England football team coach Sven Goran Eriksson has raised quite a few eyebrows with his squad selection for the upcoming World Cup in Germany. What has surprised many is the inclusion of 16-year-old Theo Walcott, who is yet to even make a team appearance for his club, Arsenal.
But Eriksson has history on his side. The annals of sports are strewn with examples of gambling on youth paying off handsomely.
Here is a quick look at six sporting legends who burst onto the scene as prodigies, fulfilled the potential they had shown as youngsters, and became larger than life, role models for their country and people.
This list -- as any such list is wont to be -- is by no means complete, and we have decided on it only because of the criteria mentioned above. But if you think we have sinned by omitting someone, do let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org
Photographs: AFP/Getty Images
Text: Sumit Bhattacharya