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Pele to Endrick: Five teen talents that lit up Brazil

Brazil is unparalleled when it comes to football success and fervour, and for many the sport itself is synonymous with the Brazilian national team.

The five-times World Cup winners are renowned for their “jogo bonito” philosophy and reputation of churning out the world’s most talented players, the latest being 17-year-old starlet Endrick who scored against England on Saturday.

AFP Sport highlights five teenagers who have donned the famous yellow jersey:

– Endrick –
The latest off the national production line of extravagantly talented attackers, Endrick made history at the home of football Wembley when he scored the winner for Brazil against England on Saturday in just his third international appearance.

Aged 17 years, eight months and two days, Endrick became the youngest male goalscorer for club or country at the stadium when he opened his account for the Selecao nine minutes after coming off the bench in the 1-0 victory.

The Real Madrid-bound forward is already a two-time Brazilian Serie A champion and has been hailed as the country’s new golden boy since making his debut for Palmeiras at the tender age of 16.

“If he keeps up the attitude he has shown up to now, he will be a very important name in Brazilian football and world football,” said Brazil coach Dorival Junior.

Pele 3

‘King’ Pele, the genius, won three world Cup titles for Brazil

– Pele –
The late Pele remains the eternal benchmark against whom all new Brazilian stars are inevitably compared.

He became Brazil’s youngest ever goalscorer at 16 years, eight months and 14 days and went on to net 77 times for his country — the second most in Selecao yellow.

His international career was marked by World Cup glory, winning the country’s first title in Sweden 1958 aged 17 before earning a second and third Jules Rimet trophy in 1962 and 1970.

ronaldo de Limaronaldo de Lima

Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima

– Ronaldo –
Ronaldo made his debut for Brazil in 1994 and became the country’s third youngest ever goalscorer when he netted against Iceland aged 17 years, seven months and 12 days.

After a heartbreaking loss in the 1998 World Cup final when he fell mysteriously ill before kick-off, the striker made amends four years later in South Korea/Japan scoring both goals in the final against Germany as Brazil claimed a record fifth world title.

A legend of the game across the globe, Ronaldo earned 99 caps and scored 62 goals across a 17-year international career.

NeymarNeymar

Brazil’s forward Neymar celebrates after he scored a penalty goal during the international football friendly match between South Korea and Brazil at Seoul World Cup Stadium in Seoul on June 2, 2022. (Photo by ANTHONY WALLACE / AFP)

– Neymar –
The greatest goalscorer in the history of the Selecao, with 79 goals in 128 games, Neymar is likely coming to the end of his career with the national team but, despite not yet delivering a sixth World Cup, he has lived up to the hype since making his international bow aged 18.

With the weight of the country on his shoulders as Brazil hosted the 2014 World Cup, Neymar was imperious and scored four goals in five matches.

But disaster struck in the quarter-finals when he was injured against Colombia and without their talisman, the hosts then crumbled to a 7-1 defeat to Germany in the semi-finals.

Alexandre PatoAlexandre Pato
– Alexandre Pato –
In most cases, the weight of football expectations in the seventh largest country on earth is too great for young shoulders to bear. One such example of this was the promising Alexandre Pato.

When Pato scored the winner as an 18-year-old debutant seconds after coming off the bench against Sweden in 2008 — the country a teenage Pele led Brazil to World Cup victory against 50 years prior — many could not resist making the comparison.

But it was not to be and the fleet-footed centre-forward would go on to win just 27 caps, his last coming in 2013 at only 24 years of age.

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