What is the Golden Boy award? Shortlist, rules and past winners

FT Desk
  • FT Desk
  • Updated: 23 Sep 2022 21:49 BST
  • 6 min read
FT Desk Updated: 23 Sep 2022 21:49 BST 6 min read
Pedri, Barcelona, Golden Boy

The Golden Boy award is given by sports journalists to the best young footballer in Europe over a calendar year.

There have been many recipients of the prestigious prize who have gone on to have superstar careers, so it is an accolade that is held in high regard.

What is the Golden Boy award?

The prize was established by Italian sports newspaper Tuttosport in 2003, with Ajax starlet Rafael van der Vaart taking home the inaugural trophy.

The rules are simple. All nominees must be under the age of 21 and play in a European top division, with most past winners coming from the Premier League, Bundesliga, La Liga, Serie A or Ligue 1.

Traditionally, a player can only win the award once, so once Golden Boy status has been achieved, the award ensures attention can move to other young players who deserve to be highlighted.

This stops, for example, a star 17-year-old winning the award three years on the bounce.

The award names the player who the jury believes is the brightest young talent in world football.

How is the Golden Boy award decided and who votes?

The winner of the award is determined by a vote. Each voter will allocate 10 points to the player they deem most impressive, with 7 for second, 5 for third, 3 for fourth and 1 for fifth.

Voters will be sports journalists from a host of Europe’s most well-respected newspapers, including Bild (Germany), l’Equipe (France) and Marca (Spain).

When is the Golden Boy trophy awarded?

A shortlist of players is comprised every year with the final list of candidates usually available around October and the award ceremony typically taking place in November.

Golden Boy shortlist for 2022

The shortlist for the 2022 Golden Boy award has now been narrowed down.

The 60 players in alphabetical order are;

