Best Golden Boy winners

In 2003, the Italian newspaper Tuttosport began presenting the award to the best young player in Europe; basically, a Ballon d'Or for under-21 players. To be eligible, the player must, in addition to being under 21 years of age, be playing in the top tier of a European country although the player's nationality may be non-European. Within the consideration for the award, the calendar year is taken, from January to December, when the award is given, that is, it covers the second half of one season and the first half of the next.

Currently, there are 11 sports publications, the most important in Europe, which, together with Tuttosport, are part of the group of voters to select the winner of the Golden Boy award. Each publication votes for 5 players distributed from first to fifth, where each place has a score, the first being the highest and decreasing as they go down in the positions. The player with the most votes after all posts vote is the winner. The award has had a varying success, with some great successes that we will review below.

Wayne Rooney

Wayne Rooney - 2004

The Englishman was the second player to receive the award and has been one of the best to win it. In 2004, when he received the recognition, he played the first part of the year with Everton, the club where he made his professional debut, and then he was signed by Manchester United, for a high fee for a player who was barely 18 years old (around 30 million euros). Rooney was always a precocious player who knew how to handle high-pressure situations from a very young age and signing for the Red Devils was not a problem for him.

He spent the vast majority of his career at United (13 years), where he won 16 trophies and scored 253 goals, becoming the club's all-time top scorer. He would retire as a professional player after brief spells at Everton, DC United and Derby County (where he was player and manager at the same time). With the England national team he debuted at just 17 years old and became the second player with the most appearances for The Three Lions, only behind Peter Shilton. Additionally, until 2023, he was England's top scorer until Harry Kane surpassed him.

Lionel Messi - playing for Argentina here

Lionel Messi - 2005

A year later, the winner would be Lionel Messi (I don't know if you've heard of him?). At the time of receiving the award, the Argentine was 18 years old and was playing his first matches as a professional for FC Barcelona. At that time, Messi still did not have the numbers of goals and assists that he would have later in his career, but he did have quite good dribbling ability and was already a player who made a difference when he played.

The Argentine would spend 17 years at the Catalan club where he would break all possible records: most games for Barcelona, the club's all-time top scorer, the greatest assister in Barcelona's history, among many others. To this we must add that he won 34 trophies with the Catalan club, including 4 UEFA Champions League and 10 Spanish leagues.

In his career, to date, he has won 8 Ballon d'Or, which is the record for that recognition. After a couple of seasons at PSG, he signed in 2023 for Inter Miami, where he is currently playing. With the Argentina national team he has had very good recent years, winning the 2021 Copa America and the 2022 FIFA World Cup, in addition to being the player with the most appearances and the most goals in the history of the Argentine team.

Sergio Agüero

Sergio Agüero - 2007

The Argentine Sergio Agüero won the award when he was playing his second season at Atlético de Madrid, although it was already his sixth season as a professional since he made his professional debut with Independiente at just 15 years old. During his time in Spain he was one of the best strikers in the Spanish league. This earned him the chance to sign for Manchester City, which at that time was beginning to use petrodollars to bring in renowned players like Agüero.

He spent 10 years at City, with which he won 5 Premier League titles and became one of the best players in the history of the tournament. In his first season he scored the goal that the Premier League gave him, leaving that famous one: Agüerooooo!!! In 2021, at the end of his contract with the English club, he went to Barcelona where he would only play for a couple of months since a heart failure was detected, which led him to retire.

Kylian Mbappé

Kylian Mbappé - 2017

In 2017, the French star Mbappé had a dream year. That year he had a fantastic season with AS Monaco, being crowned champion of Ligue 1, earning him his signing for PSG, in the first instance on loan although with a mandatory purchase option. That same year was also his debut with the France national team. With the Parisian club he has won 12 trophies.

With France, he was world champion in 2018, having a superlative performance during the competition (where he scored in the final), winning the Best Young Player award. In 2021, he would win the UEFA Nations League (scoring in the final) and in 2022, he would be a finalist in the FIFA World Cup, scoring a hat-trick in the final against Argentina. A player made for the big stages.

Erling Braut Haaland

Erling Braut Haaland - 2020

That 2020 was the year where Erling Braut Haaland signed for Borussia Dortmund after a season in which he scored 28 goals in 22 games with Red Bull Salzburg and became the desire of many important teams in Europe. In two and a half seasons in Germany he scored 86 goals in 89 games, making Manchester City pay the Norwegian's release clause (60 million euros).

In his debut season with the English team he broke many of the club's and Premier League scoring records, becoming European Golden Shoe. The stain on his career has been the Norway national team with which, despite having scored 27 goals in 29 games, he has not been able to qualify for a major tournament. However, due to his youth, it seems that this situation will be resolved sooner rather than later.
Nathan Annan is from South Africa and loves to write, and above all about his favorite sport, football. Nathan's interest in football was sparked late but after watching a few matches in his hometown of Johannesburg during the 2010 South Africa World Cup, he was hooked.