Paul Pogba, Thomas Muller and previous winners of Best Young Player award

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Kylian Mbappe scored four goals in France’s World Cup-winning campaign in Russia, which earned the Best Young Player award.

Here, we look at previous winners of the award and how their career progressed.

2014 – Paul Pogba, France

It is hard to imagine the world four years ago when Paul Pogba’s dance moves and haircuts weren’t a topic of debate.

Before the 2014 World Cup, a 21-year-old Pogba was just starting to establish himself after two seasons at Juventus.

It was clear he had promise, but he was far from the finished article. Pogba’s lack of experience was evident in the first game, when he was fortunate to avoid a red card for kicking out at Honduras’ Wilson Palacios.

Not a regular pick for coach Didier Deschamps, he was dropped for France’s next match, but came off the bench to register an assist in the second half. Pogba scored in a match-winning performance against Nigeria in the last 16, before Les Bleus crashed out to Germany in the quarter-finals.

The tournament confirmed Pogba’s status as one of the world’s best young talents and his big-money move to Manchester United came two years later. He played a vital role in France’s midfield in Russia, scoring in the final.

pogba 1212

2010 – Thomas Muller, Germany

Few have taken the international stage by storm quite like Thomas Muller in his first World Cup. The then 20-year-old hadn’t even scored for Germany prior to the tournament, but went on to claim the Golden Boot and Best Young Player award.

The Bayern Munich man fired in five goals from just five shots on target in Germany’s run to the semi-final. Four years later, Germany went one better and won the World Cup, with Muller scoring five and assisting three.

Now 28, he has continued to be a key player in Bayern’s domestic dominance but struggled alongside his compatriots in Russia as Germany exited in the group stage.

Mueller 1

2006 – Lukas Podolski, Germany

In Germany’s home tournament, a 21-year-old Podolski formed one half of a formidable strike partnership with born goalscorer Miroslav Klose. Podolski’s three goals helped him to win the Best Young Player award, while Klose’s five goals fired him to the Golden Boot. Germany got to within touching distance of the final, losing to Italy after extra-time in the semis.

Podolski’s efforts earned him a move from Cologne to Bayern Munich, where he spent three years before joining Arsenal. He remained a key figure in the Germany squad and was part of the team that triumphed in 2014. Now 33, he plays his football in Japan for Vissel Kobe.


2002 – Landon Donovan, United States

The US entered the South Korea and Japan World Cup having won just four games in the tournament in the last 72 years.

A remarkable run, including a 3-2 win over Portugal, saw the Americans reach the quarter-final.
Donovan, then 20 and playing for San Jose Earthquakes, scored in the Portugal win and headed in another against Mexico. The USA were eventually knocked out by Germany.

It remains the USA’s best World Cup finish since 1930 and Donovan later went on to become the US national team’s all-time top scorer.

He moved to LA Galaxy in 2005 and is now the highest scorer in MLS history with 145 goals. The midfielder had two loan spells at Everton before returning to Los Angeles. He spent last season in Mexico with Leon.

Landon Donovan

Provided by Press Association Sport

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Football is not coming home but England will still return from World Cup as heroes

Simon Peach 13/07/2018
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Together Gareth Southgate and Harry Kane have restored pride for England

Football is not coming home, but England will return as heroes.

Gareth Southgate‘s men ripped up the script in Russia, injecting hope and excitement back into a side that had become a byword for disappointment.

So well-known are those struggles that in China they even coined the phrase “happy football” to describe England’s knack at floundering on the biggest stages, often in a comical fashion.

Southgate smiled when told of that phrase at a press conference early into their World Cup adventure and admitted he was as guilty as anyone of so-called “happy football” after his penalty shootout miss at Euro 96.

But, like so often, the manager’s dollop of self-depreciating humour came with steely determination to redefine the country’s reputation – one of numerous examples of England talking the talk, then walking the walk, while the fans belted out ‘Three Lions’, previously so associated with Euro 96.

No more 'happy football' for England

No more ‘happy football’ for England

Within 24 hours of being asked about “happy football”, the Three Lions kept their cool amid Panama’s rough-housing and the Nizhny Novgorod heat to dish out a 6-1 shellacking – the country’s biggest-ever major tournament win.

Days earlier Southgate’s men had dug deep to secure a last-gasp win in their Group G opener against Tunisia – character again evident during the last-16 clash against a Colombia side more interested in outfighting than outplaying.

England displayed a street-wise edge that belied their inexperience, impressively keeping their composure and recovering from the stoppage-time leveller that took the match to extra-time.

Even more remarkably, they won on penalties at the World Cup for the first time.

Months of practicing, planning and studying bore fruit as Southgate’s players ended a run of six defeats out of seven major tournament shootouts, taking the side through to a quarter-final that they won with ease against stoic Sweden.

England went about their job diligently in Samara, but their greenness appeared to cost them when wily Croatia ratcheted up the pressure in Wednesday’s semi-final.

Ivan Perisic cancelled out Kieran Trippier’s early free-kick to take the Three Lions’ first World Cup semi-final into extra-time, where their energy and self-confidence seeped away.

Mario Mandzukic went onto snatch the victory that left heartbroken England players on their haunches at the final whistle.

Gareth Southgate led England to the semi-finals of the World Cup.

#SouthgateWould trended on social media

Predictably, Southgate kept his composure after his latest semi-final disappointment, consoling his players and congratulating Croatia’s as he once again led by example.

Calming, clever and honest, the former defender has inspired the nation over recent weeks.

#GarethsouthgateWould trended on social media and it was joked that he would lead the country through the stormy waters of Brexit.

Thousands of people then wore waistcoats in his honour on Wednesday after helping England surpass expectations by reaching a first World Cup semi-final in 28 years.

