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Cesare Casadei wins Golden Ball, Golden Boot but Italy lose U20 World Cup final to Uruguay

Falling at the final hurdle

Italy v Uruguay: Final - FIFA U-20 World Cup Argentina 2023 Photo by Buda Mendes - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images

There would be no fairy tale ending for young Cesare Casadei at the U20 World Cup tonight in the outskirts of Buenos Aires, with Italy coming out on the wrong end of a closely contested 1-0 final against Uruguay.

Nearly 40,000 roared on the almost-home side from across the Bay who were able to nudge the ball over the line from a goalmouth scramble in the 86th minute, which proved to be all the difference they needed to clinch their first ever World Cup title at this level. (And thus made it not matter when they shockingly missed a 5-on-none in the closing stages.)

Uruguay, forever punching above their weight despite a population one-third the size of London (one-fifth, if you count the entire London metropolitan area), lost the 1997 final (to an Argentina team featuring Juan Román Riquelme and Esteban Cambiasso) and the 2013 final (to a France team featuring Paul Pogba and Kurt Zouma), and do of course have two senior World Cup titles to their name as well (1930, 1938).

This was the furthest Italy had ever gotten, and Casadei did collect the Golden Ball for best player as well as the Golden Boot for top goalscorer. He’s just the sixth player in tournament history to nab both of the big individual awards — joining the likes of Lionel Messi, Javier Saviola, and Sergio Agüero — and the first to do so from a team that did not win it all.

Congrats and commiserations to young Cesar. He came, he saw, he nearly conquered.

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