by Manuel Queiroz

LISBON – Not all the Golden Boys become Golden Adults. That’s life, that’s football. Even Golden Boys can lose track and do not live up to the expectations. Destiny is not always in our hands, it can depend on many factors and difficult to manage. Sometimes I have witnessed fellow journalists criticize Tuttosport’s Golden Boy selection because the chosen players do not always reach the pinnacle of their careers. It’s unfair. A distinction is a photo, not a film, or a docuseries so praised nowadays. It represents a pivotal moment for a young prospect, a player in development.

The current selection process ensures that the most promising talents of the beautiful game are duly recognized. It begins with a very large group of names that is carefully sifted to a very small group. Football enthusiasts and professionals must closely follow the process to identify emerging talents from academies and training grounds across Europe.

Anyway, from the 20 previuos winners, from van der Vaart, to Renato Sanches or João Félix, from Anderson, Pato, Balotelli or Cesc Fàbregas, or Götze or a guy named Messi, all the names became Champions. That’s Tuttosport to praise and all the people they involve in the making. This process, professional, well thought out, has got good results. When newspapers face enormous threats, Tuttosport clearly makes a difference. Football grew with the newspapers and still needs them because they are reliable and accountable, they have an experience of generations. And because journalists work under rules so smart that all the people can undestand. I hope Tuttosport can keep the Golden Boy Award as interesting and dignified as it was until now. With the help of my fellow journalists.

The flow of Portuguese talent is not to stop. António Silva and João Neves (Benfica) are now established first team players. Silva, a central defender, has just completed 44 games in a row. He’s dubbed the new Rúben Dias. Benfica has other important young players, like the Italian Cher Ndour but he still has to make an impact at first team level. At Sporting, Youssef Chermiti is a great prospect as a striker and he’s only 19, or Dário Essugo, still 18, is a string holding midfielder, whereas at Porto there are two players who for only a few months cannot enter this year’s candidate list: the brazilian winger Gabriel Veron, 20, for whom the club payed 10M euros to Palmeiras a year ago (but did not entirely live up to expectations this year) and Bernardo Folha, 21, the son of ex-international winger António Folha, his coach in the Porto B team. And other very young talents are blossoming in our football academies like for example Rodrigo Gomes of Sporting Braga, third-placed in the last league behind Benfica and Porto.