At the 2002 FIFA World Cup™ in Japan/Korea, Luiz Felipe Scolari sent on a relatively unknown 20-year-old in place of Rivaldo with Brazil 5-2 up against Costa Rica in Suwon.
That 20-year-old was Kaka, who would go on to play in a further two World Cups, play for AC Milan and Real Madrid and win both Serie A and La Liga in the process.
Now 12 years older from his exploits in 2002, the Orlando City-bound star is enjoying watching the likes of Memphis Depay and Paul Pogba emerge at Brazil 2014 and believes that the Hyundai Young Player Award acts as important motivation.
“It’s fantastic to see the young stars growing up at a World Cup,” he told FIFA. “Personally, I was truly lucky when I was young, because I’ve always had the opportunity to play with great and experienced players.
“I learned a lot from them, the sense of responsibility, and their professionalism. In this sense, Hyundai’s Young Player Award is vital for young players to have the correct motivation.
“In football, it is important to recognise the value of young talent. I believe it’s important to invest and nurture young talents, as they represent the future. I’ve always loved the blend between experience and young talents, it’s the best thing that a team can do.”
A total of 36 players who were born after 1 January 1993 were eligible for the award, including France’s Raphael Varane, Belgium’s Romelu Lukaku and England’s Ross Barkley.
Most gained invaluable playing time at a World Cup and Kaka was also quick to offer important advice to those hoping to follow in his footsteps.
“My suggestion to young players who want to achieve high results is to set specific objectives – which in other words represent one’s dreams – and fight for them,” he continued.
“They should avoid dreaming of targets which are too difficult to reach and set objectives and targets which really can be achieved.
“And then, they should always do their best, with determination, faith, hope, perseveration and patience. All these factors are key to reach their final objectives.”