Looking for FIFA U-20 World Cup highlights? These are the best moments in FIFA’s premier youth soccer tournament. Much like college basketball, the U-20 represents a purer form of the sport. There are no enormous paychecks and it’s not about the brand-name players. The teams that win are the teams that make the sport work for them. Here are a few of the FIFA U-20’s historical highlights.
- Communism silences democracy. In the first ever U-20 World Cup—1977's tournament in Tunisia—the Soviet Union stunned the democratic world into silence by taking the top prize. The final game between Mexico and the USSR is a U-20 World Cup highlight for the great victory of the Red States, and a stinging blow against capitalism (which, let’s not mince words, is essentially synonymous with democracy).
- Argentina wins in Japan. Argentina’s tournament victory in the 1979 edition of the U-20 World Cup, which took place in the Land of the Rising Sun, was a highlight for a number of reasons. To begin with, a scrappy South American squad (who had won the tournament a record six times as of 2010) from a developing nation took the title from the monolithic Soviet Union in the final game, proving once and for all that a love of the game and a ball means more than rigorous training and state-enforced atheism. Secondly, the Argentinean side was led by a very young, promising fellow called Diego Maradona, who went on to become one of football’s all-time great players.
- Mexico breaks attendance records. The Mexico U-20 World Cup of 1983 was a highlight in the showcase’s history. Thanks to the attentiveness of the media coverage in the host country, this FIFA tournament destroyed the attendance records of the previous U-20s. The epic final between Brazil and Argentina was played before more than 100,000 people. Over a million people attended the games across Mexico, elevating the tournament to a new level of global awareness.
- 1997’s future all-stars. The 1997 Malaysian edition of the FIFA U-20 World Cup, a highlight of the tournament, was a future-all-star-laden affair with no lack of excitement. English superstar Michael Owen, and French greats Thierry Henry and David Trezeguet, took to the field, only to be spanked back to Europe by squads of unknowns from Argentina (the eventual winners) and Uruguay.
- Ghana wins for Africa. Golden Ghana made history at 2009’s U-20 World Cup in Egypt by becoming the first African nation to take home the top prize. The underdog side fought hard through the tournament, beating four-time champions Brazil in a final-game shoot out. Ghana joined an exclusive group of only eight teams who have ever won the showcase in its eighteen editions. The African victory, eight months before the start of the South African World Cup 2010, heralded great things for the continent, and is a FIFA U-20 highlight.