The Brazilian Wonder Kids

Some belters from the Brazilian and international media here, with almost any glimpse of talent meaning this label is often slapped on a youngster. In many cases they've been right, but in some they were wide of the mark.

1982 Walter Casagrande

Striker who first came to prominence as an 18 year old back in 1982. A phenomenal year for Corinthians ended with 28 goals in the Campeonato Paulista. Played 3 times for Brazil in the 1986 World Cup before his first transfer abroad, to Porto. Didn't particularly shine in Europe and returned to Brazil in 1993.

1983 Bebeto

The baby-faced striker started out with local club Esporte Clube Vitoria but within a matter of months he'd been snapped up by Rio giants Flamengo. His goal-scoring feats soon had the Brazilian football media raving, and he made his national team debut just a year later. However, despite great scoring records with Flamengo, and later Rio rivals Vasco da Gama, it wasn't until a move to Spanish club Deportivo La Coruna, and then the 1994 World Cup, that the rest of the World real stood up and noticed him.

1984 Muller

It might have been the eye-catching name that attracted all the early attention, but Muller certainly didn't live up to all the hype. His final national team record of 20 goals in 56 games certainly looks impressive for a left-sided attacker but he always seemed to fall short when faced with real top quality opposition. First started grabbing the media's eye as an 18 year old at Sao Paulo and gained his first Brazilian Cap aged in 1986.

1985 Romario

First touted as a potential superstar back in 195 whilst playing for Vasco da Gama, Romario was one of the first wave of young Brazilians that top European side decided to take a gamble. Top Dutch scout Piet de Visser was instrumental in persuading PSV Eindhoven to take him on, and the rest is history. An incredible 98 goals in just over 100 games for PSV sealed a switch to Barcelona, where he achieved another near goal-per-game ratio. He also helped Brazil to the 1994 World Cup.

1988 Viola

His highpoint (and possibly the tournaments) was an impressive cameo appearance in the 1994 World Cup final against Italy, when, with just 10 minutes of extra-time to go, he came on showed us more skill than we'd witnessed in the previously dreadful 110 minutes. It wasn't a surprise to the watching Brazilians... they'd known about his fantastic ability since he'd started out with Corinthians, but problems on and off the pitch had stagnated his career. The hope was that after picking up a World Cup winners medal he'd go on to fulfil his great promise. They were wrong. A move to Spain didn't work out and he returned to yet more problems in Brazil - having to be taken away by 3 riot police as he chased a referee and then delaying a match for 25 minutes after he punched a touchline radio reporter in mid-game! The talent was still there though - he finished as top scorer in the 1998 Brazilian Championship whilst at Santos.

1989 Tulio

Hit the Brazilian headlines back in 1989 when he finished as Brazilian Championship top scorer with home club Goias. Rather than biding his time for a move to Europe he went almost immediately, choosing Swiss club Sion rather than waiting for the big boys to make a move. He was back in Brazil though within a couple of years and re-discovered his form, finishing top scorer in the Brazilian champs again in 1994 and 1995 with Botafogo. Known for his creativity as much as his goal-scoring, he notched an impressive 13 goals in just 15 games for the national team, and was still playing in the lower reaches of the Brazilian league as he approached 40.

1992 Ronaldo

A 'wonder-kid' from an early age starring with local Rio side Sao Cristovao, Ronaldo was snapped up by Cruzeiro as soon as he could sign professionally. From then on his career path followed that of Romario - moves to PSV and Barca with goals galore on the way. Further transfers, yet more goals, World Cup medals and illnesses, have all followed.

1996 Denilson

Opinion remains divided on whether Denilson made a decent success of his career given his talent, but although you cant really argue with a World Cup winners medal, you always feel like this outrageously gifted left winger could have achieved even more. He first came to the fore as a teenager with Sao Paulo, then as a 20 year old he produced a head-turning performance at the 1997 Copa America. The sight of his famous step-over (mostly done on the spot, rather than when running) baffled many a defender and was enough to persuade Real Betis to break the world record and hand over just short of £22m for him. He seemed to struggle with the burden and expectation for a long time, although his best form came around 2002, his 2nd half substitute appearances in the World Cup a real treat all but the right-backs.

1997 Ronaldinho

Word of Ronaldinho's talent soon spread through supporters of Brazilian side Gremio after his dazzling performances for the club's youth team. Some eye-catching performances at the 1997 U17 World Championships had the Gremio fans shouting for a full-team debut. By 2001, aged only 21, it was obvious that the club could no longer hold on to him, but everyone was surprised when he ignored the advances of Europe's largest clubs to sign for PSG. A couple of seasons there and one World Cup winners medal later and he was heading down a road that had proven so popular with other great Brazilians - the road to Barca.

2000 Kaka

Kaka was well known in the Brazilian football community for his dynamic displays with Sao Paulo's youth team before a fractured spine looked to have ended his career before it had even started. However, he was thrust into the limelight when he made an extraordinary recovery and came back better than ever, breaking into the full team and scoring almost a goal every other game as an attacking midfielder. In 2003, Milan paid just short of £4.5m for him, which after success in Serie A and Europe now looks a bargain.

2001 Diego

Grew up in the Santos youth team with Robinho and made his full-team debut aged only 16. Linked heavily with a move to Spurs in 2003 but ended up taking the more traditional transfer for a young Brazilian to a Portuguese side, Porto. A disastrous spell looked like it would result in him heading back to Brazil, but an inspired transfer from Werder Bremen has got the little playmaker back on track again.

2002 Robinho

Pedala, lollipops, stepovers. Call them what you like, but since the age of about 3 we bet Robinho's been doing them. One of those kids who would score about 20 goals a game for the local team, he was labelled a wonder kid from the moment he was snapped up by Santos. Has shown glimpses of his undoubted quality since his move to Real Madrid in 2005 but needs to do it more consistently.

2005 Kerlon

You can keep you lollipops and stepovers, Kerlon beats them all with 'the seal dribble' (flicking the ball up then running through heading it!). Named player of the tournament at the 2005 South American U17 Champs, he has constantly been linked with big money moves to Europe. However, his success at youth-level has not yet translated to the full Cruzeiro team, and he has struggled to find the net regularly.

2006 Alexandre Pato

Nicknamed 'the Duck', he's also been tagged both the 'new Ronaldo' and the 'new Ronaldinho'. He grabbed the headlines in December 2006 as a 17 year old for Internacional, scoring in the FIFA Club World Cup semi final and then playing in the final victory against Barcelona. After helping Brazil win the 2007 S.American U20 Champs all the usual suspects from Europe were clambering for his signature and in summer 2007 he signed for Milan.