About the Golden Boy award

The Golden Boy award is basically a Ballon d'Or given to best football player under the age of 21 during a calendar year. In its early years there was not much prestige in this award but for every year that goes by it is growing in popularity and importance in the football world.

The history of the Golden Boy award

The initiator of this award is the Italian newspaper Tuttosport and they first handed out the award in 2003. The very first player to become the "Golden Boy" was the Dutch midfielder Rafael van der Vaart, playing for Ajax at the time.

Even though it is technically possible to win the award more than one time it has still not happened. Closest to win it twice are Wayne Rooney and Lionel Messi who won the award ones and been runner-up two times.

Who decides who wins the Golden Boy award?

From the beginning Tuttosport decided the winner by themselves but nowadays it is decided by votes from 11 different European newspapers. These are the 11 newspapers that have a saying in who will win the award:

How is the Golden Boy award decided?

Every newspaper listed above gets to nominate 5 players under 21 years old that they think have outperformed during the last year. Then, out of all nominees, each newspaper gives the five players points according to this scale:

And naturally, the player who receives the most points in total will be the winner of the Golden Boy award.

Related awards

The Golden Boy award is not the only award that is/has been handed out to the best performing young players.

Bravo Award

The Bravo Award was an award handed out between the years 1997 and 2015. It was also created in Italy, this one by the magazine Guerin Sportivo. The (slight) difference between this award and the Golden Boy award is that this one was based on the stretch of a season and not calendar year.

The first player to win the Bravo Award was Liverpool's Jimmy Case in 1997 and the last one was won by Italian Domenico Berardi, playing for Sassuolo at that time. The full list of winners can be found here.

Kopa Trophy

This fairly new award (started in 2018) is organized by the French weekly magazine France Football, who are also part of the jury for the Golden Boy award. The name of the trophy comes from the French footballer Raymond Kopa.

The selection of the winner of this trophy comes from votes from previous Ballon d'Or winners and all the winners so far (between 2018 and 2022) have been the exact same ones as the winners of the Golden Boy award.