael Essien, Nwankwo Kanu, Harry Kewell, Luis Figo and Xavi have all left indellible marks on the sport. For all their fame, of course, those celebrated players were far from household names at the outset of their careers, which took in starring roles at previous editions of the FIFA U-17 World Cup.
Another generation of burgeoning talents are about to follow in their footsteps and, with a week to go before Nigeria 2009, the official squad lists have been unveiled. In total, 504 players will be able to start dreaming of clinching the global title.
Click on the team pages or on the list of players (on the right) to see the official squads.
Each of the 24 teams through to the finals will select 21 players who are sure to benefit from the experience throughout the rest of their careers. At the most recent edition in Korea Republic two years ago, Germany's Toni Kroos made important strides that continue to help him as he lights up the Bundesliga, while Spain's Bojan Krkic has represented his country at senior level and lifted the UEFA Champions League trophy. Likewise, Brazilian twins Fabio and Rafael represent Manchester United in the Premier League, while French defender Mamadou Sakho has become a pillar at the back for Paris Saint-Germain.
So who will be the stars of 2009? Mexico's Bryan Leva, Argentina's Daniel Alberto Villalva, New Zealand's Chris Wood, Italy's Alessandro de Vitis and Switzerland's Nassim Ben Khalifa all boast top-flight experience despite their age, while their peers will be all hoping to use the global showcase to advance their professional careers.
If some go on to shine in the years to come, perhaps you will able to reflect: "I remember him when he was 17. He was incredible at the FIFA U-17 World Cup Nigeria 2009!" To have that chance, stay connected to FIFA.com, where you will be able to follow the competition up close.