They say success breeds success, and that old adage certainly rings true in football. 

Success internationally at youth level has often enabled a country to build for the future with many of their young stars going on to cement their place in the senior ranks later on.

The 2014 World Cup winners, Germany, for instance, relied upon a core of players who were victorious at the 2009 Under-21 European Championships – Manuel Neuer, Benedikt Howedes, Jerome Boateng, Mats Hummels, Sami Khedira and Mesut Ozil – for their World Cup win five years later.

While in 2013 at the Under-20 World Cup, France won the title after defeating a resilient Uruguay side 4-1 on penalties and many members of that side have since graduated into Didier Deschamps’ senior squad.

That isn’t the case for all of those who featured regularly during France’s tournament win, however, and it is fair to say that their young prodigies have enjoyed mixed success since the final in Istanbul four years ago.

So, which players were able to push on since Istanbul and play a part in Didier Deschamps’ World Cup-winning senior squad.

Age: 25

Club: PSG

Senior caps: 2

Major honours: Ligue 1 (2012/13, 2017/18), Coupe de la Ligue (2016/17, 2017/18), Coupe de France (2016/17, 2017/18), Trophee des Champions (2016, 2017), World Cup (2018)


Areola excelled while on loan at Villarreal in the 2015-16 season, keeping 15 clean sheets in 32 games to help the club finish fourth in La Liga and has made 71 appearances in all competitions while challenging Kevin Trapp for the No.1 shirt at PSG over the past few seasons.

Having been included in the World Cup-winning squad, Areola became the first player to make his debut for France after lifting the trophy and did not disappoint, making a rare six saves against 2014 champions Germany.

Age: 25

Club: Getafe (on loan from Watford)

Senior apps: 0

Major honours: 0


A regular player for Les Bleus at all age group until the seniors, Dimitri Foulquier had been playing his football in La Liga with Granada – who, like Watford and Udinese, are owned by the Pozzo family.

While senior international football has so far eluded Foulquier, he performed well in La Liga over the past few years. He signed for Watford in the summer of 2017 but was immediately loaned out to RC Strasbourg last season – he made 19 appearances across all competitions.

Age: 24

Club: Everton (on loan from Chelsea)

Senior apps: 3

Major honours: Coupe de la Ligue (2012/13), Premier League (2014/15), (2016/17), League Cup (2014/15)


At 18, Kurt Zouma was the youngest member of the French squad in 2013 but he was an undisputed starter and key man in the back four nevertheless.

Just six months after lifting the U20 World Cup, Zouma made a £12m move to Chelsea where he has continued to develop at an impressive rate.

Zouma would have been in contention to make the France squad for Euro 2016 had he not been ruled out of the tournament with a knee ligament injury.

He has made 71 appearances for the Blues, though he has found starts hard to come by and spent last season on loan at Stoke City. However, his 34 Premier League appearances were not enough to keep the Potters in the league as the Staffordshire club suffered relegation.

Zouma has been excelling this season with the Toffees, so far making 27 appearances for the club across all competitions.

Age: 25

Club: Charlton Athletic

Senior apps: 0

Major honours: Taca de Portugal (2014/15)


Replacing Umtiti in France’s defence against Uruguay was his then-Lyon colleague Mouhamadou-Naby Sarr.

Sarr didn’t stick around at the French club for too long, though, moving to Sporting Lisbon in 2014 and then to Charlton Athletic a year later.

And following the Addicks’ relegation to League One, Sarr joined Ligue 2 side Red Star FC on a season-long loan deal in June 2016.

The player is now back at Charlton.

Age: 25

Club: Everton

Senior apps: 23

Major honours: Ligue 1 (2013/14, 2014/15), Coupe de la Ligue (2013-14, 2014/15), Copa del Rey (2016/17, 2017/18), Supercopa de Espana (2016), La Liga (2017/18)


Lucas Digne has graduated into France’s senior ranks, making 22 international appearances and he was in the squad for the 2014 World Cup as well as the 2016 European Championships.

The marauding full-back’s career stalled during a spell at PSG but he regained his best form while on loan with Roma two seasons ago, scoring three goals and creating 26 chances for Serie A’s third-placed team.

Digne joined Barcelona in the summer of 2016 and made 46 appearances for the Catalan giants before joing Kurt Zouma at the Toffess, although the left-back’s move was a permanent switch, and he has been one of the standout performers under Marco Silva this term.

Age: 26

Club: Valencia

Senior apps: 5

Major honours: Uefa Europa League (2013-14)


A talented midfield dynamo, Geoffrey Kondogbia has already accumulated a total of £76.50m in transfer fees after moving from Lens to Sevilla to Monaco to Inter and then to Valencia this summer.

Despite playing regularly at all of the aforementioned clubs, Kondogbia found it difficult to break into the France squad over the past couple of years, making five appearances for Les Bleus.

