Three players from this 2001 list of the world's 100 most promising young stars went on to play for Sheffield Wednesday

It’s not always easy picking the diamonds in the rough when it comes to young players. But when faced with fresh-faced starlets such as Arjen Robben, Kaka and Andres Iniesta, the task becomes a little simpler.

Monday, 4th November 2019, 4:50 pm
Updated Monday, 4th November 2019, 5:08 pm
Kaka, Zlatan Imbrahimovic, Arjen Robben and Andres Iniesta were among the players tipped for greatness by Four Four Two magazine back in 2001

When Four Four Two magazine set about ranking the 100 most promising youngsters in world football for a feature back in the summer of 2001, that famous trio were included alongside the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Dimitar Berbatov and, erm, Michael Chopra.

The list fails to name then-teenagers Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi, but littered among the names that went on to secure World Cup wins and Ballon D’or nominations are three players who would go on to turn out in the blue and white of Sheffield Wednesday.

99 – David Prutton

Sign up to our Sheffield Wednesday newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Blessed with a crunching tackle and an eye for a pass, David Prutton had already been around the Nottingham Forest first team for two seasons by the time the list came out when he was 19. Four Four Two placed him as the 99th most promising youngster in world football – just four places behind Kaka.

Operating either on the right or in the centre of midfield, the England under-21 star had reportedly attracted the interest of Manchester United, eventually making his Premier League move to Southampton in 2003.

His Wednesday move arrived in 2011 after injury-laden spells at Leeds, Colchester and Swindon. He retired after making 61 appearances for the Hillsborough club and now works as a Sky Sports pundit.

69 – Bojan Djordjic

Bojan Djordjic (left, in Manchester United colours), Chris Kirkland (centre) and David Prutton (right) all went on to play for Sheffield Wednesday

A Manchester United academy prospect, Sweden youth international Djordjic won the coveted Jimmy Murphy award for the club’s best youth performer in 2000 and seemingly had the world at his feet.

It was quite a coup, then, for second-tier Sheffield Wednesday to sign him on loan. The left winger struggled with injuries and made only five appearances for the struggling Owls, however, and he was sent back to Old Trafford after a 5-0 defeat to Norwich at the turn of the year.

A nomadic career followed and Djordjic hit the headlines after the PFA stepped into a contract dispute with Blackpool in 2011 that saw the Tangerines, recently relegated from the Premier League, reportedly paying him just £90 per week.

He also stepped out for Plymouth, AIK Stockholm and Indian outfit Chennaiyin before he retired in 2015. He now works for MUTV and in recent years has featured in a number of Manchester United ‘legends’ matches.

38 – Chris Kirkland

Signed by Liverpool as a deputy to Jerzy Dudek in the summer of 2001, goalkeeper Kirkland had already played 24 times for Coventry City and several times for England youth sides. It would have come as little surprise that he was ranked as the world’s most promising young goalkeeper.

Seen as a future England number one, Kirkland soon took Dudek’s place between the Anfield sticks before injury struck him down, a theme that would plague him throughout his career. He signed for Wigan Athletic in 2006 and played over 150 times before signing for Wednesday in 2012.

A solid stopper and imposing figure, Kirkland played 85 times for the Owls across three years, suffering well-documented mental health problems while at the club. He left Wednesday in 2015 and retired soon afterwards, after short spells with Preston and Bury. He’s now a passionate and well-respected advocate for mental health.

The full list, including a certain Djibril Cisse at number one, can be found below..

