The countdown is under way to the 75th Blue Stars/FIFA Youth Cup, which will be held at the Buchlern Sports Ground in the Altstetten area of Zurich over the Ascension Day holidays of 8 and 9 May. As always, the tournament will feature the best in youth talent from around the world. Three of the biggest Swiss clubs will also be taking part, as well as hosts FC Blue Stars Zurich.
The final of last year's event saw Zurich rivals Grasshoppers and FC Zurich go head to head, with the latter emerging victorious. To get to the final, the two teams had seen off strong competition from some of the biggest names in international football, including Borussia Monchengladbach, Porto, TP Mazembe from Congo, Panathinaikos, Zenit St. Petersburg and Besiktas.
The 2013 field is even more impressive, as is only fitting for the 75th anniversary of the tournament. And once again this year, the local teams will have to be at their very best in the face of stiff competition from abroad.
Manchester United (England)
This will be the 41st time that the youth team of the legendary Red Devils will be taking part.
Borussia Dortmund (Germany)
The club from the Ruhr has a storied tradition and are one of Bayern Munich's main rivals.
Botafogo FR (Brazil)
Back in 1991, the five-time Brazilian champions from Rio were the first non-European team to take part in the Blue Stars/FIFA Youth Cup.
Zenit St. Petersburg (Russia)
The 2008 UEFA Cup champions sent a strong team to Zurich last year.
Torino, who were Italy's star team of the 1950s, have always had a reputation for their excellent youth set-up.
WYNRS New Zealand
The WR in WYNRS stands for Wynton Rufer, the New Zealander who played in his father's native Switzerland for FC Zurich, Aarau and Grasshoppers and then went on to enjoy a fine career in the German Bundesliga with Werder Bremen.
Grasshopper Club Zurich
FC Zurich (defending champions)
FC Blue Stars Zurich
This will be the 75th time that the world's top teams will be sending their best youth players to Zurich. The tournament's motto – "Where Stars Are Born" – is certainly an apt one, with plenty of budding talents making their bows at the Blue Stars/FIFA Youth Cup over the years before going on to greater things.
Half of England's FIFA World Cup™-winning squad of 1966 played at the Blue Stars/FIFA Youth Cup, including such legends as Bobby Charlton, Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst, Nobby Stiles and Martin Peters. The incomparable George Best, Barcelona's 2010 FIFA World Cup and 2012 UEFA European Championship winner Gerard Pique and the legendary David Beckham all came to Zurich as youngsters to take part.
Plenty of big names from the Bundesliga also started out at the Blue Stars/FIFA Youth Cup, including Klaus Augenthaler, Helmut Haller (who unfortunately passed away last October), Mirko Votava, Christian Nerlinger, Markus Babbel and Jay-Jay Okocha, not to mention soon-to-be Bayern-Munich coach Pep Guardiola.
Closer to home, a host of Swiss stars have obviously been involved in past Blue Stars/FIFA Youth Cups, with current and recent internationals Xherdan Shaqiri, Ricardo Cabanas, Hakan Yakin, Diego Benaglio and Alex Frei just a few of many examples.
And speaking of big names of Swiss football, a certain Joseph S. Blatter played in the 1955 Blue Stars/FIFA Youth Cup for FC Siders, before going on to become President of FIFA!
Clink on the link in the right-hand menu bar for the match schedule of the 75th Blue Stars/FIFA Youth Cup.