This report traces the paths the players selected for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ have taken on their climb up the football pyramid. The five articles in this series cover the clubs and leagues where these players currently play their football (see part 2), the clubs and associations where these footballers spent their formative years as footballers, between their 15th and 21st birthdays (see part 3), and the teams and senior leagues where they played their football up to the age of 23 (see part 4).
One striking feature of this study is the sheer number of clubs involved in developing the players who are appearing at the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Between them, they played for no fewer than 763 clubs from the beginning of their careers until their 23rd birthdays. An analysis of the leagues these clubs play in shows similar variety: the same players appeared in a total of 117 different league competitions. The report also reveals the importance of "B-teams" (i.e. the second teams of major professional clubs, playing senior football further down the domestic pyramid or in dedicated reserve leagues) in the development of players.