Notable winners of both FIFA U20 World Cup and FIFA World Cup

Only a handful of players have managed to win both the FIFA U20 World Cup and the senior equivalent, including Lionel Messi and Paul Pogba.

The U20 World Cup has just come to an end. The hosts Argentina might have failed to follow their senior team’s footsteps, but the tournament remained exciting with the emergence of another new champion. Such marks the new trend in this competition which began in Egypt 2009. There has always been a new team lifting the first trophy in each edition, except one, in 2011. That was the last time Brasil clinched their fifth title. 

Throughout the history of the tournament, which was known as FIFA World Youth Championship, not many stars have won it and the senior level. There are even very few who were named the Best Player award in both. One of them is unquestionably Lionel Messi. Surprisingly, Juventus forward Paul Pogba, whose 2022/23 season was derailed by injury, is also on the list. 

Who are notable winners of the FIFA U20 World Cup & FIFA World Cup? 

  1. Samuel Umtiti (2013 & 2018)

The 29-year old center-back is one of the few players who lifted the trophy to have won both the U20 and senior World Cup. He won the former in Turkey 2013 and the latter in Russia 2018. In 2013, Umtiti featured in five of the seven games. Unfortunately, he missed out the final after being booked at the semifinal while beating Ghana 2-1. 

In Russia 2018, the former Lyon man was the mainstay of Didier Deschamps’ side. He was in the line up in six matches, scoring the only goal at the semifinal against Belgium. Regrettably, his career has recently been marred by a string of injuries. Umtiti has just returned from a loan spell in Lecce.

  1. Xavi Hernandez (1999 & 2010)

The current Barcelona boss was the key figure in Spain’s golden generation. He thrived in both U20 World Cup 1999 and World Cup 2010. Interestingly, both were held in Africa. In Nigeria 1999, Xavi bagged two goals plus one assist in the final in Spain’s 4-0 defeat of Japan. In South Africa, he did not net a single goal but registered two assists, including one at the semifinal. His delivery from the corner led to Carles Puyol’s header which broke the deadlock against Germany.

  1. Carlos Dunga (1983 & 1994)

The Brasilian skipper in the 1990s caught the public’s attention at the global stage in U20 World Cup 1983 in Mexico. He netted one against Czekoslovakia at the quarterfinal and brought his team to clinch their first ever title. In the final, Brasil thumped Argentina 1-0. 

At the senior level, Dunga appeared in three editions from 1990 to 1998. He also led Seleção to reach the final twice, USA 1994 – which they won on penalties – and France 1998, in which they were well beaten by hosts France. 

  1. Paul Pogba (2013 & 2018)

The versatile midfielder did not only play in both levels, but was named The Best Player as well. Pogba made considerable contributions in Turkey 2013, where he featured in six games, scored one and won the Golden Ball award. He was also the captain in the tournament. 

Meanwhile, in Russia 2018, he was also the key man in France after being awarded The Best Young Player in Brazil 2014. The former Manchester United man scored one in the final plus made one assist in the opener. 

  1. Angel Di Maria (2007 & 2022)

The Argentine winger was one of the bright stars in the 2007 edition alongside Sergio Aguero and Ever Banega. He started in five games in Canada 2007, registering three goals and two assists. Unfortunately, he missed the final due to an injury.

Meanwhile, in Qatar 2022, Di Maria also played five times with one goal in the final and two assists throughout the competition. The former Real Madrid and PSG man was also the key figure in the 2014 World Cup run. Once again, he had to be sidelined in the final after taking a knock at the quarterfinal. 

  1. Claudio Taffarel (1985 & 1994)

The Brazilian shot stopper was always the star between the sticks. He was in the line up all matches while helping young Seleção snatch their second title in 1985. Taffarel replicated his form in USA 1994 for Brazil’s fourth title. The former Parma and Galatasaray man was the number one goalie in three senior World Cup finals (1990-1998).

  1. Diego Maradona (1979 & 1986)

Diego Maradona is undeniably the first World Cup winner at both levels. El Diego was also named the Best Players in World Youth Championship 1979 and World Cup 1986. He racked up five goals and four assists in the former and five goals plus five assists in the latter. 

  1. Lionel Messi (2005 & 2022) 

Last but not least, there is always a place for Lionel Messi. Just like Maradona, he won the Golden Ball award and the title in U20 World Cup 2005 and World Cup 2022. Netherlands 2005 marked Messi’s first ever appearance at the international fixtures. He bagged six goals and set up two in the tournament. At the senior level, Messi did better with seven goals and three assists. What’s more, the former Barcelona and PSG star was also awarded the MVP in Brazil 2014 but failed to lift the trophy. 

Notable mentions: Iker Casillas (1999 & 2010), Florian Thauvin and Alphonse Areola (2013 & 2018) and Bebeto (1983 & 1994) 

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