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Famous Players to win a Gold Medal at the Olympics

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Spain’s Midfield Duo Star at Home Olympics

In 1992 Spain were the host nation of the Olympic Games which took place in Barcelona. Notably, their football team involved a notable midfield duo of 21-year-old Pep Guardiola and 22-year-old Luis Enrique of Barcelona and Real Madrid.

The duo both scored in Spain’s comfortable 4-0 victory over Colombia on matchday one in Group B, before taking part 2-0 victories against Egypt and Qatar. The Spaniards who were managed by former Real defender Vicente Miera would then go on to beat Italy 1-0 in the quarter-finals, Ghana 2-0, before sealing a dramatic 3-2 victory over Poland in the final to win the Gold Medal via a stoppage-time goal from former Atletico Madrid striker Kiko.

Nwankwo Kanu Inspires the Super Eagles

In 1996 the Olympic Games were held in Atlanta, America and were opened by President Bill Clinton, whilst Muhammad Ali was the Cauldron.

The football at the 1996 Olympic Games were as memorable as any event at those Olympics, as Nigeria came in with an impressive young side that featured the likes of 19-year-old Nwankwo Kanu leading the line, alongside other notable names such as Jay-Jay Okocha and Celestine Babayaro.

Ajax striker Kanu was up there as the star of the tournament and scored Nigeria’s winner in a 1-0 victory over Hungary on matchday one in Group D, as well as playing in their 2-0 victory against Japan. The 19-year-old was unable to help the Super Eagles in a 1-0 loss to Brazil on matchday three as Ronaldo scored the only goal of a game for a side that featured stars such as Juninho and Bebeto.

Nigeria beat Mexico 2-0 in the quarter-finals thanks to strikes from Okocha and Babayaro before Kanu was to have his moment of crowning glory in a 4-3 victory against Brazil in the semi-finals, as he scored a 90th-minute equaliser before netting a Golden Goal winner in the 94th minute to knock the favourites out of the competition. Kanu’s side would then go on to snatch a 3-2 win in the final against Argentina via another Babayaro strike, as well as goals from Daniel Amokachi and a stoppage-time from Emmanuel Amunike, cancelling out strikes from Claudio Lopez and Hernan Crespo earlier on in the game.

The Indomitable Lions Stun Sydney Olympic Games

Next up is the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia where Cameroon shocked the footballing world by winning the Gold Medal. Their squad had promising talents such as Geremi of Real Madrid, Lauren who is well known for his time at Arsenal and a fierce strike pairing of 29-year-old Patrick M’Boma of Parma and a 19-year-old Samuel Eto’o of Mallorca in La Liga.

Cameroon advanced from Group C consisting of the United States, Kuwait and the Czech Republic with five points, with their only win coming in a 3-2 win against Kuwait thanks to goals from Nicolas Alnoudji, M’Boma and Lauren. They also earned two 1-1 draws against the USA and the Czech Republic, with M’Boma and Lauren scoring once again.

The Indomitable Lions managed a shock 2-1 victory against Brazil in the quarter-finals via a Golden Goal winner by former Marseille and PSG midfielder Modeste M'bami, recovering from the heartache of conceding a 94th-minute equaliser by Ronaldinho.

They would then go on to beat Chile 2-1 in the semi-finals via two goals in the last seven minutes from M’Boma and Lauren, before beating Spain on penalties in the final after a 2-2 draw thanks to an own goal from Ivan Amaya and an Eto’o strike, which cancelled out first-half goals from Xavi and Gabri. This goal by Eto’o in the final was the only one he scored in the tournament in Sydney.

Bielsa Ball Earns Argentina Olympic Gold in Athens

Argentina’s 2004 Olympic Squad was one filled with two young prodigies who would go on to be stars of the future game, as well as having some other notable names in there to help them out. Marcelo Bielsa’s side had three over-aged players in Roberto Ayala, Gabriel Heinze and Kily Gonzalez of Valencia, Manchester United and Inter Milan, but two players we are focussing on here are Javier Mascherano and Carlos Tevez who were two 20-year-old prodigies playing for River Plate and Boca Juniors at the time.

