The first footprints were impressed on the path to Euro 2016 by the bulk of the participating nations this week.
European Championship qualifying campaigns and their occurrence but months after the World Cup’s conclusion frequently prove a breeding ground for the emergence of new names on the international scene.
This one appears to be no different, with these three fledgling superstars providing the case studies after lighting up the opening round of pre-tournament matches:
The Valencia striker known to his friends as Paco notched the second goal of Spain’s 5-1 routing of Macedonia to commemorate his first start in the colours of La Furia Rojo.
Were Chelsea’s Diego Costa fit, the one-time Arsenal target wouldn’t have featured, but after struggling in the centre-forward ranks in the last couple of years, it looks as though the 2010 world champions now have two top talents to turn to in the goal-getting department.
Denmark handed the FC Bayern Munchen whizz kid his first competitive cap in their 2-1 toppling of Armenia and were rewarded when the 19-year-old levelled proceedings in Copenhagen.
Deployed in centre-midfield, Hojbjerg’s task in the Danish team going forward will be to use his passing prowess to ensure conjurer in-chief Christian Eriksen sees plenty of the ball.
Antonio Conte handed the Sassuolo line-leader his international bow in a friendly with the Netherlands last week, selecting him ahead of incumbent line-leader Mario Balotelli for the non-competitive clash.
Following the Azzurri’s 2-0 win over Norway last time out, his stats read two starts, one goal and more caps are in the pipeline.
Zaza notched nine times in 2013/14 and is one from one so far this term.