Where are they now? The 10 cursed nominees from the 2013 Golden Boy award
For almost two decades, Italian newspaper Tuttosport has been giving out its prestigious Golden Boy award for the most promising young footballer in the European game.
Jude Bellingham has picked up the award in 2023, while recent years have seen the likes of Pedri, Gavi and Erling Haaland voted Europe’s hottest prospect.
Most of the prodigiously talented youngsters that rise to the top of their game and get nominated as the Golden Boy go on to enjoy stellar careers at the very top, but some don’t quite reach their potential. We’ve taken a look back at the top 10 players that were nominated for the award a decade ago, back in 2013, and how their careers have panned out since.
10. Mauro Icardi
On the one hand, Icardi scored over 100 Serie A goals for Inter and won the Capocannoniere award for the league’s top scorer twice before eventually making a glamour move to PSG to play alongside Neymar and Kylian Mbappe. That sounds like a successful enough career, right?
On the other hand, he’s only 30 and spent last season loaned out to Galatasaray, Inter only won the Scudetto once they got rid, and his off-field exploits are arguably more notable than anything he’s achieved on the pitch.
Difficult to judge. The one thing for sure is that Icardi’s career hasn’t quite panned out as it might have, although he is banging them in with regularity out in Istanbul.
9. Viktor Fischer
Having broken through the fabled youth ranks at Ajax after moving from Midtjylland, an 18-year-old Fischer broke through and scored 10 goals in his debut season.
He was rated as one of the most exciting young forwards around, but he has struggled to live up that billing ever since. The 2012-13 campaign remains the only season in which Fischer has hit double figures for league goals.
The Dane failed to score at all in short stints at Middlesbrough and Mainz before returning to his home country with FC Copenhagen in 2018 before later stints with Antwerp and AIK.
Fischer announced his retirement in the summer, having struggled to ever get over his regular injuries.
A lengthy contract dispute with boyhood club Sporting Lisbon saw much-hyped wonderkid Bruma make the eyebrow-raising decision to sign for Turkish Super Lig giants Galatasaray at the age of 18.
The Guinea-Bissau-born winger represented Portugal throughout the youth ranks and he eventually received nine caps for the senior team, but he never quite hit the heights expected.
A nomadic career was Bruma represent the likes of RB Leipzig, PSV, Olympiacos and Fenerbahce before he returned to Portugal with Braga earlier this year.
7. Adnan Januzaj
Oh, Adnan. A bright spark in the misery of the David Moyes era at Manchester United, Januzaj swiftly made a name for himself with a series of electric cameos in the 2012-13 campaign.
His emergence sparked a tussle over which national team he’d represent, with the pick of England, Belgium, Albania, Serbia and Turkey. In the end he chose Belgium, but only made 15 appearances and never really moved beyond the fringes of Roberto Martinez’s squad.
Januzaj moved to Sevilla last summer after five years at Real Sociedad but he struggled to settle and was promptly loaned out to Istanbul Basaksehir.
We’re sensing a Turkish Super Lig theme emerging here…
OTD 13 – Januzaj, Januzaj, Januzaj! A star is born as Adnan Januzaj scores two fine goals that beat Sunderland. pic.twitter.com/LZo3lhCsCD
— United Rewind (@unitedrewind) October 5, 2022
6. Yaya Sanogo
Yaya Sanogo once lit up the Emirates with a brilliant four-goal haul against Benfica. In the Emirates Cup. Oh.
It says a lot that lighting up a pre-season friendly tournament was probably the high point of Sanogo’s career to date.
After a good long year out of the game, the French striker is now turning out for Urartu in the… *checks notes*… Armenian Premier League. Sounds about right.
This one’s a fair enough shout. In the summer of 2013, Marquinhos moved from Roma to PSG – where he’s been a stalwart of their domestic dominance.
The Brazilian centre-back has won eight Ligue 1 titles and a further 12 French cups over the past decade. He’s also earned 82 caps for Brazil, winning both Olympic Gold and the Copa America with the Selecao.
4. Raphael Varane
Everyone knew that Varane was destined to be a superstar when he joined Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid from Lens in 2011.
Four Champions Leagues and one World Cup later, he’s certainly delivered on that early promise.
Varane also helped end Manchester United’s six-year trophy drought with the League Cup last term. Watch this space for whether more silverware follows.
3. Julian Draxler
Having once taken Leandro Damiao’s crown as the undisputed king of the gossip column, Draxler never got around to making that much-rumoured transfer to Arsenal.
Instead the German winger moved from Schalke to Wolfsburg to PSG. He’s made almost 200 appearances for the Parisiens and won countless trophies alongside Marquinhos, but there’s been a sense his career has been drifting in recent years.
The 29-year-old spent last season out on loan at Benfica, who won the Primeira Liga title, but he only featured on the periphery. Nowadays he’s turning out for Qatar Stars League club Al Ahli.
2. Romelu Lukaku
Still on Chelsea’s books the first time around back in 2013, Lukaku was catching the eye with prolific loan spells at West Brom and Everton.
He famously scored a hat-trick against Manchester United in Sir Alex Ferguson’s final match and kicked on from there, becoming Belgium’s all-time top goalscorer and earning a series of glamour moves – Manchester United, Inter, Chelsea – yet there somehow still remains a sense that Lukaku’s career has had more disappointments than triumphs.
— Premier League (@premierleague) December 15, 2016
1. Paul Pogba
You can’t say that any player who played a starring role in a World Cup victory has been underwhelming.
But at club level, things have never really gotten much better than his Golden Boy-winning first stint at Juventus.
The mercurial midfielder won four successive league titles and reached the Champions League final with the Old Lady. He certainly had his moments across his six years at Manchester United but it lacked consistency and left little by way of legacy. And his return to Turin has thus far been a nightmare of injury hell followed by a doping ban.
It’s getting to the point where we’re starting to forget what a joy to watch he was when he deservedly picked up this award 10 years ago.