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7 Youngest Players at the 2006 World Cup: Where Are They Now?

 
 
Zurich's Tunisian midfielder Yassine Chikhaoui (L) scores a penality kick past Apollon Limassol's Portuguese goalkeeper Bruno Vale during the UEFA Europa League Group A football match FC...

These are the seven youngest players to have played any amount of game time at the 2006 FIFA World Cup finals in Germany, ordered from oldest to youngest.

Here are the 7 youngest players at the 2006 World Cup: Where are they now?

7. Yassine Chikhaoui - Al Ahli

The seventh youngest player at the 2006 World Cup was Tunisian international Yassine Chikhaoui. Playing for ESS at the time, Chikhaoui was only 19 years and 8 months old when he featured in a Tunisian side which finished third in their group. Chikhaoui was a really gifted attacking midfielder who was excellent on the ball, but his career has been plagued by injuries. He spent eight years with FC Zurich between 2007 and 2015, but has since been playing in the Middle East, currently with Al Ahli in Qatar.

6. Ryan Babel - Besiktas

Ryan Babel of Ajax gives instructions to team mates during the  Eredivisie match between Ajax Amsterdam and SC Heerenveen at Amsterdam Arena on April 19, 2013 in Amsterdam, Netherlands.Ryan Babel of Ajax gives instructions to team mates during the Eredivisie match between Ajax Amsterdam and SC Heerenveen at Amsterdam Arena on April 19, 2013 in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Another 19-year-old who featured at the 2006 World Cup and later played in the Middle East, Ryan Babel is now back in Europe and impressing with Besiktas. The flying Dutchman renowned for his pacy runs down the left flank, Babel made his name with Ajax, and his only appearance at the finals was as a substitute in a 0-0 draw with Argentina in the group stages. He would go on to star for the likes of Liverpool and Hoffenheim, and in 2017, the Besiktas man was recalled into a struggling Netherlands national team after a six year absence.

5. Johan Djourou - Antalyaspor

There are Premier League connections aplenty in this seven, and in fifth place is former Arsenal centre-back Johan Djourou. His World Cup bow came at the age of 19 in a Round of 16 tie with Ukraine, a game which has been described as the dullest in World Cup history. Djourou’s side drew 0-0 before failing to convert a single penalty and were subsequently sent packing. The young centre-back spent almost a decade in the Arsenal first team, although he only actually made a total of 140 first team appearances in that time. He followed that up with three years at Hamburg in Germany, before joining current club Antalyaspor in 2017. Djourou is in the Swiss squad once more for the 2018 World Cup, although he was benched for Switzerland’s tournament opener against Brazil.

4. Aaron Lennon - Burnley

James Morrison of West Bromwich Albion , Aaron Lennon of Burnley battle for possesion during the Premier League match between West Bromwich Albion and Burnley at The Hawthorns on March 31,...James Morrison of West Bromwich Albion , Aaron Lennon of Burnley battle for possesion during the Premier League match between West Bromwich Albion and Burnley at The Hawthorns on March 31,...

England had the youngest player at the entire 2006 World Cup in the form of 17-year-old Arsenal forward Theo Walcott, but he never found his way onto the pitch, so doesn’t feature in this seven. One teenager who did feature for England was Aaron Lennon, who played for Arsenal’s North London rivals Tottenham at the time. At his best, Lennon had absolutely searing pace and was a real threat down the right flank. Like so many pacy young English wingers, there were question marks about the quality of his final ball. Lennon won 21 caps for England and gave a decade of service to Tottenham, leaving for Everton in 2015 before signing for Burnley in January.

3. Cesc Fabregas - Chelsea

It was clear from a very early age that Cesc Fabregas was a special talent, and having become Arsenal’s youngest ever player at the age of 16, he became Spain’s youngest ever World Cup player at the 2006 World Cup, which began shortly after his 19th birthday. A backup at the start of the tournament, he was a starter by the end of it, impressing with an assist against Tunisia and replacing Marcos Senna for Spain’s knockout round defeat to France. He went on to captain Arsenal before returning to his boyhood club of Barcelona. Now aged 31 though, Fabregas has been with Chelsea since 2014, but he missed out on Spain’s squad for the finals in Russia.

2. Lionel Messi - Barcelona

(R-L) Angel Di Maria of Argentina and Lionel Messi of Argentina warm up during a training session at Stadium of Syroyezhkin sports school  on June 27, 2018 in Bronnitsy, Russia.(R-L) Angel Di Maria of Argentina and Lionel Messi of Argentina warm up during a training session at Stadium of Syroyezhkin sports school on June 27, 2018 in Bronnitsy, Russia.

The second youngest player at the 2006 World Cup is the only player in this seven to have featured so far at the 2018 World Cup. Messi was already very obviously a potentially world class player, although few could have predicted just how good he would go on to become. He impressed in Germany as an 18-year-old, scoring one and assisting another in his World Cup debut, and there was outrage in Argentina when he was dropped for the country's Quarter-Final defeat. Messi has so far been a one-club man, and is still at Barcelona, where he has scored 552 goals and made 212 assists in 637 appearances.

1. Assimiou Touré - Free Agent

The youngest player at the 2006 World Cup, you could be forgiven for never having heard of Assimiou Toure. Or if you’re like me, you could be forgiven for not even knowing how to pronounce his first name. A quick and versatile full-back who plays predominantly at left-back, Toure played for Togo at the 2006 World Cup before he’d even made his senior debut at club level. Part of the youth ranks at Bayer Leverkusen, he only ever made two league appearances for the Bundesliga side, and the now unattached 30-year-old has spent the rest of his career in the German lower leagues.

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