The FIFA Under-17 World Cup is just about three months away and preparations are underway and in full swing in Europe for the Indian team. The Under-17s are on an exposure trip to Europe, playing high-quality youth teams and performing creditably.
Most of the credit there, however, must go to the new head coach of India Under-17s, Luis Norton de Matos. Norton de Matos’s reputation as a prominent youth coach helped him land the India job, and now his team is showing signs of being a complete unit that works together, in attack and defence.
Norton de Matos’s status as a foremost youth coach has been ratified by Jose Mourinho of all coaches, and his track record is also a proof of that.
Among a high-profile portfolio of coveted young stars are three players for whom top European clubs have broken the bank. There is a reason for India to be excited about the upcoming Under-17 World Cup and it is Norton de Matos. Let us take a look at the five top young stars he handed debuts to.
#1 Victor Lindelof
Lindelof is all over the papers these days after his transfer from Benfica to Manchester United was confirmed this week. At 35 million euros, Lindelof is not quite a steal but Mourinho is not known to do bad deals, Papy Djilobodji aside. Lindelof made his mark at Benfica after his move from Vasteras in 2012 and Norton de Matos handed the Swede his first taste of Portuguese football when he handed him his first senior appearance against Desportivo Aves in the Portuguese second division for Benfica B.
What is interesting to note here is that Lindelof soon caught the eye of Benfica boss Jorge Jesus and made himself a mainstay of the Eagles’ senior team. On his debut, Lindelof was on the pitch for only three minutes after coming on for another wonder kid who has since gone on to play on the biggest stage. More about him on the next page...