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Zlatan Ibrahimovic 2002.

FourFourTwo’s list of the Top 100 Young Players from 2001

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Football is such an entertaining sport and so popular across the world partly because of its unpredictable nature.

You can have all the knowledge in the world but that doesn’t mean you can always correctly predict the result of a match, which team will win a certain tournament, or which young players will go on to fulfil their potential.

But we all try to guess what the future has in store for us. Predictions are part of the fun and each and every football fan has had mixed success.

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Football magazines are no different.

FourFourTwo is one of the best-selling football mags around and, back in 2001, they released a list of the top 100 young players in the world. But who featured on that list and, crucially, what happened to them?

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FourFourTwo’s Top 100 Young Players from 2001 (per Bleacher Report).

100. Alexander Hleb (AM, Stuttgart)

Decent shout to kick us off with. Alexander Hleb went on to play for Arsenal and Barcelona.

Alexander Hleb of Stuttgart

99. David Prutton (D/MF, Nottingham Forest)

Decent enough career but most famous for pushing referee Alan Wiley during his Southampton days.

98. Erdal Kilicaslan (CFWD, Bayern Munich)

Failed to make the grade with Bayern. Erdal Kilicaslan has spent most of his career in the Turkish leagues.

97. Daniyel Cimen (LB/CB, Eintracht Frankfurt)

Didn’t achieve much during his career. Now the manager of Rot-Weiss Frankfurt.

96. Benjamin Auer (CFWD, Borussia M'Gladbach)

Failed to make a career for himself at the highest level.

95. Kaka (AM, Sao Paulo)

Winner of the 2007 Ballon d’Or award.

Soccer player Kaka Leita, of the Brazilian Under-2

94. Azar Karadas (CFWD/CB, Brann Bergen)

Made 10 appearances for Norway and played for Rosenborg and Benfica, among other clubs.

93. Shaun Maloney (STR, Celtic)

The Scottish winger has enjoyed a decent career. Currently with Hull City.

92. Leonardo Santiago (L/WNG, Feyenoord)

Went on to play for Ajax and left Newcastle Jets earlier this year.

91. Kieran Richardson (L/WNG, Manchester United)

Big reputation but failed to make the grade at Old Trafford.

Kieran Richardson of Manchester United and Jermaine Jenas of Newcastle United

90. Aldo Jara (FWD, Cerro Portano)

Never moved to Europe.

89. Keith Kelly (CM, PSG)

Left PSG and returned to his native Jamaica.

88. Christoph Preuss (RWB, Eintract Frankfurt)

Had a pretty good career in the Bundesliga, but didn’t set the world alight.

87. Ramon Calliste (STR, Manchester United)

The man dubbed ‘the next Ryan Giggs’ in the early 2000s ended up playing for the likes of Farnborough and Cambridge City.

86. Mika Vayrynen (AM, FC Jokerit)

Made 64 international appearances for Finland and played for several big clubs including PSV and Leeds United.

85. Michael Zepek (CM, Bayer Leverkusen)

Spent his career in Germany but couldn’t live up to the early promise.

84. Labinot Harbuzi (AM, Malmo FF)

Signed by Feyenoord in 2002 but didn’t make a single first-team appearance for the Dutch club.

83. Thijs Houwing (CFWD, Twente)

Another one who failed to live up to expectations.

82. Dimitar Berbatov (STR, Bayer Leverkusen)

Classy forward who went on to play for Tottenham and Manchester United.

Dimitar Berbatov

81. Tuomas Aho (CB, My-Pa)

Didn’t leave Scandinavian football.

80. Candido Costa (AM, Porto)

Made 25 appearances for the Portugal Under-21s but never made his debut for the senior side.

79. Andres Oliveira (STR/FWD, Perth Glory)

Linked to Bolton in the early 2000s but never found his way to the Premier League.

78. Michael Essien (D/MF, Bastia)

Went on to become one of the world’s best central midfielders. Good shout, FFT.

Ghanaian national football team midfield

77. Fernando Macedo Nano (L/WNG, Barcelona)

Spent a few years with Atletico Madrid after leaving Barcelona in 2003.

76. Dulee Johnson (STR, BK Hacken)

Made 35 appearances for Liberia between 2001 and 2016.

75. Mauro Rosales (R/WNG, Newell's Old Boys)

Played for Argentina 10 times. Has been playing in Major League Soccer since 2011.

74. Derek Boateng (AM, Panathinaikos)

Played for several clubs in La Liga and spent time with Fulham in the Premier League. Forty-six caps for Ghana to his name.

73. Theo Janssen (LM, Vitesse)

Spent most of his career playing in the Eredivisie.

72. Hassan Ahamada (LWNG/STR, Nantes)

Former France Under-21 international who currently plays for USJA Carquefou.

