The news that Jordan Henderson has been called into the England squad as the replacement for Frank Lampard has been greeted with dismay, resignation and even open scorn by some internet comedians.
And it's not hard to understand why: the 21-year-old Liverpool midfielder has had a tough time of it since moving to Anfield for an eyewatering £16 million last summer, failing to impress as he has picked up just two goals and one assist in 37 outings for the Reds.
But the doomsayers should be very wary of writing off the Sunderland-born starlet - or for that matter his Liverpool team-mate Andy Carroll - because the history of tournament football is brimming over with stories of unlikely young heroes stepping up just as the eyes of the world focus on them.
So with that in mind, and largely in a spirit of blind optimism, we take a look at the young guns who burst to prominence at big tournaments.
- - -
Pele - 1958 World Cup
The Brazilian legend had been drafted into Santos's first team at the age of 15 and his national side a year later (after being the league's top scorer), but it was only when he turned up for the World Cup in Sweden aged 17 that he became a global figure. Having been initially excluded from the squad on the grounds of being mentally weak, he was reinstated following a public outcry and made a stunning impact. He scored the winning goal against Wales in the quarter-finals, knocked in a hat-trick against France in the semis and added another two goals in the 5-2 win against the host nation in the final to confirm his arrival. Garrincha also emerged as an international star at the same tournament, though he was a fair bit older at 24. Brazil never lost a match with both men on the pitch.
Geoff Hurst - 1966 World Cup
Jimmy Greaves was England's number one striker as the World Cup got under way, but sustained a gash in his leg in the group stage against France and was replaced by Hurst for the quarter-finals. The 24-year-old - who'd played just five times for England before the tournament - scored against Argentina, then set up the winner in the semi-final against Portugal to ensure that he kept the now-fit Greaves out of the final. His subsequent hat-trick as England beat West Germany 4-2 ensured that he would always be a legend, whereas Greaves's lasting fame eventually rested on his fatuous "funny old game" catchphrase coined in his 1980s football chat show alongside Ian St John.
Franz Beckenbauer - 1966 World Cup
The main who became known as 'Der Kaiser' was a little-known 20-year-old when he forced his way into the West Germany side for the World Cup just nine months after his international debut. He scored two goals in his very first World Cup match, and ended up as the third-highest scorer of the tournament despite playing in midfield.
Gary Lineker - 1986 World Cup
Lineker had enjoyed a stellar season with Everton before the tournament, but had never really shone for England, and after breaking his wrist in a pre-season friendly he admitted that he looked at his own father "like he was a madman" when he found out his old man had bet on him at 14-1 to be the top scorer at the tournament. After two poor performances in the opening matches he narrowly avoided being dropped, but scored a hat-trick in the next game against Poland, two more against Paraguay in the last 16 and one against Argentina in the 'Hand of God' quarter-final defeat to establish himself as one of the biggest stars in the game.
Paul Gascoigne - 1990 World Cup
Gazza had been on the fringes of the international team for a couple of years when the World Cup began, with the Spurs midfielder only establishing himself as a regular starter a short while before when he scored one goal and set up three more in a match against Czechoslovakia. The rest is history, Gazza's stunning performances a bright spot for a side who, in truth, rode their luck all the way through to the semi-final. Once there, it was his brilliant dribbling and magical touches as much as his tears after being yellow carded which turned him into a superstar.
Pavel Nedved - 1996 European Championships
The 25-year-old was still with Sparta Prague and an unknown quantity on the international scene when the recently-formed Czech national team turned up in England for Euro 96. A few weeks later all that was changed as Nedved was the lynchpin of the team that made an incredible run to the final before being denied the trophy by Germany. His heroics earned him a transfer to Lazio, and he went on to establish a massively successful career in Italy.
Michael Owen - 1998 World Cup
When Pele suggested Owen could be one of the stars of the World Cup in France, most people politely coughed into their hands and changed the subject: after all, he'd only made his England debut in February and it was no surprise when he was left on the bench for the opening two matches of the tournament. But the Brazilian legend was proven spectacularly right: Owen came on in the second home against Romania and almost singlehandedly saved England from a defeat (he scored a goal and hit the post as England lost 2-1) then score a solo goal in the last-16 against Argentina that is one of the best ever at a World Cup to become a footballing legend at the age of just 18.
Thierry Henry — 1998 World Cup
The 20-year-old had only played his way into the side after impressing for Monaco in their Champions League run, and doing well in a friendly against South Africa in October 1997, prompting Aime Jacquet decided to take Henry to the World Cup as an extra attacking option. He ended up as the winners' joint-top scorer of the tournament with three goals, though Marcel Desailly's sending off robbed him of a chance to play in the final.
Ronaldinho - 2002 World Cup
The Brazilian had been only a bit-part player for PSG in the domestic season, but was trusted as part of Brazil's first choice XI for the World Cup in Japan and Korea. He repaid the faith of coach Luiz Felipe Scolari by scoring the winner against England in the quarter-final with a floating free kick that caught David Seaman off his line from 35 yards out, prompting many 'fluke or genius' discussions. The answer: genius.
Wayne Rooney - 2004 European Championships
Rooney was already England's youngest ever goalscorer when he turned up at Euro 2004, and promptly became the youngest scorer in the history of the competition with a brace against Switzerland (a record broken by Switzerland's Johan Vonlanthen just four days later). His outrageous confidence on the ball instantly saw him heralded as one of the world's best players, and when England were eliminated by Portgal on penalties it scarcely seemed to matter since Rooney had already hobbled off injured.
Thomas Mueller - 2010 World Cup
The German forward had been turning out for Bayern Munich's reserves a year before the World Cup in South Africa, but had broken into the German side's first team in the 2009-10 season and earned his international chance. Things didn't start well as he fell of a bicycle before the tournament, but he scored five goals in six matches to win the Golden Boot as Germany's almost unknown young side became the toast of the tournament.