Some of these players have gone on to be called true greats of the game.

Every year a relatively unknown young footballer is awarded the Golden Boy for his performance in the year. Borussia Dortmund starlet Erling Braut Haaland was conferred the prestigious honour in 2020 for his spectacular performances for the German giants.

The Norwegian marksman was the 18th recipient of the award, since it began in 2003. Earlier, Italian football outlet Tuttosport used to decide the winner, however, currently it is done in a more democratic way with the representatives of elite media houses across Europe nominate the footballers aged 21 or less. 

Each media outlet is allowed to nominate five players and are scored in decreasing order with the scores of 10,7,5,3 and 1. The player with the most number of votes is declared as the winner.

Over the years, 18 different players have received the award but only a few of them have displayed consistency to have made it into the FifPro World XI. Here are five footballers who made it to the FIFA World XI after winning  the Golden boy award.

5. Paul Pogba

The French midfielder came into the limelight during his time at Juventus.  He won a number of titles with the Serie A outfit and was one of the important catalysts for the success of the team during that time.

The midfielder spent his youth career at Manchester United but couldn’t find a place in the team and moved to Italy. In 2015, he was awarded the Golden Boy honour after his consistent performances for France and Juventus. 

In 2016, he moved back to Manchester United in what was then-record transfer fee of €105 million. 

4. Matthijs De Ligt 

The Dutch defender made his senior debut for Ajax in 2016 at the age of 17. He scored a goal from a corner after just 25 minutes of his debut. In the same season he started for Ajax in the Europa league final against Manchester United, becoming the youngest player ever to start in a major European final. Although his team lost the final in Stockholm, the young defender cemented his place for the team.

 Looking at his meteoric rise and his presence in the dressing room, he was given the captain’s armband in the 2018-19 season, aged 19. In the same year, he became the first and only defender to win the Golden Boy award and was also nominated in the FIFA World XI. 

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Under his captaincy, Ajax claimed a domestic double as well as reached the semi final of the UEFA Champions League, where they went down against Tottenham Hotspurs in the dying moments of the second leg. 

3. Wayne Rooney

White Pele, as he was often called during his career, burst into the scene as a 16 -year-old forward playing for Everton. In his first stint till 2004, Rooney notched up 15 goals in 67 games which is considered remarkable at that age. In 2004, he moved to English giants Manchester United. Ever since, he grew as a player and was one of the mainstays for Manchester United for years.

Rooney won the Golden Boy award in 2004 and made it into the FIFA World XI in 2011, when Manchester United claimed a Premier League title as well as reached the final of UEFA Champions League.

2. Kylian Mbappe

France has produced a number of talents in recent years but none of them come close to Kylian Mbappe. Considered as the next big thing in football, Kylian is a world champion at the age of 21 and broke more than a handful of records in his short yet successful career. 

The AS Monaco academy graduate helped his team break the winning streak of PSG in the 2016-17 before eventually joining them after the completion of the season. He won the Golden Boy award in 2017 and was nominated in the FiFPro XI for two consecutive years in 2018 and 2019.

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1. Lionel Messi

The man who needs no introduction. The Barcelona skipper and talisman Lionel Messi won the Golden Boy award in 2005 and has been the most successful of all the 18 recipients. The Argentine has broken many records in his career including the record of six Ballon d’Or trophies. 

The all time top scorer of FC Barcelona has made it into FIFPro XI for 14 consecutive years, a feat only rivalled by Cristiano Ronaldo apart from him.

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