71. Cherno Samba (CFWD, Millwall)

Championship Manager legend whose career never really took off.

70. Matteo Brighi (CM, Juventus)

Made four appearances for Italy and played for AS Roma and Torino.

69. Bojan Djordjic (L/WNG, Manchester United)

Big talent but ultimately not good enough for Man United.

Jermaine Pennant Bojan Djordjic

68. Andreas Hinkel (RB/RWB, Stuttgart)

Enjoyed a decent spell at Stuttgart before joining Sevilla and then Celtic.

67. Santino Quaranta (STR, DC United)

Spent his entire career in America and retired in 2011.

66. Jhon van Beukering (STR, Vitesse)

One cap for Indonesia. Retired in 2012.

65. Eddie Johnson (STR, Dallas Burn)

Scored 19 goals in 63 matches for the United States.

64. Michael Chopra (STR, Newcastle)

Most famous for his spells at Cardiff City and Sunderland.

Michael Chopra of Newcastle United runs with the ball

63. Rubinho (GK, Corinthians)

Former Brazil Under-20 international who has spent the previous four years with Italian giants Juventus.

62. Mark Fotheringham (C/MF, Celtic)

Retired earlier this year after a brief spell at Livingston.

61. Johnnier Montano (AM/FWD, Parma-on loan to Verona)

Made six appearances for Colombia between 1999 and 2003.

60. Serhat Akin (STR, Fenerbahce)

Joined Anderlecht in 2005 and made 16 appearances for Turkey.

59. Carlos Martins (CM, Sporting Lisbon)

Two goals in 17 appearances for the Portuguese national team.

58. Filip Trojan (L/WNG, Schalke 04)

Finished his career with Dynamo Dresden in 2014.

57. Ricardo Costa (CB, FC Porto)

Played for Valencia between 2010 and 2014.

56. Landon Donovan (STR, San Jose Earthquakes)

Arguably the greatest American soccer player of all time.

Landon Donovan (20) of the US drives Tyrone Marsha

55. Alexander Ludwig (L/WNG, Werder Bremen)

Went on to play for Dynamo Dresden and St. Pauli.

54. Lourenco Da Silva (FWD/LWNG, Sporting Lisbon)

Made one appearance for the Angolan national team.

53. Francesco Tarantino (LB/CB, Athletic Bilbao)

Spent his career floating between the top two tiers of Spanish football.

52. Jeremie Aliadiere (STR, Arsenal)

Enjoyed his best goalscoring spell with Lorient between 2011 and 2014.

Jeremie Aliadiere of Arsenal

51. Gatti Ribeiro (RWB, Blooming)

God knows what happened to Gatti Ribeiro. Answers on a postcard, please.

50. Massimo Donati (DM, AC Milan)

Spent a couple of years with Celtic in 2007.

49. Francesco Lodi (AM, Empoli/Parma)

Played for Catania, Genoa and Udinese.

48. Gael Givet (CB/LB, Monaco)

Made 12 appearances for France and spent four years with Blackburn Rovers.

47. Ewerthon (STR/FWD, Borussia Dortmund)

Averaged a goal every other game at his peak while playing for Borussia Dortmund and then Real Zaragoza.

46. Christian Petereit (RB/CB, Schalke 04)

His career never really took off.

45. Niko Kranjcar (AM/CFWD, Dinamo Zagreb)

Scored 16 goals in 81 appearances for Croatia and one of Harry Redknapp’s favourite players.

Niko Kranjcar

44. Jay Lucas (CFWD, Southampton)

Made headlines in 2001 when he signed for Southampton, but failed to live up to the hype.

43. Diego Ribas (AM, Santos)

A player of immense quality, Diego played for Juventus and Atletico Madrid.

42. Joaquin Sanchez (L/WNG, Real Betis)

Real Betis legend who returned to the Spanish club last year.

41. Ahmed 'Mido' Hossam (STR/LWNG, Ajax)

Hot-headed striker who went on to play for AS Roma and Tottenham.

Egypt's Ahmed Hossam (R) challenges Senegal's Hadi

40. Helder Postiga (STR, Porto)

Flopped at Tottenham but has scored 27 goals in 71 appearances for Portugal.

39. Emiliano S. Dudar (CB, Velez Sarsfield)

Didn’t turn into the top defender some people in Argentina predicted.

38. Chris Kirkland (GK, Liverpool)

Good goalkeeper but a succession of injuries hindered his career.

37. Ednilson (AM, Benfica Lisbon)

A few years at Benfica was as good as it got for Ednilson.

36. Dean Ashton (CFWD, Crewe Alexandra)

Good Premier League striker whose career was tragically cut short by injury in 2009.

35. Zlatan Ibrahimovic (CFWD, Ajax)

One of the best strikers of his generation, currently playing for Manchester United.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

34. Leandro Romagnoli (AM, San Lorenzo)

Made one appearance for Argentina.