In fact, as all five of Kondogbia’s appearances were in friendlies, the midfielder was able to switch allegiance to the Central African Republic. He made his first appearance for his new nation, as captain, against Ivory Coast in October 2018.

Age: 25

Club: Manchester United

Senior apps: 64

Major honours: Serie A (2012/13, 2013/14, 2014/15, 2015/16), Coppa Italia (2014/15, 2015/16), League Cup (2016/17), Uefa Europa League (2016/17), World Cup (2018)


Paul Pogba captained France to their success and was given the Golden Ball award afterwards. Undoubtedly the most successful and high-profile member of the side, Pogba is the only current regular in Deschamps’ side.

A stuttering but successful penalty in the final shootout demonstrated that Pogba was a man for the big occasion and after four successful years at Juventus, he became, for a period, the most expensive footballer in history when Manchester United parted £89 million to acquire his signature.

He generally performed well for United under former boss Jose Mourinho, though their relationship eventually broke down and he has since been a revelation under caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. For France, Pogba has continued to impress was instrumental in Les Bleus’ journey to World Cup glory.

Age: 25

Club: Fiorentina

Senior apps: 0

Major honours: Ligue 2 (2012/13)


Lining up alongside Pogba and Kondogbia was Jordan Veretout, then of FC Nantes. A cultured playmaker with an eye for a pass, Veretout was very highly rated in his homeland and earned a move to then-Premier League club Aston Villa in 2015.

The decision to move to the Midlands in hindsight was a disastrous one, as Veretout was part of one of the worst teams ever to grace England’s top tier as Villa were relegated with only 17 points.

He’s since signed for Fiorentina and has performed well in Serie A, having currently made 60 appearances, scoring 13 goals across all competitions.

Age: 25

Club: Utrecht

Senior apps: 0

Major honours: Ligue 1 (2014/15), Coupe de la Ligue (2014/15), Coupe de France (2014-15)


A star at U20 level for France, Jean-Christophe Bahebeck is another uncapped player at senior level after failing to truly establish himself at PSG.

Bahebeck, who is also eligible to play for Cameroon, has spent time away from the Parc des Princes on loan at Troyes, Valenciennes, Saint-Etienne and now Utrecht, who he then joined permanently on the final day of the 2018/19 summer window.

Age: 26

Club: Marseille

Senior apps: 7

Major honours: Ligue 2 (2011/12), World Cup (2018)

FOOTBALL : France vs Turquie - Coupe du Monde U20 - Gaziantep - 02/07/2013

Tipped for big things as a youngster after bursting onto the scene at Bastia, Florian Thauvin’s career stalled following an expensive move to Newcastle in 2015.

The talented winger was loaned to Marseille for the season in the summer of 2016 and has since signed for them permanently, where he is fulfilling the potential he showed in 2013. He scored 26 goals across all competitions last season and played one minute of France’s 2018 World Cup-winning campaign, replacing the formidable Kylian Mbappe in the 89th minute of the 4-3 win against Argentina.

Age: 26

Club: Toulouse

Senior apps: 0

Major honours: FA Cup (2013/14)


It says it all that Yaya Sanogo has only scored nine club goals in competitive fixtures since the U20 World Cup three years ago – a tournament where he top-scored for France with four.

Soon after that competition, Sanogo earned a move to Arsenal but after failing to gain regular first-team football – and suffering from injuries – Sanogo has spent loan spells with Crystal Palace, Ajax and Charlton Athletic with mixed success and left Arsenal to join Toulouse in the summer of 2017.


Age: 25

Club: Barcelona

Senior apps: 27

Major honours: Coupe de France (2011/12), Copa del Rey (2016-17, 2017/18), Supercopa de Espana (2016), La Liga (2017/18), World Cup (2018)


Samuel Umtiti was suspended for the final after he was sent off in the semi-final against Ghana. Despite being only 19 at the time of the tournament, Umtiti had already amassed 50 appearances for Lyon in all competitions.

The ball-playing centre-back remained a key part of Les Gones’ backline up until June 2016 when he joined Barcelona in a £21m deal.

Umtiti was part of France’s Euro 2016 squad and made his debut in their 5-2 quarter-final win over Iceland, playing the full 90 minutes.

He is now a fully-fledged member of Didier Deschamps’ starting XI and scored the winning goal against Belgium in the semi-final of France’s World Cup triumph in 2018.

Age: 25

Club: Southampton

Senior apps: 11 for Gabon

Major honours: Serie A (2015/16, 2016/17), Coppa Italia (2015/16, 2016/17)


Mario Lemina was an unused substitute in the final but he has since gone on to become one of the most successful players in the squad, joining Juventus for £8m in 2015.

The midfielder decided to represent Gabon internationally and he has played 11 times for The Panthers, scoring three.

Lemina is now an important member of the Southampton team.

The rest of the squad: Pierre-Yves Polomat, Thibaut Vion, Axel Ngando, Alexy Bosetti, Maxime Dupe, Youssouf Sabaly, Christopher Jullien, Paul Charruau

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