Youth is important in everybody’s life, as the things we do during that part of our existence, will have a huge role on how we’ll live the rest of our lives. This applies not only in life but in football since the stars of tomorrow are usually built today when they’re still youngsters with a lot of expectations around them.
In the past, there have been plenty and plenty of youngster who never lived up to expectations and that will surely continue happening. Football is a very competitive sport, a hard business, therefore, it’s not a surprise when we see talented young players become busts just when they start to gain some recognition.
In the past few years, we have seen more and more of these cases, but there have been ones that have made bigger impacts than others. These are 10 youngsters who looked like the next superstars and ended up being a total failure.
Honorable Mention: Sebastian Giovinco
10. Martin Odegaard
Odegaard landed in Real Madrid’s youth team considered a prominent player in the football world. The Norwegian attacking midfielder was seen as the next big thing thanks to his ability with the ball and how good he was at dribbling and surpassing rivals.
It looked like Madrid had won with this signing, but things started to get out of control very fast; Odegaard didn’t count with many chances in Spain and was given on loan to Dutch side Heerenveen; he then went to play for his current team Vitesse in Eredivisie, trying to be that guy who was observed by many people and a big hope for Real Madrid.
Good thing for Martin and Los Blancos is that he still young (20) and his career can have a revamp, even though he’s not a complete bust.
9. Giovanni Dos Santos
Gio Dos Santos was expected to be the future of Barcelona -alongside Bojan Krkic- and Mexico national team, considering the fact that he was a product of La Masia and took the U17 Mexican national side to win the FIFA World Cup title.
Sadly for Dos Santos, he saw his chances in Barcelona’s first team decreasing at the expense of Bojan Krkic and had to leave the Blaugrana in order to play for Tottenham Spurs. His time in England wasn’t the most desired one and ever since that his career went down spiral and Dos Santos never became the great player he was expected to be.
Considered the next Pele by many experts, Robinho had a similar career than the King when he decided to sign with Spanish giants Real Madrid during the mid-2000s. His first match with the squad can easily be the entire highlight of all his stay in Madrid, as he was never able to play that good again.
He failed to keep the good form in Madrid and his chances to play for the first team were slowly decreasing until there was no room for him in the starting XI. The new rich Manchester City showed up and paid €42 million for Robinho, whose fate was the same in England. He then came back to back to Brazil and play in other European countries, where his career didn’t have much joy.
7. Royston Drenthe
Drenthe was supposed to be another gem in the Netherlands following the likes of Wesley Sneijder and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar -another bust- and just like the two aforementioned, he went to play for Real Madrid after having outstanding campaigns with Feyenoord and the U21 Netherlands national team.
Well, Royston never lived up to the expectations and his chances in the first team declined stepwise until he disappeared just like that. He continued his career in other teams including Everton and Sparta Rotterdam until he decided it was time for him to retire from football when he was only 29. After that, he decided to pursue a career as a rapper.
6. Freddy Adu
Adu, just like Robinho, was considered the successor of the King Pele; he made his professional debut with D.C. United when he was only 14 years old, turning everybody’s eyes instantly to him. A couple of years after that, he made the big jump to Europe, where he got to play for Portuguese side Benfica.
Freddy was unable to succeed at Estadio da Luz. He was a hype more than anything since Adu was never able to show the things people were praising him for before his arrival to Portugal. He was loaned to several teams before he made his way back to the MLS when his career definitely stopped being interesting for anybody.
5. Alexandre Pato
This episode has to be one of the most hurtful in recent years since Pato had everything to succeed and even was able to prove that until his body started to fail him, leaving Alexandre as a huge “what if?”.
Pato enchanted everybody during his days with Brazilian club Internacional and Italian giants Milan didn’t hesitate in acquiring his services. He put on some good numbers in the sheets for the Rossoneri and they would have been a lot more if injuries had had mercy on him.
After six years at San Siro and without the explosiveness and killer instinct he had in prior seasons, he started to wander around plenty of teams trying to find his old and best shape without any success.
Even though he had everything to success in football and his body never betrayed him, Adriano blew one and thousands of chances to become one of the most important and best strikers in football history when he was part of the elite, mostly with Inter Milan.
After good performances with Parma, Adriano landed in Milan to play with Internazionale and he played a great way during his first seasons at Giuseppe Meazza Stadium. Unfortunately, his fascination for the night was the biggest responsible for his debacle as a footballer. Adriano became to play worse and worse and started to gain weight, things that facilitate his exit from Inter.
The history of this guy is very tragical, he was even linked with Brazilian drug dealers, pictured with rifles in his hands and at some point, he was looked by the police thanks to his nexus with gangs. Definitely a waste of talent.
3. Theo Walcott
Everybody though Theo Walcott was going to take the world by storm when he was controversially called to be part of the English national team who played in the 2006 FIFA World Cup held in Germany. Even though he didn’t play a single minute in the tournament, then English manager Sven-Goran Eriksson made sure everybody knows about the prominent youngster, Theo Walcott.
Albeit he was considered a good player with Arsenal, he never came to become a superstar and a worldly praised player; instead, people always felt like he was missing something both in Arsenal and his national side, as Walcott never delivered the quality fans were waiting for him since he was a young player.
2. Mario Balotelli
If you want to become a successful footballer, talent is not the only thing you need in order to achieve that. If you don't focus on your goals and what you want to achieve, that’s going to be a hard job to carry out and that’s exactly what happened to Mario Balotelli. He was considered a different kind of player when he introduced himself as Internazionale’s future, but that never took place.
Balotelli was set to become the leader of his club and his national team, but his antics were stronger than him. He played for several teams after his departure from Inter, making troubles in each of them.
Balotelli got into a fistfight with his then boss Roberto Mancini, was spotted causing troubles in restaurants and nightclubs and that marked the end of his career. Right now he plays with French side Nice, where he has settled to be a good player and not the superstar fans thought he would be.
1. Bojan Krkic
Bojan was a huge promise while he was part of La Masia, expected to become one of the leaders of Barcelona once they made the jump to the first team. Well, none of that happened, as his 800 goals in the youth teams of the club became nothing when he had the chance to prove his talents in the first squad.
Perhaps being called -and expected to be- the new Messi was a lot of pressure for him, who couldn’t deliver during the years he was part of the Blaugrana: Barcelona eventually got rid of Bojan and he started his tour through Europe, playing in England, Italy and the Netherlands among others, becoming one of the biggest busts we’ve seen in recent seasons.