No, 1996 in football was not only the year of a heartbreaking penalty shootout at Wembley.
Here’s a starting eleven of the best players born in 1996!
11. GK: Simone Scuffet (Italy, Udinese Calcio)
Birthday: May 31, 1996
Considered one of the best young players in the world by La Gazzetta Dello Sport in 2014, Simone Scuffet was often compared to Gianluigi Buffon when he started his professional career.
Still playing with Udinese, the 20-year-old has been out of the first team fold this season, being benched for the benefit of the greek keeper Orestis Karnezis.
The Gianluigi Donnarumma of three years ago.
Also born in 1996: André Onana (Ajax Amsterdam), Augusto Batalla (River Plate)
10. CB: Jonathan Tah (Germany, Bayer Leverkusen)
Birthday: February 11, 1996
The massive centre-back of Bayer Leverkusen (1.94m, 95kg) is considered one of the world’s future best defenders, notably winning the Fritz-Walter-Medaille in 2015.
After a great 15-16 season that almost got him a spot in Bundesliga’s team of the season, Tah confirms this season and even got himself a selection to the German national team.
Also born in 1996: Davidson Sánchez (Ajax Amsterdam)
9. CB: Lucas Hernández (France, Atlético Madrid)
Birthday: February 14, 1996
Despite the fact that he fights with his girlfriend (which is pretty paradoxical for someone who’s born on Valentine’s Day), Lucas Hernández is a pretty decent football player.
The polyvalent defender, who can play both centre-back and left-back, is one of Atlético’s and France’s biggest prospects.
Also born in 1996: Nico Elved (Borussia Mönchengladbach)
8. CB: Andreas Christensen (Denmark, Borussia Mönchengladbach)
Birthday: April 10, 1996
Chelsea buys an absolute ridiculous amount of young players and mostly end up loaning them, doing nothing of them and sometimes destroying their career. But this policy has a goal: increasing their chance of getting “the one” great player out of a hundred.
And although the only player that we can think of with whom it actually worked is Thibaut Courtois, they could well get something out of Andreas Christensen too. The Danish centre-back is having his second season on loan with Mönchengladbach and he’s one of this season’s revelations in Bundesliga.
Maybe Chelsea won’t need to spend silly amounts of money to give their defence a bit of new blood.
Also born in 1996: Jairo Riedewald (Ajax Amsterdam), Emanuel Mammana (Olympique Lyonnais)
7. CM: Mahmoud Dahoud (Germany, Borussia Mönchengladbach)
Birthday: January 1, 1996
The heartwarming story of a boy whose family escaped from Syria in 1996 to escape Assad’s regime and who ends up being an awesome football player.
Now 21, the midfielder has been spotted as one of Bundesliga’s best prospects since at least three years now, getting introduced to professional football by Lucien Favre in 2014. He really broke through last season after Favre’s sacking as he became a key player to André Schubert, then Dieter Hecking’s team.
The gemstone of Mönchengladbach’s young generation is however joining Borussia Dortmund ahead of next season.
Also born in 1996: Alexis Blin (Toulouse FC)
6. CM: Riechedly Bazoer (Netherlands, VfL Wolfsburg)
Birthday: October 12, 1996
The latest gifted child of the Ajax Amsterdam academy, Riechedly Bazoer is as good as his name is hard to pronounce (for your information, its: rish-ed-lee ba-zoo-r).
The central midfielder got transferred in January to VfL Wolfsburg, but has only played a couple of incomplete games since then. But no doubt he’ll be a great addition to Die Wölfe‘s young and talented midfield.
Also born in 1996: Dani Ceballos (Real Betis), Franck Kessié (Atalanta BC)
5. AMR: Leroy Sané (Germany, Manchester City)
Birthday: January 11, 1996
Another German/Bundesliga talent in this team!
Since he signed for Manchester City for a record fee last summer, Leroy Sané is confirming he’s one of the best young talents int he world, potentially forming the most exciting attacking trio of the next ten years alongside Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus.
Also born in 1996: Alex Iwobi (Arsenal), Gonçalo Guedes (Paris Saint-Germain)
4. CAM: Dele Alli (England, Tottenham)
Birthday: April 11, 1996
2015-2016 PFA Young Player of the Year awardee perpetuates the tradition of young and exciting English midfielders in the Premier League. His breakthrough is one of the reasons Tottenham have been so good over the last couple of years.
The sky is the limit for Dele.
Also born in 1996: Giovani Lo Celso (Paris Saint-Germain), Bartosz Kapustka (Leicester), Marco Asensio (Real Madrid), Alen Halilović (UD Las Palmas)
3. AML: Kingsley Coman (France, Bayern Munich)
Birthday: June 13, 1996
Although his gametime suffers from Arjen Robben and Franck Ribéry being back at their top level this season, Kingsley Coman remains one of the most valued young players in the world.
The French winger, who’s currently on loan to Bayern from Juventus, has shown some great things last season and he probably has the most impressive trophy room among under-21 players: 2x Ligue 1 champion and League Cup champion with PSG; Serie A winner, Coppa d’Italia winner and Champions League runner-up with Juventus; Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal winner with Bayern; Euro 2016 runner-up with France.
All of this in only three seasons. He’s set to earn more silverware in the coming weeks.
Also born in 1996: Maxwel Cornet (Olympique Lyonnais), Demarai Gray (Leicester), Julian Brandt (Bayer Leverkusen)
2. ST: Gabriel Barbosa (Brasil, Inter Milan)
Birthday: August 30, 1996
The last time Inter tried their luck with a Brazilian striker, they ended up having Ronaldo, so…
2016 Olympic gold-medalist Gabriel ‘Gabigol’ Barbosa is surely Brazil and Inter’s next big thing. Can’t wait for him and Gabriel Jesus to remember everyone what Brazilian football used to look like on the international level.
Also born in 1996: Timo Werner (RB Leipzig), Antonio Sanabria (Real Betis)
1. ST: Kelechi Iheanacho (Nigeria, Manchester City)
Birthday: October 3, 1996
Symbol of Nigerian football amazing new generation, Manchester City’s academy player Kelechi Iheanacho is yet to take over the Premier League with the Sky Blues.
His pace and finishing made him a great supersub for Guardiola’s side, scoring regularly when he plays, though appearances of late have been limited.
Also born in 1996: Donis Avdijaj (Schalke 04)