FIFA World Cup 2023: 16-year-old ‘Little Messi’ Barcelona star makes history in Italy vs Argentina clash

Giulia Dragoni. (Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)
Giulia Dragoni. (Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)

Italy midfielder Giulia Dragoni made Women’s World Cup history this morning when she started for her side in their tournament opener against Argentina at just 16-years of age.

The teenager made her international bow as recently as this month in a 0-0 pre-tournament draw with Morocco, however, her manager Milena Bertolini obviously saw enough after including her in today’s opening Group G win over Argentina.

An 87th minute strike from Cristiana Girelli handed the Italians a deserved late win in a game that saw Dragoni play a full 83 minutes of the clash before she was replaced by the goalscorer.

The midfielder, who plays in Spain for Barcelona, is now the sixth-youngest to ever start a match at the FIFA Women’s World Cup and Italy’s youngest ever player to start a game at the competition, beating former record holder Simone Parfundi by just 11 days.

Dubbed ‘Little Messi’ due to her playing similarities to the footballing icon, Dragoni has been tipped for stardom after joining Inter Milan’s academy aged just 10. She later when on to become the youngest-ever player to appear in Serie A Femminile last year when after she played for Fiorentina just a fortnight after her 16th birthday.

She joined European champions Barcelona in January and while she has yet to make her senior bow for the club, she has already managed to break into the first time squad for the UEFA Women’s Champions League.