June 18, 2009

The kids are (better than) alright

by Dan Bilicki In: Soccer

Soccer and youth go together like cookies and milk, beer and pizza, Lennon and McCartney – all great things – that’s why the Under-21 European Cup is such a sight to behold. We’re witnessing the future of the beautiful game come to life before our very eyes,

There are two undisputed future stars in the tournament and one is Italian Mario Balotelli. The son of Ghanaian immigrants, Baloltelli looks any but your typical Italian footballer – but plays even better. Despite some apparent personality issues, he has a talent that cannot be denied. Even at age 18, he’s still been playing for world-class side Inter Milan for two seasons, scoring 11 goals in 33 appearances. If there was a candidate for a breakout star at this summer’s Euro Cup, he’s the top choice.

That’s not to rule out Bojan Krkic, though. The young Spanish forward is touted as the best player in the tournament and has already debuted for the national team at the outstanding age of 18.

Germany has trotted a lineup full of guys in the vein of Mario Gomez, Gerald Asaoah and Lucas Podolski. That is players with names that sound the least German as possible. Granted, they’re all born in Germany, but their fathers brought their surnames with them from different origins. This year the German side have suited up Mesut Ozil (who looked dynamite against Spain minus the finishing), Gonzalo Castro, Ashkan Dejagah and Sami Khedira. Not exactly along the lines of Rudi Voller, Oliver Kahn and Franz Beckenbauer, but a good new generation of future stars, no matter what their names sound like.

Even host Sweden boast a good potential star or two. Marcus Berg picked up a hat trick in his first game out. You could blame Belarus for some opening day jitters, but when you’re in a tournament with only eight qualifying teams, it’s hard to imagine a side not being fired up from the get-go.

There’s always no shortage of English young guns as well. Guys like Theo Walcott, Micah Richards, Gabriel Agbonlahor and Joe Hart have already been playing in the Premier League for a couple of years now. All of them have been called up to the national team too at teams, almost given the Brits an unfair advantage through experience.

With so many stars, future and present, this tournament shouldn’t carry the stigma of being just youngsters. These players aren’t your typical kids, they’re the future of the game, so you better get to know some of these names, because before long, they’ll be either leading or pestering your national side.

1 Comment

  1. We need another Goal Scorer quickly. Agbonlahor cannot do it on his own

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