Karim-David ADEYEMI, BORUSSIA DORTMUND

Lucien Jefferson AGOUMÉ, INTER

Krjstian ASSLANI, INTER

Alejandro Martínez BALDÉ, BARCELONA

Jude Victor William BELLINGHAM, BORUSSIA DORTMUND

Stipe BIUK, HAJDUK

Brian Ebenezer Adjei BROBBEY, AJAX

Eduardo Celmi CAMAVINGA, REAL MADRID

Camavinga has already made a huge impact at Madrid

Camavinga has already made a huge impact at Madrid

Matteo CANCELLIERI, VERONA

Carney Chibueze CHUKWUEMEKA, CHELSEA

Francisco Fernandes da CONCEIÇÃO, PORTO

Karamoko Kader DEMBÉLÉ, STADE BREST

Amar DEDIC, RB SALZBURG

Manuel Jadon da Silva DIEGO MOREIRA, BENFICA

Hugo EKITIKE, PSG

Anthony David Junior ELANGA, MANCHESTER UNITED

Harvey Daniel James Scott ELLIOTT, LIVERPOOL

Sebastiano ESPOSITO, ANDERLECHT

Leandro Freitas Gouveia FÁBIO CARVALHO, LIVERPOOL

Daniel Soares FÁBIO SILVA, ANDERLECHT

Anssumane Vieira FATI, BARCELONA

Alejandro Ferreira GARNACHO, MANCHESTER UNITED

Pablo Martín Páez Gavira GAVI, BARCELONA

Degnand Wilfried GNONTO, ZURICH

Ryan Jiro GRAVENBERCH, BAYERN

Ryan Gravenberch is one of the contenders for the award

Ryan Gravenberch is one of the contenders for the award

Josko GVARDIOL, RB LEIPZIG

Pereira HENRIQUE ARAÚJO, BENFICA

Aaron Buchanan HICKEY, BOLOGNA

Piero Martín Reyna HINCAPIÉ, BAYER LEVERKUSEN

Adam HLOZEK, BAYER LEVERKUSEN

Ki-Jana Delano HOEVER, WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS

Arnaud Muinga KALIMUENDO, PARIS SG

Ansgar KNAUFF, EINTRACHT FRANKFURT

Castello Junior LUKEBA, OLYMPIQUE LYON

Chukwunonso Tristan MADUEKE, PSV EINDHOVEN

Eliot MATAZO, AS MONACO

Bjorn MEIJER, CLUB BRUGGE

Fabio MIRETTI, JUVENTUS

Youssoufa MOUKOKO, BORUSSIA DORTMUND

Yunus Dimoara MUSAH, VALENCIA

Jamal MUSIALA, BAYERN

Jamal Musiala is a huge talent

Jamal Musiala is a huge talent

Nicolás Iglesias NICO GONZÁLEZ, BARCELONA

Nicholas Arthuer NICO WILLIAMS, ATHLETIC BILBAO

Alexandre Tavares NUNO MENDES, PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN

Guilherme Gonçalves PAULO BERNARDO, BENFICA

Pedro González López PEDRI, BARCELONA

Yéremi Jesús Santos PINO, VILLARREAL

Jesus Carvalho REINIER, REAL MADRID

Yeremi Pino is one of the wonderkids of La Liga

Yeremi Pino is one of the wonderkids of La Liga

Giovanni Alejandro REYNA, BORUSSIA DORTMUND

Pape Matar SARR, TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR

Giorgio SCALVINI, ATALANTA

Benjamin SESKO, RED BULL SALZBURG

Matías Malvano SOULÉ, JUVENTUS

Mathys TEL, BAYERN

Jan Uwe THIELMANN, COLOGNE

Barreiros de Melo TIAGO TOMÁS, STUTTGART

Malik Leon TILLMAN, BAYERN

Iyenoma Destiny UDOGIE, UDINESE

Mattia VITI, NICE

Kenan YILDIZ, JUVENTUS

Nicola ZALEWSKI, ROMA

This 60-man list will then be cut to 40 before a final shortlist of 20 is released.

Who won the Golden Boy award in 2021?

Barcelona midfielder Pedri picked up the Golden Boy award for 2021, dominating the voting.

“Of the forty journalists whose vote represented the most illustrious newspapers of our continent, 24 placed him in first place of their preferences, another nine in second position and three in third,” Xavier Jacobelli, CEO of Tuttosport, which organises the award, revealed.

Golden Boy award: Past winners

Lionel Messi, Wayne Rooney and Sergio Aguero are some of the players who won the award as youngsters and went on to become global stars.

There are some other impressive names among the past victors. Some other winners, though, did not go on to achieve their full potential.

That makes looking back through Golden Boy history an intriguing topic, with a real mix of names and outcomes proving that bursting onto the scene at a young age is not always a guarantee of long-term success.

Year NameCountry
2003Rafael van der VaartNetherlands
2004Wayne RooneyEngland
2005Lionel MessiArgentina
2006Cesc FabregasSpain
2007Sergio AgueroArgentina
2008AndersonBrazil
2009Alexandre PatoBrazil
2010Mario BalotelliItaly
2011Mario GotzeGermany
2012IscoSpain
2013Paul PogbaFrance
2014Raheem SterlingEngland
2015Anthony Martial France
2016Renato Sanches Portugal
2017Kylian Mbappe France
2018Matthijs de LigtNetherlands
2019Joao FelixPortugal
2020Erling HaalandNorway
2021PedriSpain

As with most awards, the forward players tend to take centre stage, with 10 of the previous 19 winners being attacking stars.

Matthijs de Ligt became the first defender to win in 2018 after a series of stellar performances in Ajax’s fairytale Champions League run and seven midfielders have also come out on top.

A goalkeeper has never finished in first place.

France have produced the most winners (three) - Kylian Mbappe, Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial - along with Spain, with Pedri joining Cesc Fabregas and Isco as winners.

There has never been a winner from Belgium despite their recent golden generation.

Manchester United are the club who have had the most winners. Three players have triumphed for the Red Devils: Wayne Rooney (2004), Anderson (2008) and Martial (2015). They have a fourth Golden Boy in Pogba, but he was with Juventus when he triumphed in 2013.

Fascinatingly, Cristiano Ronaldo was never named as European football's Golden Boy.

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