Tevez scored three goals in Argentina’s three group stage wins, managing a brace as they thrashed Serbia and Montenegro 6-0, before netting in a 2-0 victory over Tunisia. Bielsa’s side also beat Australia 1-0 on matchday three of Group C via a strike from former Portsmouth midfielder Andrés D'Alessandro.

Former United and Juventus striker Tevez would go on to be the star of the tournament, whilst his teammate Mascherano provided them with extra defensive protection in the midfield. Tevez would go on to score a hattrick in a 4-0 thumping of Costa Rica in the quarter-finals, before scoring the opener in a resounding 3-0 victory in the semi-finals against Italy and even scored the only goal of the game in the final as they edged out Paraguay. The 20-year-old finished the competition as the top scorer with eight goals.

Lionel Messi and co. – 2008

Argentina’s team at the 2008 Olympics is arguably up there as one of the best seen in the history of the games in terms of quality. They were managed by Sergio Batista this time and two of their over-aged players selected was Mascherano at 24-years-old who had since moved to Liverpool and 30-year-old Juan Roman Riquelme who had recently joined Boca Juniors.

Alongside Mascherano and Riquelme, they also named 23-year-old Espanyol full-back Pablo Zabaleta, 20-year-old Benfica winger Angel Di Maria, 21-year-old Barcelona forward Lionel Messi and 20-year-old Sergio Aguero of Atletico Madrid.

Unsurprisingly, with the quality they possessed, Argentina retained their Gold Medal status, as they earned nine points from nine beating Ivory Coast 2-1, Australia 1-0 and Serbia 2-0 in Group A, with Messi scoring one against the Ivorians, whilst Napoli’s Ezequiel Lavezzi scored one in each game against the latter two opponents.

The Argentines were given a tricky task against the Netherlands in the quarter-finals, but they beat the Dutch via a strike from Messi and an extra-time winner by Di Maria in a 2-1 win. They would then face bitter rivals Brazil who they thumped 3-0 in the semi-finals as a second-half brace by Aguero and a late penalty from Riquelme saw them cruise into the final. They would meet Nigeria in a repeat of the 1996 final, but this time Di Maria scored the only goal of the game in the 58th minute to seal back-to-back Gold Medals.

Brazil Triumph at Rio 2016

24-year-old Neymar of Barcelona and 19-year-old Manchester City-bound striker Gabriel Jesus were the talking points at Rio 2016 and they didn’t disappoint. Brazil started the tournament slowly in Group A with two 0-0 draws against South Africa and Iraq, but, on matchday three they managed to beat Denmark 4-0 via goals from Gabriel Barbosa (2), Jesus and Luan to advance through to the knockout stages.

Many became sceptical of Brazil’s chances, but they went on to beat Colombia 2-0 in the quarter-finals where Neymar managed to score his first goal of the Olympics. They were then handed a dream tie against Honduras in the semi-finals, who they thrashed 6-0, with both Neymar and Jesus scoring braces, as well as goals coming from PSG centre-back Marquinhos and Luan.

This setup a redemption task against Germany for Brazil who had humiliated them 7-2 on home turf in the World Cup just two years earlier, of which Rogério Micale’s side took this opportunity, drawing with them 1-1 after extra time, as Max Meyer’s strike for Die Mannschaft cancelled out Neymar’s 27th-minute opener. Brazil won the penalty shootout 5-4 with Neymar scoring their fifth penalty before Nils Petersen failed to convert from the spot.

At the 2016 Olympics in Rio, Neymar finished as the tournament’s third top scorer with four goals, only behind Serge Gnabry and Petersen who had profited from hammering Fiji 10-0 in the group stages, managing two and five in that match, whilst Jesus finished just one goal behind his teammate.