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What happened to the last nine winners of the Under-20 World Cup Golden Ball?

Is Dominic Solanke's Golden Ball win a sure sign of future success?

After 51 years of hurt England are finally (Under-20) World Cup champions again.

Liverpool’s Dominic Solanke joined a select group of players to be awarded the Golden Ball for the tournament’s best player, but how sure a sign of success is the honour?

Blood, sweat and beers

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Blood, sweat and beers

The tournament has been running since 1977, meaning 21 players have been handed the Golden Ball, including Diego Maradona who starred for Argentina in 1979.

But we’ve limited our look back to the nine players prior to Solanke, when football was still in colour and Brexit was something you attached to your jeans.

This is what football looked like in 1997

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This is what football looked like in 1997

1999- Seydou Keita

A 17-year-old Keita, who was playing for Marseille at the time, was the first African footballer to lift the Golden Ball when he powered Mali to third in 1999.

He had to drop down to the second tier of French football for first-team opportunities, joining Lorient and winning the Coupe de France, before moving to Lens.

Spells in Spain, with Sevilla and Barcelona, brought Keita three league titles, four Spanish Super Cups, two Copa del Reys, two Champions Leagues, two UEFA Super Cups and two FIFA Club World Cups.

Keita’s footballing CV also boasts Dalian Aerbin, Valencia, Roma and El Jaish. Lucikly, given how crammed his trophy cabinet is, he hasn’t won honours with Mali.

TIL: Seydou Keita started his career as a striker

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TIL: Seydou Keita started his career as a striker

2001- Javier Saviola

Saviola scored 11 goals at the tournament in 2001, earning the 19-year-old River Plate striker a move to Barcelona.

Despite playing for Monaco, Sevilla, Real Madrid, Benfica, Malaga, Olympiacos and Verona the Argentinian never really made a mark in Europe.

His first season at the Nou Camp was arguably his best in a sporadic career, although he still picked up 39 caps for the Argentinian senior side.

So many awards, so few hands

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So many awards, so few hands

2003- Ismail Matar

The United Arab Emirates hosted youth football’s great and good in 2003, so it was fitting that UAE striker Matar picked up the Golden Ball.

He spoiled a one-club career with Al-Wahda by joining Al Sadd for a two-game loan spell in 2009.

Internationally Matar has played more than 100 games for the UAE, helping his country to a first Gulf Cup of Nations title in 2007 and then again six years later.

There was only one way to stop Matar in 2003

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There was only one way to stop Matar in 2003

2005- Lionel Messi

Heard of him? No, us neither.

A cursory glance at Wikipedia tells us he is a pretty decent player.

Six goals for Argentina in 2005 won him the Golden Ball, something it’s fair to say he’s lived up to in the 12 years since.

The GOAT and Lionel Messi

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The GOAT and Lionel Messi

2007- Sergio Aguero

Aguero played in the shadows of Messi in 2005 then took centre stage two years later as Argentina reclaimed the title.

The Atletico Madrid striker was one of only three in the squad playing outside of Argentina, with Sevilla’s Federico Fazio and Liverpool’s Emiliano Insua also trying their luck abroad.

Aguero has since established himself as one of Europe’s best strikers, even if Gabriel Jesus is now threatening his Man City future.

He hasn’t aged a bit. Come to think of it, neither has Aguero

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He hasn’t aged a bit. Come to think of it, neither has Aguero

2009- Dominic Adiyiah

Adiyiah was instrumental in Ghana’s first Under-20 title win, top scoring with eight goals.

The 27-year-old counts Feyenoord Ghana and the magnificently named Heart of Lions as his former clubs, but moved from Fredrikstad to Milan off the back of the 2009 tournament.

Adiyiah is now at Nakhon Ratchasima in Thailand, which gives you some idea of how kind senior football has been to him.

Hands up who wants to play in Thailand?

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Hands up who wants to play in Thailand?

2011- Henrique

In a squad of Oscar, Philippe Coutinho, Casemiro and Alex Sandro it was a 20-year-old striker from Sao Paulo who stood out.

Henrique Almeida Caixeta Nascentes was joint-top scorer with Alexandre Lacazette, scoring the 200th goal in the history of the tournament.

The 26-year-old is now at Coritiba, on loan from Gremio, having seen a move to QPR fall through in January 2012. That was probably for the best.

Henrique aka Superman

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Henrique aka Superman

2013- Paul Pogba

Man United were well aware how big a mistake they’d made in letting Pogba join Juventus when the 20-year-old starred for France in 2013.

He drove France to a first title at that level, alongside current full internationals Kurt Zouma, Samuel Umtiti, Geoffrey Kondogbia, Lucas Digne and Florian Thauvin.

He’s since dabbed his way back to Old Trafford for a world-record fee.

The most costly mistake in football

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The most costly mistake in football

2015- Adama Traore

No, Middlesbrough fans, not that Adama Traore.

Traore MKII represents Mali and is on the books of Monaco although, as with Solanke, he’s had to move away from the club in search of first-team football.

A loan spell at Rio Ave was far from spectacular, but he’s at a club that values youth so don’t be surprised to see him alongside Kylian Mbappe next season.

Monaco’s next big thing?

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Monaco’s next big thing?

Tag a mate who’s lost one of your footballs…

LOST FOOTBALLS: Tag a mate who's lost at least one of your footballs over the years