Youth providing Euro star turns
By Patrick Goss
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
With 'Rooneymania' sweeping not just England but much of Europe judging by the papers, it is easy to think that the 18-year-old superstar is the only superstarlet that has inspired this European Championship.
But, with only the most superficial look around, it is not hard to see that youth is not only the path of the future, but also very much the present.
Take Switzerland for instance, when Rooney picked up the record as the youngest scorer in the history of the European Championship he must have expected it to at least last four years.
Yet when Johann Vonlanthen grabbed an unexpected equaliser against France, tucking the ball home past Fabien Barthez with aplomb, he undercut Rooney's accomplishment just four days after he had lowered the bar.
Vonlanthen is by no means the only youngster stirring up interest at this tournament - with almost every country finding their potential stars impressing.
Spain's early exit at the hands of Portugal may not have been the ideal game to showcase stars, and yet Fernando Torres has done little to refute suggestions that he will be his nation's next superstar.
In the same game Cristiano Ronaldo, a name familiar to English audiences, once more shone in front of increasingly adoring fans.
It was always going to be hard for the winger to come in during a transitional period for Manchester United, and yet by winning over both Red Devils fans and the Portuguese public he has illustrated just how good a player he is shaping up to become.
Germany have been similarly buoyed by the instant impact of Bastian Schweinsteiger - a midfielder who has only emerged in the latter half of the season and was a late call-up for the squad.
Future Chelsea man Arjen Robben has been scintillating for the Dutch - and his substitution was a major factor in allowing Czech Republic back into a game they had been losing 2-1 before the winger was removed.
Robben's commanding performance against Germany belies his age - with the winger only turning 20 at the beginning of this year.
For Italy, Francesco Totti's suspension may hand a chance to their own young superstar Antonio Cassano. A player that has already taken Serie A by storm for Roma.
Alan Hansen famously once stated 'you can't win anything with kids,' but after Manchester United's golden generation proved him wrong the football world is increasingly turning to youth.
Although England have players that have seen, and coped, with the high profile games that come about in major tournaments - it is already clear that their chances of winning the event could rest on the broad shoulders of an 18-year-old.
But in a tournament that has showcased a wealth of young stars - we can cheer on a player whose potential has not only won him the admiration of his nature, but also revealed the future of English football to the whole of the world.
Aside from Rooney, who do you feel has emerged as a future superstar at Euro 2004?