Rising stars to watch out for in South Africa
Young and talented, a handful of increasingly celebrated footballers are set to forge the future of the sport. France 24 snaps close ups of the rising stars who aim to set the World Cup on fire. (Part 1)
Kevin-Prince Boateng - Ghana
Born March 6, 1987
Born to a Ghanaian father and a German mother, Kevin-Prince Boateng developed his world-class skills on Germany’s national under-20 teams. The powerful Portsmouth midfielder was recently given FIFA’s green light to represent Ghana in the World Cup. A June 23 match against the Mannschaft could be highly contentious: it was Boateng’s tackle that sidelined German captain Michael Ballack on May 15. Moreover, Kevin-Prince’s brother Jerome is playing for the German squad. These are just two of the many reasons to keep your eyes on this remarkable player.
Abou Diaby - France
Born May 11, 1986
The 24-year-old Gunner (pictured with ball above) was one of the few on the French football team to make revelatory performances during ‘Les Bleus’ warm-up matches. In each of the three games Diaby proved he is no mere substitute. Blessed with a gift for recovering the ball at midfield, Diaby can quickly bring the game forward, break through the defence or connect with a striker at full sprint. Exhibiting both physical strength and technical prowess, the young Frenchman has been very effective in the Premier League. Tallying six goals for Arsenal, Diaby is lauded as Patrick Vieira’s natural successor at the club. French fans hope this legacy also holds true for Les Bleus.
Angel Di Maria - Argentina
Born February 14, 1988
A centrepiece of Benfica Lisbon, this left-footed striker has been approached by several major European major clubs, including Real Madrid. Spry and frighteningly accurate, Di Maria dominates on the Argentinan national team's left-wing. Even coach and former-star player Diego Maradona admits to being an adoring fan. Already a World Cup champion and Olympic gold medallist with Argentina’s under-20 teams, Di Maria hopes to seize yet another international title at the end of July.
Marek Hamsik - Slovakia
Born July 27, 1987
An invaluable player for Naples, where he has honed his skills since 2007, Marek Hamsik is already a Serie A star. His wide vision of the field and physical strength make him Slovakia’s leading man, despite his young age. Hamsik has been somewhat overlooked as a player because of his club’s absence from European tournaments, but he hopes to change that during the World Cup. South Africa will certainly be a window to showcase this talent.
Claudio Marchisio - Italy
Born January 19, 1986
Exit Del Piero, Totti and Cassano; enter Marchisio. At just 24, Claudio Marchiso is the future of the Squadra Azzurra. Already a star at Juventus, this midfielder provided some of the club’s rare highlights this season. Now all of Italy is looking to the young man, knowing that his technical expertise and ability to accelerate the game can turn around any match.