Germany, a four-time FIFA World Cup winner, added a new crown to its head with a maiden U-17 Men’s World Cup in 2023, beating France in the final on penalties.
One of the most important players for the Germans throughout the campaign was 17-year-old forward Paris Josua Brunner, who was also adjudged the best player of the tournament, with the Golden Ball Award.
Before announcing himself on the global stage, however, Brunner had already made headlines in Germany and Europe as one of the most promising youngsters in world football.
Playing for the youth side of Borussia Dortmund – one of the clubs known best for youth development – he scored 16 goals in just five matches in the Under-17 level of the German league.
His exploits helped him get promoted to the under-19 side at the age of just 16, where he scored against Bonner SC on his debut. His pace and attacking prowess drew comparisons with another young German, Youssoufa Moukoko, who was the youngest player at the FIFA World Cup 2022.
In German colours, Brunner proved to be clutch and menacing at the same time at the under-17 level. In the u-17 European Championship, he scored the equaliser for a 10-man side against Switzerland in the quarterfinal, forcing the match into penalties.
Germany won that match 3-2 on penalties to secure its spot in the World Cup.
He continued to remain consistent in the World Cup, where he scored five goals, with four of them coming in the knockouts. He struck the winner against Spain in the quarterfinals and a brace against Argentina in the semis.
Though he failed to convert in the penalty shootout in the final, he scored the opening goal for the Germans in the tournament and also netted in the final in regulation time.
Brunner’s style of play involves a mix of blistering pace and quick dribbles into the final third, something that France found difficult to break in the final.
While the 17-year-old has yet to feature for any of the senior sides, club or country, it looks like a matter of time before such an opportunity arrives for Brunner.
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