The World Cup is the pinnacle of a footballer’s career.
Not speaking from experience there, obviously.
But some players reach the summit of Everest fair quicker than others. So what became of the World Cup’s youngest players?
Norman Whiteside- Northern Ireland (17 years, one month and 10 days)
Not to be confused with Mr. Brightside, Mr Whiteside clocked up eight seasons for Man United and two seasons for Everton, as well as picking up 38 caps for Northern Ireland.
He’s one of five United players to make his first-team debut at the age of 16, along with Jeff Whitefoot, Duncan Edwards, Willie Anderson and Angel Gomes.
Samuel Eto’o- Cameroon (17 years, three months and seven days)
Eto’o, who made his Cameroon debut aged 15, came off the bench to play 34 minutes against an Italian defence consisting of Paolo Maldini, Fabio Cannavaro, Alessandro Costacurta and Alessandro Nesta.
That chastening experience set him up for a stellar career, the highlights of which include three Champions League medals and two African Cup of Nations trophies.
Femi Opabunmi- Nigeria (17 years, three months and nine days)
England fans might remember Opabunmi from the Nigeria side that drew 0-0 with England in the 2002 World Cup. If you do, you’ve got a better memory than us.
That was his last appearance in a Nigeria shirt as he drifted from Grasshopper to Hapoel Be’er Sheva to Niort and then finally Shooting Stars, with eye problems cutting his career short.
Salomon Olembe- Cameroon (17 years, six months and three days)
The second youngest player in Cameroon’s 1998 World Cup squad didn’t quite match Eto’o’s career, but he gave it a good go.
As well as winning 64 caps for Cameroon Olembe played for Nantes, Marseille, Leeds United, Al Rayyan, Wigan Athletic, Kayserispor and Larissa. An eclectic mix.
Pele- Brazil (17 years, seven months and 23 days)
Who? Never heard of him. Although some internet searches seem to indicate he was a goat.
However this person thinks he was a footballing fraud.
Bartholomew Ogbeche- Nigeria (17 years, eight months and one day)
If awards were handed out for having a good name then Bartholomew would have won the lot.
But playing for Nigeria at the 2002 World Cup was about as good as it got for Ogbeche, who came through PSG’s academy and is now playing for Willem II in Holland.
Rigobert Song- Cameroon (17 years, 11 months and 18 days)
It doesn’t seem right that Song is no longer playing. We thought he was going to go on forever.
But with 137 caps to his name and two Africa Cup of Nations wins under his belt he’ll always be a legend in Cameroon.