UEFA.com marks the imminent start of the UEFA European Under-17 Championship by rewinding to 2004, when France lifted the trophy on home soil. It was a portent of things to come for a team which included one player who is now among the leading European scorers of all time and another who has been a Premier League champion twice in the last three years.
1. Karim Benzema
Benzema was on the field for just 21 minutes of France's triumphant U17 campaign as hosts, coming off the bench only in their first two group games. He scored in the first of those but was nonetheless largely overlooked by coach Philippe Bergeroo. Though he made his Olympique Lyonnais debut the following season, he was not a regular until 2006/07, subsequently registering 37 Ligue 1 goals in the next two campaigns.
With four Ligue 1 titles to his name, and still only 21, the forward made a €35m move to Real Madrid CF in summer 2009. He has since claimed one Liga title as well as the 2013/14 UEFA Champions League, racking up well over a century of goals. One more strike will take him into the top ten European Cup scorers ever.
2. Hatem Ben Arfa
On target three times in the U17 final tournament 11 years ago, Ben Arfa preceded Benzema into Lyon's senior side. He struggled to cement a consistent starting berth until 2007/08, however, joining Olympique de Marseille at the end of that campaign. Two years of impressive displays heralded a switch to Newcastle United FC, where his vibrant performances – not to mention spectacular goals – made him a fans' favourite.
He eventually fell out of favour, though, and was loaned down the east coast to Hull City AFC, but is now without a club following an aborted transfer to OGC Nice.
3. Ahmed Yahiaoui
Ever-present aside from 22 minutes on the bench in 2004 finals, Yahiaoui has struggled at senior level. A handful of substitute outings for Marseille notwithstanding, he has had a nomadic career that has taken in fleeting stints with the likes of FC Istres, AS Cannes and, latterly, MC Oran in Algeria. Yahiaoui now plies his trade at FC Martigues of the French fourth tier.
4. Samir Nasri
Another of Bergeroo's triumphant squad to have gone on to illustrious things. He missed just two minutes of the 2004 tournament and also struck twice at the U19 finals 12 months later. At club level, he was soon a regular for Marseille, where he stayed until Arsenal FC came calling in 2008. Though he failed to lift silverware with the Gunners, he blossomed under the tutelage of fellow countryman Arsène Wenger and was lured to ambitious Manchester City FC after three seasons in north London. He has since landed two English titles but been unable to help City beyond the UEFA Champions League last 16.
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