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Monday 1 September 2014

Young guns - Five of the best performances at a World Cup Finals

Darragh Collins

Published 06/07/2014 | 13:50

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In light of 22 year old James Rodriguez’s magnificent World Cup campaign with Colombia, we take a look at five other youngsters who took the World Cup by storm.

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Franz Beckenbauer

Franz Beckenbauer played every game of the 1966 World Cup at the age of 20 for Germany. His first World Cup game ended with two goals against Switzerland which was followed by another two goals as his side progressed to the final before famously losing out to England.

Despite his inexperience Beckenbauer demonstrated outstanding leadership and many regard the German as one of the greatest defenders of all time.

He went on to win four league titles with Bayern Munich, and claimed the World Cup and European Championship with Germany.

Michael Owen

Michael Owen made England's 1998 World Cup squad at age 18, becoming the youngest national team member in 100 years.

His wonder goal against Argentina was England's stand-out moment in France with Owen winning the hearts of the nation and becoming an international star, renowned for his speed and killer instinct around the goal.

Owen was named European Footballer of the Year in 2001 as he won a treble with Liverpool. However, a move to Real Madrid followed by a series of injuries took its toll on the player and although he had a long career, he was never quite the same speedy player he was in his younger years.

Thomas Muller

The 2010 World Cup would become a defining tournament for the 21 year-old Thomas Muller.

He scored his first international goal in the tournament opener against Australia where Germany won 4–0. He scored five goals in the tournament, though he was forced to miss the semi-final after picking up a booking against Argentina in the 4-0 rout of the South Americans in the quarter-final.

Müller was honoured not only as joint-top scorer but also as best young player of the tournament, which earned him a place on the Ballon d’Or list.

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Marc Overmars

The brilliant Dutch winger played for the likes of Barcelona, Ajax and Arsenal, but it all began for him in the 1994 World Cup.

At that time, he was only 21 years old, but already trusted to be a first-team player of the Oranje team and was named the best young player of the tournament.

Overmars was part of the famous Ajax side that won the Champions League with Louis Van Gaal at the helm in 1995 and went on to have a distinguished career.

Pelé

Aged just 17, Pele was named as the best player in the 1958 World Cup when he led Brazil in their winning campaign.

Despite his tender years he was trusted to be the main striker for his side as he broke various records, such as "the youngest player to score a goal in World Cup history" and "the youngest player to score a hat trick in a World Cup tournament."

In 1958, Pele managed to score six goals, making him the second top scorer behind Just Fontaine of France.

Pele's phenomenal performances in this tournament to this day is regarded as the greatest performance of a young player in the World Cup.

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