33. Hassan Yebda (DM, Auxerre)

Joined Benfica in 2008 and had loan spells at Portsmouth and Napoli.

32. Marat Izmailov (AM/FWD, Lokomotiv Moscow)

Former Russia international who played for Sporting and Porto.

31. Gareth Barry (LB, Aston Villa)

On course to surpass Ryan Giggs as the player with the most Premier League appearances.

30. Jermain Defoe (STR, West Ham United)

Quality England centre-forward who is still banging in the goals in the Premier League.

Charlton v West Ham X

29. Gregory Vignal (LB, Liverpool)

Career at Liverpool failed to take off.

28. Julio Colombo (CB, Montpellier)

Ended up going to prison last year following a police anti-drug operation.

27. Arjen Robben (L/WNG, Groningen/PSV Eindhoven)

World-class winger who went on to play for Chelsea, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich.

Arjen Robben of PSV Eindhoven

26. Hugo Viana (CM, Sporting Lisbon)

Didn’t happen for him at Newcastle and then spent five years with Valencia.

25. Maicon (RWB, Cruzeiro)

World-class full-back whose Kryptonite is Gareth Bale.

24. Ricardo Bernardo Quaresma (L/WNG, Sporting Lisbon)

A player who probably could have achieved more in his career given his immense talent. Still, he was part of the Portugal side that won Euro 2016 in the summer.

23. Fabricio Coloccini (CB, Milan/on loan to Alaves)

Spent eight years with Newcastle United and became the club’s captain.

22. Marius Niculae (STR, Sporting Lisbon)

Scored 15 goals in 43 matches for Romania.

21. Milan Baros (STR, Liverpool)

Was better for Czech Republic than any of his club sides. Finished as the top scorer at Euro 2004.

20. Andres Iniesta (AM, Barcelona)

One of the greatest Spanish players in history. Scorer of the winning goal in 2010 World Cup final.

Andres Iniesta of Barcelona

19. Baldo Di Gregorio (CB, Eintracht Frankfurt)

Didn’t achieve anything of note during his career.

18. Juan Andreu Melli (CM, Real Betis)

Stayed at Betis until 2010 and then joined Tenerife.

17. Johnny Heitinga (CB, Ajax)

Played 87 times for the Netherlands.

16. Philippe Mexes (CB, Auxerre)

Went on to play for AS Roma and AC Milan.

15. Kim Kallstrom (CM, BK Hacken)

Another Championship Manager legend who briefly played for Arsenal in 2014.

14. John Welsh (C/DM, Liverpool)

Failed to make a career for himself at the highest level.

13. Darren Fletcher (C/MF, Manchester United)

Despite early criticism, went on to become a Manchester United favourite. Spent a couple of years on the sidelines with ulcerative colitis but, against the odds, returned to action and now captains West Brom.

Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester United

12. David Odonkor (FWD, Borussia Dortmund)

Speedy winger who played 16 times for Germany.

11. Pedro Mantorras (STR, Benfica Lisbon)

Failed to make a big impact in European football.

10. Mourad Meghni (AM, Bologna)

A four-year spell at Lazio was the highlight of his career.

9. Anthony Le Tallec (AM/CFWD, Le Havre/Liverpool)

Displayed plenty of promise as a teenager but struggled to live up to expectations.

8. Piotr Trochowski (AM, FC Bayern Munich)

Spent six years with Hamburg before moving on to Sevilla.

7. Florent Sinama-Pongolle (STR, Le Havre/Liverpool)

Left Liverpool in 2006 and enjoyed a decent spell with Recreativo before moving to Atletico Madrid. His career didn’t really go anywhere after that.

Newcastle United v Liverpool

6. Rafael Van der Vaart (C/MF, Ajax)

Made 109 appearances for the Netherlands.

5. Jermaine Pennant (R/WNG, Arsenal)

Played for Birmingham, Liverpool, Real Zaragoza and Stoke City.

4. Fernando Jose Torres (STR, Atletico Madrid)

Atletico Madrid legend who tore up the Premier League with Liverpool before his ill-fated £50 million transfer to Chelsea in 2011. Now back at the Calderon.

Fernando Torres of Atletico Madrid

3. Leandro Bonfim (AM, Vitoria/PSV Eindhoven)

Briefly spent time with Porto between 2005 and 2007.

2. Andres D'Alessandro (AM, River Plate)

A brilliant left-footed playmaker who made 28 appearances for Argentina.

1. Djibril Cisse (STR, Auxerre)

Enjoyed a decent career, the highlight of which was scoring nine goals in 41 matches for France.

Djibril Cisse of France celebrates scoring the fou

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Topics:
Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Paris Saint-Germain
La Liga
Football
Premier League
World Cup
Andres Iniesta
UEFA Champions League
Fernando Torres

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