Every World Cup produces a slew of new stars who set the world alight on the biggest stage. Most notable was Pele in 1958 when he scored a hat trick in the semi final and two more goals in the final for Brazil's first Cup a few months short of his 18th birthday. Here are 10 of my picks for a break out World Cup. Some are more obvious that others and some might flame out, depending on how their team does. They are in no particular order.
Busquets is a rangy midfielder who broke into the Barcelona team at 20 and has become a regular fixture for a team loaded with enough talent to win the World Cup by itself. He has outstanding vision,and distribution with a maturity that belies his age and experience. In a team loaded with talent he is sure to make his mark in South Africa and for years to come.
N;Koulou is a central defender with Monaco in France who became a regular for them at 18. He enhanced his reputation at the 2008 Olympics and has since become an essential component in the team. He is versatile and can play both as a central defender and a holding midfielder. He has both height and strength and should anchor the Cameroon's defense for years to come.
Suarez has already cemented himself in the Uruguayan squad as Diego Forlan's strike partner. He is a world class striker with great technique and a powerful shot. He also has height and is a threat in the air as well. In two years he has become Ajax's best striker scoring 28 goals last season. In 30 internationals he already has 10 goals and is sure to add more in South Africa.
Higuain is an obvious choice having come of age in the recently completed Spanish season. He scored 27 goals, one more than Ronaldo and in my opinion outshone his more illustrious strike partner. He has all the moves but his biggest asset is his coolness in front of goal, something possessed by few, especially at his age. With only 5 caps he is ready to take his Real Madrid form and show the world what he's made of.
Known as ‘El Niño Maravilla’ (‘the Boy Wonder’) he is a great dribbler with poise and pace. He plays for Udinese in Italy and helped them avoid relegation this past season. He signed for Udinese despite being pursued by Werder Bremen, Manchester United and Bayern Munich . He has already scored 11 goals in 29 matches for Chile and was instrumental in their easy stroll to qualification.
Everyone knows Park Ji Sung who has thrived at Manchester United but Lee will play as important a role as Park if South Korea are too succeed. He is coming off a brilliant season at Bolton Wanders where he won Player of the Year and helped stave off relegation in his first season, no mean feat considering how hard it is to adapt to the Premier League. He is a speedy winger with excellent vision and creates opportunities for the front men. With 24 caps and 3 goals he is already well established in the South Korean team.
At age 22 he has already established himself as the superstar of the Slovakian team as well as being made captain. He plays for Napoli in Italy where he has become a fan favorite. He is the key to their midfield as he is for Slovakia with a keen sense of distribution and a willingness to track back to defend. He is happy to shoot from long range and already has 8 international goals in 32 games. If Slovakia is to advance, he will be the key.
Alongside Steven Pienaar he makes up the heart and soul of the South African team. He has speed and energy and reads the game as well as Pienaar. His dribbling ability is phenomenal and he can glide past defenders with ease. He also takes most of the corners and many of the free kicks. He still plays locally but if he plays to his potential he will be playing in one of the big leagues in Europe next season.
Oezil could well be the future of German soccer. He is a technically gifted attacking midfielder who made the leap into the national team without missing a beat after dominating the European U-21 championships in 2009, leading Germany to a 4-0 win in the final against England. He has only played 10 games for Germany but is assured a long career at the highest level. He has the guile and invention that can turn a game on its head.
It's still not certain how much a role Didier Drogba will be able to play in the Ivory Coast's two tough opening games but fit or not, Gervinho will have to step up and produce the same talent that has made him one of the top players in the French League. Blessed with natural talent he also has technique and pace to trouble the best defenders. He played in just 3 qualifying games and scored 2 goals and will, in all likelihood be Drogba's successor when he leaves the international scene.