The 2018 World Cup is fast approaching, with all eyes set to be cast towards Russia this summer for the greatest football event on earth. Following a dramatic Euro 2016 in France, in which Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal rallied to their first ever major international silverware success, the World Cup represents another massive platform for the sport’s top stars to showcase their talents, and fans to overindulge on the constant action.
The opening clash in Russia will take place on June 14, with the final scheduled for July 15, as the 32 nations battle it out for international supremacy. England will look to banish their embarrassing Euro 2016 performances on Russian territory, perhaps by making it out of the group stage under the guidance of Gareth Southgate. They are 16/1 outsiders with William Hill to amazingly go all the way this summer. Meanwhile, the usual suspects Brazil, reigning champions Germany and star-studded Belgium outfit will be aiming for outright success.
There are set to be plenty of young prospects involved this year again, in a tournament which has produced many magical moments for teenage sensations throughout its rich history. So, ahead of the big kick-off in Russia, we delve into the archives and highlight the five youngest ever World Cup goalscorers, including some very familiar names.
1. Dmitri Sychev: Age 18
Starting off the list in patriotic style is a former Russian wonder kid Dmitri Sychev, a talented teenager that sadly never fulfilled his early promise.
At the age of 18, he had already built up a huge reputation in his native homeland with his impressive burst of pace, agility and clinical finishing in front of goal.
Sychev became the youngest ever Russian representative at the 2002 World Cup against Tunisia, before eventually netting past Belgium in his country’s final group game. They eventually lost 3-2 and were eliminated.
2. Nicolae Kovacs: Age 18
A real blast from the past next. Nicolae Kovacs was involved as Romania took on Peru in the inaugural 1930 World Cup in Uruguay.
The promising teenager managed to get himself on the scoresheet in a 3-1 triumph for the Romanians in South American.
It may not have been on the grand scale we witness in international football in the current climate, but finding the target at such a young age is impressive nevertheless, even back then.
3. Michael Owen: Age 18
From two widely unknown youngsters to a familiar face next. Former England marksman Michael Owen was as deadly as they come back in his early days before several injuries blighted his career.
Long before baffling the nation with his, interesting, views from a role as a football pundit today, Owen was a feared young forward.
At the age of 18, he burst on to the scene for England at the 1998 World Cup in France, scoring an equaliser against Romania and famously dispatching past Argentina too. He’s still also the only three Lions player to ever strike in four major tournaments. Not too shabby.
4. Manuel Rosas: Age 18
A former Mexican starlet, Manuel Rosas took to the 1930 World Cup and ultimately broke several records.
He became the then youngest player to ever score at the World Cup and the first to successfully dispatch a penalty at the tournament against Argentine.
In his next outing against Chile, Rosas then became the first ever own-goal scorer at the WC. Talk about hero to zero.
5. Pele: Age 17
Rounding off the list is one of the greatest players in history. Pele is the answer to this often asked pub quiz question, as he broke Rosas’ record in the 1958 World Cup.
The Brazilian starred at just 17 years of age at the event in Sweden, as they eventually secured success outright.
Pele, of course, went on to lift two more World Cup trophies, but is most remembered for his 1958 heroics as a young boy. The latest crop of Samba stars are seen as the 5/1 second-favourites to banish their recent demons and lift the World Cup once again this year.