People can point to a favourable draw, but the old adage is that you can only beat what is put in front of you – and you only need to look two years back to Iceland to see that has not always been possible despite England’s individual quality.

This time, collective spirit and smart coaching allowed the country to flourish.

Prowess from set pieces – the ‘Love Train’ – complemented a clear togetherness, with the foundations laid at St George’s Park built upon in remote Repino, a quiet resort town 29 miles north-west of St Petersburg.

Love Island, Fortnite and Yorkshire Tea helped make the forRestMix Club a home from home, while the nearby media centre saw boundaries broken down between players and reporters.

The NFL-style open media day in Burton set the tone as the ‘us against them’ mentality faded, with players playing darts against reporters and speaking with disarming openness, most notably Danny Rose on his battle with depression.

Danny Rose's openness set a great tone for media relations

Danny Rose’s openness set a great tone for media relations

Candidness coupled with players’ social media savvy has helped reconnect with fans and puncture public apathy, while England heeded the advice to write their own stories on the pitch.

Harry Kane spoke of his belief that England could challenge for the trophy hours after being named captain and shot himself to the cusp of the Golden Boot, while Tottenham team-mate Trippier shone at right-back.

Inexperienced goalkeeper Pickford repaid Southgate’s faith behind a defence in which cult hero Harry Maguire was an imposing presence – as well as a meme sensation. John Stones performed admirably and Kyle Walker worked diligently as makeshift centre-back.

Raheem Sterling coped with inexplicable criticism before the tournament, and at times during, as he proved a nuisance throughout.

Unfortunately he was unable to get the goal his play deserves, but Saturday’s third-place play-off against Belgium could provide another chance for him – and allow England to hone their open-play threat.

That attack edge has been problematic in Russia, where the gaps that opened up and striking lack of composure against Croatia underlined the work still required.

But Southgate’s side were never going to be the finished article and the experience will only hold them in good stead.

This callow group will soon welcome even younger players, with England reigning world champions at Under-17 and Under-20 levels as the pathways put into place by the football Association bear fruit.

Southgate played a key role in setting up the country’s rejuvenated development system and nobody looks better placed to understand and appreciate that talent.

The future looks bright going into Euro 2020 and beyond, so while football might not be coming home this time, it may well do soon as England begin redefine “happy football”.

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Gareth Southgate says England's World Cup campaign a 'rare moment of hope'

Simon Peach 13/07/2018
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Gareth Southgate says England's World Cup campaign a moment of 'rare hope'

Gareth Southgate believes England’s remarkable run to the World Cup semi-finals has not only showcased homegrown talent but struck a blow for the country’s coaches.

Heartache and frustration was intertwined with pride after Wednesday’s galling 2-1 extra-time loss to Croatia denied them a place in the Luzhniki Stadium showpiece finale.

“Football will not be coming home” but England will return as heroes, having restored pride, reconnected with fans and pointed towards a brighter future during a summer that will live long in the memory.

Southgate’s disappointment at missing the final is clear but there is understandable confidence about the future given the improving health of the national game and inspiration this run provide.

“We felt it was the chance to showcase what young English players can do,” the England manager said.

“And, also, we hoped that we could strike a blow for English coaches as well because it’s not always been possible for English coaches to have this job.

“That’s why it is an honour to do it and to play in a way and get to a stage of a tournament that will hopefully inspire young coaches as well.

“I know the messages I have had from back home has helped them see what’s possible.”

It will take time to accurately reflect on England’s “incredible experience” in terms of progress, individual performances and collective success, but their style as much as substance brings hope.

Southgate certainly has the nation’s backing and provides a firm platform on which to build, unlike the teams of World Cup 1990 and Euro 96 when semi-final runs were followed by the exits of popular managers Sir Bobby Robson and Terry Venables.

“Of course, we have one of two paths to go,” Southgate said.

“This is either a moment of rare hope and we sink back or we build in the way that Germany did in 2010.

“We want to be in semi-finals, finals and we’ve shown to ourselves that can happen.

“The team and the individuals will be better in a couple of years’ time.

“Some of these big matches, you just have to go through them and live them to know how to react in the right moments in the right way.

“There was just a period in the second half and it looked like we had the lead and don’t want to give it away rather than we keep playing and we just lost a bit of composure in that period and Croatia’s experience really told.

“But we’ve learned from all of the things over the last couple of years and that’s a cruel lesson, but, blimey, we’ve come through so many important ones and I’m really, really very proud of what they’ve done.”

Southgate now faces the challenge of getting his devastated players refocused and recovered in time for Saturday’s third-place play-off against Belgium.

The England manager admits it is not a game that any team wants to play in, but changes will be as much down to the short turnaround and tournament exertions than anything else.

“I think a physical part of that is going to have a huge bearing,” Southgate said.

“We only have a two-day recovery and I’m sure some of the guys won’t be able to get out there.

“I’d be really surprised if (Kieran) Trippier is out there. (Ashley) Young, too, so we will have to make changes and so what’s right. But we’ll assess them before picking a team.

“It’s the chance to have our second-best ever finish and the chance for the players to get a medal.

“So, there’s that and there’s the pride in playing for your country again. So, we’ll try and get the team that is best able to do the job.”

Captain Harry Kane will be among the more interesting selection decisions, given the sharpshooter is gunning for the Golden Boot.

“I don’t know (if he wants to play),” England boss Southgate said of a striker currently leading the scoring charts with six goals.

“We will see how he is. He’s got another 120 (minutes) and I don’t know the full injury update.

“Trippier is the obvious one because he’s had to come off during the game and (Jordan) Henderson is also feeling his hamstring so we will just have to assess it.”

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