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FIFA’s Technical Study Group (TSG) today released the shortlist for the Hyundai Young Player Award, featuring three up-and-coming performers that have starred at the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™.
The accolade continues the tradition of officially recognising the positive impact made by young footballers, and is open to all participating players born on or after 1 January 1993. The winner will be selected by the TSG and unveiled on FIFA.com after the World Cup Final.
The emergence of young footballing talent on the global stage is one of the joys of any World Cup and Brazil 2014 has been no exception.
These burgeoning stars may have already been relatively well-known prior to the opening ceremony in Sao Paulo, but there is little doubt that the three nominated for the prestigious Hyundai Young Player Award have earned new admirers during the tournament for their carefree and refreshing styles of play, as well as their surprisingly mature tactical nous.
The Hyundai Young Player Award is one of the official FIFA awards and is selected by the TSG, a FIFA-appointed group of top football coaches and analysts, whose director Jean-Paul Brigger is a former Swiss international, Swiss domestic league champion (with Sion) and the country’s Player of the Year in 1992. He is also a five-time winner of the Swiss Cup and was named Swiss Coach of the Year in 1995.
The nominees for the Hyundai Young Player Award at the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil are as follows:
Memphis Depay (NED): Fresh from an excellent season with PSV Eindhoven, Memphis Depay has confirmed his growing reputation at Brazil 2014. After coming off the bench during the Netherlands’ second match with Australia, the Moordrecht native made a crucial impact, netting a goal and setting up another; in doing so, he became the most youthful Dutch goalscorer in World Cup history. He then got on the scoresheet once more as the Oranje defeated Chile in their third and final group game. Pacey, unselfish and clinical in front of goal, Depay was again used as an impact substitute versus Mexico, before becoming the youngest Dutchman to begin a World Cup encounter since 1938 against Costa Rica in the quarter-finals, completing his journey from rising star to established starter in the process.
Paul Pogba (FRA): Although he is still only 21 years of age, Paul Pogba is already one of France’s key players. The Juventus star gained his first taste of international success last year at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Turkey, where his skills and subtlety of touch helped Les Bleuets to emerge victorious from the competition and enabled him to earn the adidas Golden Ball award. In Brazil, the energetic midfielder showed the full array of his talents, including an opening goal in Les Bleus’ Round-of-16 clash with Nigeria. Having firmly established himself in the side, Pogba is likely to be one of the first names on France’s teamsheet for many years to come.
Raphael Varane (FRA): Absent from the 2013 U-20 World Cup due to injury, Raphael Varane nevertheless enjoyed a successful club season in Spain and on the continental stage. The Real Madrid player confirmed his wunderkind status at Brazil 2014, where he performed admirably at centre-back in a French defence that conceded just three goals in the tournament. Composed on the ball, quick and aggressive in the challenge, and accurate when passing from the back, the imposing 21-year-old is the epitome of the modern defender. While many fans in Europe were already aware of Varane’s potential, the World Cup has provided a platform for him to prove it to the entire planet.