Wednesday 05 April 2017, 14:17

Contenders announced for Blue Stars/FIFA Youth Cup 2017

The ten-team line-up for the 79th edition of the Blue Stars/FIFA Youth Cup has been announced, with reigning holders Grasshopper Club in line to defend their title in Zurich.

Taking place across 24-25 May, the tournament will see FC Blue Stars, FC Zurich, West Ham United, Anderlecht and Benfica also return from last year’s tournament, being joined by Independiente Santa Fe, Mainz 05, Olympique Lyon and FC St. Gallen.

With seven nationalities being represented across the participants, the English and Belgian contingents of West Ham United and Anderlecht will be intent on bettering their podium finishes from a year ago.

Attracting sides from across the globe during since its birth in 1939, the competition has hosted some of the biggest names in club football. Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona, Argentinian counterparts River Plate and Boca Juniors, more European heavyweights such as Juventus and Bayern Munich, and Guangzhou Evergrande of China have all featured.

Manchester United stand as the all-time leading winners of the trophy, having lifted the title on 18 occasions at the invitational tournament. Just four sides have triumphed from outside of Europe in its history, with Brazil’s Sao Paulo the first to do so in 1999. They retained the title a year later, while Boca Juniors also have two wins to their name, with Brazilian duo Gremio Porto Alegre and Atletico Paranaense triumphing once apiece.

Some huge stars of the game have graced the competition during its storied history. Retired icons such as David Beckham, Pep Guardiola and Markus Babbel have taken to the field, while current stars Nani, Kaka, Stephan Liechtsteiner and Admir Mehmedi all took their first steps there.

No doubt the aspiring starlets among the ten youth teams will be hoping their names can one day feature with its most celebrated alumni.