Golden Boy awards 2019: What has happened to the previous winners?


The shortlist for the 2019 European Golden Boy was announced earlier this week.

It's an award handed out to the young footballer playing in Europe perceived to have been the most impressive during the calendar year - only top tier players under 21 are eligible to win.

These are the 20 names that have made this year's shortlist:  

Matthijs de Ligt, Alphonso Davies, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Ansu Fati, Phil Foden, Matteo Guendouzi, Erling Haland, Kai Havertz, Joao Felix, Dejan Joveljic, Moise Kean, Kang-in Lee, Andrij Oleksijovyc, Danyell Malen, Mason Mount, Rodrygo, Jadon Sancho, Ferran Torres, Vinicius Jr, Nicolo Zaniolo.

The Golden Boy has been awarded every year since 2003, with the likes of Lionel Messi, Cesc Fabregas and Raheem Sterling scooping it in the past. 

But what has happened to every player who won? Did they all go on to conquer football, or did some fall short? 

GIVEMESPORT first asked that question back in 2016, but with two more players joining the elite list since, we've decided to take a fresh look at where they've all ended up. 

2003 - Rafael van der Vaart

The Dutchman made his name at Ajax after coming through their famous academy. After winning two league titles, he moved on for spells at Real Madrid and Tottenham. 

Despite playing for those two clubs, Van der Vaart never fully lived up to his full potential and retired in 2018 due to injury, after spells with Hamburg and Real Betis. 

Van der Vaart never really lived up to the hype

2004 - Wayne Rooney

Rooney shot to fame at Euro 2004, becoming the youngest goalscorer in the tournament’s history. The only way was up from there. 

The English striker went on to become the all-time top scorer for his club, Manchester United, and country. 

He won five Premier League titles at Old Trafford, as well as the Champions League, FA Cup and Europa League before returning to boyhood club Everton. Rooney is now tearing it up in MLS.

2005 - Lionel Messi

This was a very good pick and there's not really much to say. After scooping the award in 2005, Messi has gone on to become a player who many regard as the greatest of all-time. 

Messi is the GOAT

2006 - Cesc Fabregas

Fabregas won the Golden Boy award while at Arsenal.

Although he didn't win too much silverware there, he earned a move back to Barcelona and established himself as one of the best midfielders in the world. 

The Spaniard then returned to England with Chelsea, where he won a Premier League title. After leaving Stamford Bridge in 2019, he's playing out the final few years of his career at Monaco. 

2007 - Sergio Aguero 

After winning the award at Atletico Madrid, Aguero went on to become a legend at Manchester City.

He scored the famous goal that won City the title in 2012 and plenty more trophies have followed since then. By the time he departs Manchester, Aguero will be regarded as an all-time Premier League great. 

Aguero has lived up to the hype

2008 - Anderson

The first flop on the Golden Boy list. Anderson had joined United in 2007 with a massive buzz around him but failed to live up to it for long.

The Brazilian was underwhelming as issues over his form and fitness kept him out of the team for much of his eight years. 

After leaving Old Trafford, Anderson had spells at Internacional and Adana Demirspor before retiring a few months ago.  

2009 - Alexandre Pato

Pato was another Golden Boy who never quite cracked it. He was brilliant for AC Milan as a 20-year-old, but injuries saw a fall from grace. 

The Brazilian returned to his home nation and a poor spell at Chelsea followed before he moved to China with Tianjin Tianhai. In 2019, he's back in Brazil with Sao Paulo.  

Pato had a terrible spell at Chelsea

2010 - Mario Balotelli

In 2010, when he was just 20, Balotelli had won the treble with Inter Milan. He moved to Man City later that year and scooped the Golden Boy award. 

He's never quite reached those heights again but did find success in England with City, before a solid spell at Nice between 2016 and 2019. The Italian is now at Brescia. 

2011 - Mario Gotze

Even though Gotze scored the goal that won Germany the 2014 World Cup, it could be argued he hasn't lived up to his full potential.

The midfielder was on fire at Dortmund, but injuries ruined his spell at Bayern Munich. A return to Dortmund in 2016 has seen him get back on track, but he hasn't played for his national team since 2017. 

Gotze won the World Cup

2012 - Isco

Isco won the Golden Boy award at the age of 20, after swapping Valencia for Malaga. In 2013 he moved to Real Madrid but hasn't quite been able to take Los Blancos by storm.

He's been a solid midfielder at the Bernabeu, but it's unclear if he'll ever hold down a starting place there. Isco could be defined as a wasted talent, perhaps?

2013 - Paul Pogba

After quitting Man United in 2012, Pogba showed the world his talents at Juventus instead. After establishing himself as one of the best in the world, he returned to England for £89 million.

The Frenchman is still regarded as a top player, but his reputation has dropped a little over the last few seasons. 

Pogba has become one of the world's best

2014 - Raheem Sterling

Sterling was a talent at Liverpool when he won the award at 19 and he's become world-class at Man City while working under Pep Guardiola. 

He's one of the best forwards in the Premier League and at only 24, he could be challenging for the Ballon d'Or once Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi retire. 

2015 - Anthony Martial

Martial arrived at Old Trafford in 2015 and his impressive performances for Lyon saw him win the Golden Boy award after four months in England. 

However, his career has stalled slightly and although he's a top player, many expect there's more to come from the Frenchman. 

Martial's career has stalled a little

2016 - Renato Sanches

Like Rooney, Sanches made himself a household name at a European Championship tournament. 

He was called up for Euro 2016 at just 19 after impressing for Benfica and then moved to Bayern Munich.

But in Germany, he seriously flopped and was loaned out to Swansea, before being sold to Lille this year. At 22, he still has time to turn it around.   

2017 - Kylian Mbappe

Mbappe is the player that many believe will take the Ballon d'Or from Messi and Ronaldo once they pack it in. 

Still only 20, the Frenchman has won three Ligue 1 titles and was the star as his nation won the World Cup last year. He has a bright future ahead and will only get better. 

Mbappe has won the World Cup

2018 - Matthijs de Ligt

De Ligt captained Ajax during a stunning campaign that saw them win the domestic double in 2018/19. They also won the hearts of fans across Europe with a run to the Champions League semi-finals. 

A move to a bigger club was inevitable and Juventus stumped up €75m to bring him to Turin last summer. De Ligt hasn't made the most solid of starts, but his best years are still ahead of him. 

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