FIFA U-20 World Cup: Stars of the past

The poster boy of world football, the then 18-year-old Lionel Messi weaved his magic as Argentina claimed its fifth of six FIFA U-20 World Cup in 2005. It beat Nigeria 2-1 in the final, with Messi scoring both th goals from the penalty spot. He bagged the Golden Ball, given for the best player of the tournament, and the Golden Boot after he finished top scorer with six goals. Photo: AP
Paul Pogba inspired France to its maiden U-20 crown in 2013, as it beat Uruguay 4-1 in penalties in the final. Captain Pogba bagged the Golden Ball for his strong tackling and exceptional stamina as he displayed a remarkable ability to read the play and dictate the pace. He led his team-mates from the front, and was first to get them back on their feet after mishaps. Photo: Getty Images
One of the finest midfielders in modern football, Xavi made his mark in the international arena in 1999 when Spain bagged the title overcoming Japan in the final. Xavi was credited with dictating the pace of the game as he expertly slowed things down when needed before changing pace and direction with striking efficiency. The midfielder then went on to achieve great things for Barcelona and Spain. Photo: Getty Images
One of the greatest players to have come out of Ghana, Essien and Co. had a great tournament in 2001 as it narrowly missed out on the title to Argentina. Essien used his lightning pace to crack holes in opposing defences as Ghana reached its second final after 1993, when it lost to Brazil (2-1). the Ghanian went on to represent Chelsea, Real Madrid and AC Milan, among other clubs.
Javier Saviola's Argentina beat Essien's Ghana to the title as he scored 11 times in the competition to bag the Golden Boot award in 2001. His record still stands to this day. The pint-sized forward had no worthy competitor in that tournament as he scored two hat tricks and two braces to make him the competition's all-time top scorer ahead of Brazilian Adailton. Saviola also bagged the Golden Ball award as his guile and clinical finishing made him the undisputed player of the tournament. Photo: AP