100. Alexander Hleb (AM, Stuttgart)

99. David Prutton (D/MF, Nottingham Forest)

98. Erdal Kilicaslan (CFWD, Bayern Munich)

97. Daniyel Cimen (LB/CB, Eintracht Frankfurt)

96. Benjamin Auer (CFWD, Borussia M'Gladbach)

95. Kaka (AM, Sao Paulo)

94. Azar Karadas (CFWD/CB, Brann Bergen)

93. Shaun Maloney (STR, Celtic)

92. Leonardo Santiago (L/WNG, Feyenoord)

91. Kieran Richardson (L/WNG, Manchester United)

90. Aldo Jara (FWD, Cerro Portano)

89. Keith Kelly (CM, PSG)

88. Christoph Preuss (RWB, Eintract Frankfurt)

87. Ramon Calliste (STR, Manchester United)

86. Mika Vayrynen (AM, FC Jokerit)

85. Michael Zepek (CM, Bayer Leverkusen)

84. Labinot Harbuzi (AM, Malmo FF)

83. Thijs Houwing (CFWD, Twente)

82. Dimitar Berbatov (STR, Bayer Leverkusen)

81. Tuomas Aho (CB, My-Pa)

80. Candido Costa (AM, Porto)

79. Andres Oliveira (STR/FWD, Perth Glory)

78. Michael Essien (D/MF, Bastia)

77. Fernando Macedo Nano (L/WNG, Barcelona)

76. Dulee Johnson (STR, BK Hacken)

75. Mauro Rosales (R/WNG, Newell's Old Boys)

74. Derek Boateng (AM, Panathinaikos)

73. Theo Janssen (LM, Vitesse)

72. Hassan Ahamada (LWNG/STR, Nantes)

71. Cherno Samba (CFWD, Millwall)

70. Matteo Brighi (CM, Juventus)

69. Bojan Djordjic (L/WNG, Manchester United)

68. Andreas Hinkel (RB/RWB, Stuttgart)

67. Santino Quaranta (STR, DC United)

66. Jhon van Beukering (STR, Vitesse)

65. Eddie Johnson (STR, Dallas Burn)

64. Michael Chopra (STR, Newcastle)

63. Rubinho (GK, Corinthians)

62. Mark Fotheringham (C/MF, Celtic)

61. Johnnier Montano (AM/FWD, Parma -- on loan to Verona)

60. Serhat Akin (STR, Fenerbahce)

59. Carlos Martins (CM, Sporting Lisbon)

58. Filip Trojan (L/WNG, Schalke 04)

57. Ricardo Costa (CB, FC Porto)

56. Landon Donovan (STR, San Jose Earthquakes)

55. Alexander Ludwig (L/WNG, Werder Bremen)

54. Lourenco Da Silva (FWD/LWNG, Sporting Lisbon)

53. Francesco Tarantino (LB/CB, Athletic Bilbao)

52. Jeremie Aliadiere (STR, Arsenal)

51. Gatti Ribeiro (RWB, Blooming)

50. Massimo Donati (DM, AC Milan)

49. Francesco Lodi (AM, Empoli/Parma)

48. Gael Givet (CB/LB, Monaco)

47. Ewerthon (STR/FWD, Borussia Dortmund)

46. Christian Petereit (RB/CB, Schalke 04)

45. Niko Kranjcar (AM/CFWD, Dinamo Zagreb)

44. Jay Lucas (CFWD, Southampton)

43. Diego Ribas (AM, Santos)

42. Joaquin Sanchez (L/WNG, Real Betis)

41. Ahmed 'Mido' Hossam (STR/LWNG, Ajax)

40. Helder Postiga (STR, Porto)

39. Emiliano S. Dudar (CB, Velez Sarsfield)

38. Chris Kirkland (GK, Liverpool)

37. Ednilson (AM, Benfica Lisbon)

36. Dean Ashton (CFWD, Crewe Alexandra)

35. Zlatan Ibrahimovic (CFWD, Ajax)

34. Leandro Romagnoli (AM, San Lorenzo)

33. Hassan Yebda (DM, Auxerre)

32. Marat Izmailov (AM/FWD, Lokomotiv Moscow)

31. Gareth Barry (LB, Aston Villa)

30. Jermain Defoe (STR, West Ham United)

29. Gregory Vignal (LB, Liverpool)

28. Julio Colombo (CB, Montpellier)

27. Arjen Robben (L/WNG, Groningen/PSV Eindhoven)

26. Hugo Viana (CM, Sporting Lisbon)

25. Maicon (RWB, Cruzeiro)

24. Ricardo Bernardo Quaresma (L/WNG, Sporting Lisbon)

23. Fabricio Coloccini (CB, Milan/on loan to Alaves)

22. Marius Niculae (STR, Sporting Lisbon)

21. Milan Baros (STR, Liverpool)

20. Andres Iniesta (AM, Barcelona)

19. Baldo Di Gregorio (CB, Eintracht Frankfurt)

18. Juan Andreu Melli (CM, Real Betis)

17. Johnny Heitinga (CB, Ajax)

16. Philippe Mexes (CB, Auxerre)

15. Kim Kallstrom (CM, BK Hacken)

14. John Welsh (C/DM, Liverpool)

13. Darren Fletcher (C/MF, Manchester United)

12. David Odonkor (FWD, Borussia Dortmund)

11. Pedro Mantorras (STR, Benfica Lisbon)

10. Mourad Meghni (AM, Bologna)

9. Anthony Le Tallec (AM/CFWD, Le Havre/Liverpool)

8. Piotr Trochowski (AM, FC Bayern Munich)

7. Florent Sinama-Pongolle (STR, Le Havre/Liverpool)

6. Rafael van der Vaart (C/MF, Ajax)

5. Jermaine Pennant (R/WNG, Arsenal)

4. Fernando Torres (STR, Atletico Madrid)

3. Leandro Bonfim (AM, Vitoria/PSV Eindhoven)

2. Andres D'Alessandro (AM, River Plate)

1. Djibril Cisse (STR, Auxerre)