Van de Beek, Foden, Guardiola: Ball boys who became famous footballers

  • Rob Swan

After helping Manchester City record an empathic 4-1 win away at Liverpool last weekend, Phil Foden posted a tweet showing how far he’s come in recent years.

The 20-year-old, who is undoubtedly one of the best young players on the planet, tweeted two photos: one of him working as a ball boy during a City game, and the other of him scoring City’s fourth goal against Jurgen Klopp’s side.

Foden’s ‘How it started… How it’s going’ tweet soon went viral; however, he isn’t the only former ball boy who went on to become a famous footballer.

There are some cracking photos out there of household names in their younger years, watching on with dreams and aspirations of emulating their heroes.

For every aspiring young footballer out there, these images prove that realising the dream *is* possible.

Phil Foden

Let’s start with that tweet from Foden. Sat down with his arms folded, 14-year-old watches on as Stevan Jovetic celebrates scoring against Swansea City in November 2013.


Six years earlier, in 2007, Foden was one of City’s mascots for a Premier League fixture against Sunderland.

Little did City’s players know back then that they were in the presence of a future star.

Callum Hudson-Odoi

Remember when Samuel Eto’o scored a hat-trick for Chelsea against Manchester United in 2014?

Well, after Eto’o scored his third goal of the afternoon, he celebrated with a 13-year-old Callum Hudson-Odoi, who looked absolutely over the moon. Lovely stuff.


Donny van de Beek

Donny van de Beek, like other youngsters who came through the Ajax academy, found himself on ball boy duty as part of the club’s graduation process.

The current Manchester United midfielder once got a snap with star striker Luis Suarez.


Matthijs de Ligt

Juventus star Matthijs de Ligt came through the ranks with Van de Beek and also got a photo with Suarez while working as a ball boy.


Bernardo Silva

Foden’s teammate Bernardo Silva was a ball boy for boyhood club Benfica and was reportedly on duty for a Europa League clash against Napoli in 2008.


Brahim Diaz

Brahim Diaz, who was at Man City but is currently on loan at AC Milan from Real Madrid, grew up in Malaga’s academy during the period when the Spanish club had several high-profile players in their ranks.

The following image shows him watching on as Santi Cazorla and Isco celebrate together.


Pep Guardiola

Pep Guardiola, a fine midfielder and one of the best coaches of all time, has always been fanatical about football.

He came through Barcelona’s famous La Masia academy and found himself on ball-boy duty on several occasions.

This is Pep behind Victor Munoz as Barça celebrated winning the title…


And what a photo this is. As Terry Venables celebrates at Camp Nou, Guardiola (circled) is there in the thick of the action with a beaming smile on his face.



One of Real Madrid’s greatest ever players, did you know that Raul spent two years in Atletico’s youth ranks?

This old photo shows him alongside Atleti forward Manolo in the early 1990s…


Iago Aspas

A figure of fun in England after a disappointing spell with Liverpool, but revered in Spain thanks to his excellent record with Celta Vigo, this image shows Iago Aspas on the sidelines during a clash between Celta and AS Roma.

Years later and Aspas has now scored more goals for the Spanish club than any other player in history.


Carlos Tevez

Check this one out. Two ballers side-by-side sometime either in the late-1990s or early-2000s.

Carlos Tevez poses with Juan Roman Riquelme before the former made his professional debut with Boca Juniors in 2001.


Wesley Sneijder

Wesley Sneijder, one of the best attacking midfielders of his era, was photographed alongside Ajax great Frank Rijkaard after joining the Dutch club’s youth academy at the age of seven in 1991.


Alvaro Morata

Alvaro Morata has floated between Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid for most of his life.

He started out with Atleti in the mid-2000s and can be seen here alongside several other ball boys during a La Liga game.


Arda Turan

The lad celebrating a Galatasaray goal in this photo is Arda Turn, the former Turkey international who went on to play for Atletico Madrid and Barcelona before returning to his home country.


One for the future…

Oakley Cannonier

‘Corner taken quickly… Origi!’ are words that Liverpool fans will never, ever forget.

The ball boy whose quick thinking teed up Trent Alexander-Arnold for THAT corner against Barcelona was Oakley Cannonier, who is currently part of Liverpool’s Under-18 side and has represented England at Under-16 level.


And, of course, the GOAT ball boy Charlie Morgan

We couldn’t finish without mentioning Charlie Morgan.

The former Swansea City ball boy famously kicked by Eden Hazard in 2013 is now the CEO of AU Vodka. No, seriously.

Life is strange.

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