FIFA `S FOOTBALL TOURNAMENTS
The FIFA organized events are made up of the age grade tournaments the U17 and U20 world cups,
the Olympics with a subsequent rebranding of the event as an age grade tournament in 1992 with
each participants allowed three over aged players initially it was played at an amateur level, the
other tournaments are the senior world cup this year`s edition will be held in Qatar in December
and the confederation`s cup for regional champions, world cup hosts and world champions which
has been abolished. The achievement of winning at all levels can be called a grand slam-a sweep of all the available football trophies, A quintuplet of trophies a last of its kind because of the replacement of the confederation`s cup with the world club cup.
A TOURNAMENT TO CHERISH
Some countries have been able to produce success at a particular tournament which is worthy of mention At the U17 world cup, Saudi Arabia (1989), Roger Federer’s Switzerland in (2009), at the U20 world cup Portugal (1989,1991) Serbia (2015) and Ukraine (2019) at the Olympics, winners are serial champions Hungary (1952,1964,1968), with Belgium, East Germany(united with west and are
known as Unified Germany), Czech, Poland, Yugoslavia, Sweden, Cameroun and Canada having a title. For Denmark winners at the confederation cup in 1995 what makes this remarkable was that
they did not qualify for euro 1992 but called as a replacement for Yugoslavia and they won the competition with some impressive performances and took that form with them and had another
stunning victory in the confederation cup, stuff of legends.
DOUBLE CATEGORY CHAMPIONS
Various countries have been able to win in several categories the black stars of Ghana is the only African nation with titles in both the U17(1991,1995) and U20 (2009), Nigeria the dominant nation in the U17 category with five titles and an Olympic gold at Atlanta 1996. A certain Kanu Nwankwo was the star of the Olympics and japan 1993 junior title run with Wilson Oruma also featured prominently in both.
Yugoslavia, (1987) U20 world champions and Olympics (1960) winner are also
double champion. At the senior world cup the Italians are specialists winning four times, in the 30s they were Olympic(1936) and back to back world champions (1934,1938) a dominance spanning six years but no major impact at the junior category. Uruguay became double Olympic (1924 and 1928) and world champions (1930) they added another world title in 1950 in Brazil.
ALMOST THE COMPLETE TROPHY HAUL
Countries with one elusive category to complete the collection are Argentina, England and Germany. Argentina the leading nation at the U20 world cup with her first victory was inspired by Diego Maradona in 1979 their other conquest had other notable superstars like Lionel Messi in 2005, other household names like Riquelme, Sergio Aguero, Di Maria, Walter Samuel, Gago, Aimar, Cambasso, Biglia and others were champions and part of different teams that helped Argentina to win six the most by any nation and for the ruling body their important objective which is youth development was achieved, stars shining through the ranks. Maradona was able to win the youth championship in 1979, and then the ultimate the senior world cup in Mexico 86. For the English that struggled at the youth tournaments, they created a youth development project with the high point being the double victory in 2017 of both the U17 and U20 tournaments, the only European country that has achieved that feat adding to their 1966 world cup and Olympic titles won as Great Britain. Three countries have two missing categories to complete the haul. The soviet Union have being
disintegrated with Russia as their strongest football force have added the Olympics titles to the U17 and U20 titles interestingly they won the U17 second edition in 1987 and the Olympics the following year and were beaten finalist at the euros stopped by the great Dutch superstars who they had beaten in the group stages.
The Spanish are also a force in several categories winning the U20,
Olympics and the senior world cup it is also worthy of mention that they have been four time runners up at the U17 level. cesc Fabrigas the mvp in 2003 even top scorer as a midfielder ,he went on to provide the killer assist for the solitary goal that lifted them the world cup in south Africa. Also
in that team was Captain Iker Casillas, Xavi and Marchena members of the U20 world cup win in Nigeria.
For Mexico multiple winners at the U17, with a title each at the Olympics and the
confederation cup. Their achievements are remarkable because it started recently with their trophy collection spanning between 1999 to 2012. Germany, like Italy specialists at the senior level with 4
world titles and one at the U20 level are the last champions of the confederations cup.
This transition from different youth set up at various tournaments has been very important for the development of football and players, which is a very laudable step from FIFA and has produced superstars that have evolved into genuine legends of the game, never an easy step, to maintain a high level of performance from cradle to maturity. Recognition must be given to players that have excelled from junior to the senior level, emphasis on players that have won the junior world cup (U17 or U20) then either the Olympics or the world cup or the confederation cup a combination of the three.
This is a golden transition. Some of the recognisable stars winning at different levels was a success achieved by the Brazilians, iconic names like Ronaldinho, Dida (1993)U20 champion, (2002)senior world cup winner and double confederation cup winner (1997,2005) 1983 world cup winners had Dunga and Bebeto which was their first U20 victory. Brazil`s 1994 world title win and their subsequent victory at the confederations cup in 1997, the second phase of FIFA dominance introduced the most recognisable of such stars, one of the immortals in sport, Ronaldinho world champion in1997 at U17, world champion at 2002, scoring a great goal against England and a key part of the confederations cup win in 2005 he was captain and man of the match, at club level he started the emergence of the Barca team in club football, his reward a two time world player of the year( 2005 and 2006) he also won the ballon d’or, a delight for all genuine football or sports lover, breath taking at his best, his skill set was an abundant and mesmerising work of art and created several defining moments, always with a smile.
For players to achieve such success at those levels is one of the actualization of FIFA, empowerment through sports.
THE BEST FROM THE REST-FOOTBALL GRAND SLAM
The first country to achieve the national grand slam, a worthy and great milestone is the French
federation, the last piece of the puzzle was unravelled in 2013 they won the U20 world cup with Pogba, Kondogbia,Veretout their first trophy was won in 1984 which was the European championship and they added the Olympic gold the same year. The senior world cup was won for the first time at home in 1998 and the U17 was won in 2001.
For the Brazilians, the journey started when the great team with Pele at only 17 years swept the world at the senior world cup beating sweden in the finals. they won three of four editions between 1958 and 1970. they added the U20 in 1983, The U17 and especially the Olympics was becoming elusive but that was sorted out with a win in 1997 they retained it in 1999 and added a third in 2003 they have won four titles. Some nations like Brazil or Argentina (still trying to win)may argue that tournaments like the U17 would have been won a long
time ago if it had started during the era of their best players like Pele or Maradona, the Brazilians usually sent their best players to the Olympics ,Romario and Bebeto in 1988 (Romario became top scorer with a record 7)
goals) Ronaldo, Bebeto(top scorer in Atlanta 1996) and Roberto Carlos in 1996, Ronaldinho in 2008,
This strategy paid off first in 2016 with Neymar and in 2020 Dani Alves a multiple champion the most
decorated player of all time helping them in retaining the Olympics.
COUNTRY U17 U20 U23/OLYMPICS SENIOR WORLD CUP
FIFA has developed a structure for development and nations have benefited by establishing a
stranglehold where they can, at different levels and also creating value for their players career at club level.
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