Souleymane Coulibaly is only 16 years old, but his performance for the Ivory Coast in the FIFA Under 17 World Cup, finishing on top of the scoring list with 9 goals, averaging a goal every 40 minutes. Already touted as the “Next Didier Drogba”, Coulibaly was very quickly snatched from Siena, where has only played for the U-19 side so far, by Tottenham. He has already scored a goal for the club in a friendly match vs Brighton.
Despite the incredible potential and promise, starring in the U-17 tournament rarely leads to stardom in the years to come. Looking at the list of players who won the Golden Ball (tournament MVP) and the Golden Shoe (top scorer), only Cesc Fabregas jumps into mind as an actual star born out of this tournament. Like Coulibaly, he couldn’t lead his team to trophy, as Spain lost to Brazil in the final.
And Coulibaly isn’t the first African player to star in the tournament – Mousa Traore (Ivorian as well) was the top scorer in the 1985 tournament, but no one really remembers him. Nii Lamptey and Daniel Addo, both from Ghana, won the Golden ball, but never really rose to anything besides nice contracts in England and Germany. Nigerians Sani Emmanuel (Lazio) and Macauley Christanus are still waiting for that big break. Emmanuel is 18 and Christanus is 20, but the general feeling is in Germany that Christanus won’t be a big star.
Reviewing the names, Manchester United’s Anderson and Landon Donovan seem to be the only other players who really made an impression on the football world after the tournament. Is it a fate of stardom, moderate success or a quick descent into anonymity in the cards for Coulibaly?
To be truthful, the most exciting young talent in Europe right now is Anderlecht’s Romelu Lukaku, who seems to be on the verge of making that Chelsea move every other day. At 18, he has already scored 31 goals for the club and has been capped 9 times for Belgium. Coulibaly’s eruption into the spotlight due to a Premier League move and a fantastic summer in Mexico stole the spotlight a tad from Antwerp born striker.
So again, is this the next Didier Drogba or something else? Drogba was never a prodigy. He grew up in France but never really stood out until that only season with Marseille, scoring 32 goals, setting up his Chelsea move. He was 26 when he made the switch from France to London. Coulibaly has potential, tons of it, but he also has plenty of time. I’m not so sure too much media attention is going to help.