There have been a number of cases over the years of players emerging onto the scene at a very young age and quickly being labelled as 'wonderkids' or 'the next big thing'. 

However on several occasions such players have not fulfilled this potential, sometimes to dramatic effect.

So here's a look at the top five players who never quite realised their apparent potential, and the reasons why this happened.

Freddy Adu

Freddy signed a professional contract with DC United in 2003 at the tender age of 14, making him the youngest American athlete to sign a professional Major League contract in over 100 years.

After making his debut in 2004 he became the youngest player to appear in professional sport in the US for well over 100 years. He was even given the FIFPRO 'Young Player of the Year' award in 2005.

Adu transferred to Portugese giants Benfica in 2007, yet failed to make an impact, and, after several loan spells away from the club, returned to the MLS in 2011. 

He was not included in USA's 2010 World Cup squad.

Adu's failure to live up to the hype could be down to him being labelled as a superstar at far too young an age, thus creating too much pressure on him, or simply that he peaked very early on and simply was not that good.

John Bostock

Bostock made his league debut for Crystal Palace in 2007 at the age of 15, and a lot of hype soon followed.

He was transferred to Tottenham Hotspur in 2008, much to the disgust of then Crystal Palace chairman, Simon Jordan.

However, to date Bostock has made only four senior appearances for Spurs and has been loaned out and subsequently sent back early on several occasions.

He is currently on loan at MLS side Toronto FC.

It seems that it was a case of too much too young for Bostock, and it looks unlikely that he will ever have a career in England's top flight.

Calum Davenport

Davenport is another player who failed to make the grade at Spurs after a transfer at a young age.

Having played for England at under-17, under-19 and under-21 level, the now 30-year-old defender is currently in a player/coach role at United Counties side Wootton Blue Cross.

Davenport was loaned to Southampton in 2005, a team that would be relegated at the end of the season, and it may have been this setback that was the catalyst for the unfulfilled promise in his career.

Giovani Dos Santos

In the minds of some this may be a contentious inclusion, however as many Spurs fans will tell you, Giovani Dos Santos did not live up to the hype.

Despite a more fruitful international career, Dos Santos' periods at club sides have never met the expectation that preceded them.

He started out as a promising youngster at Barcelona but was sold to Tottenham in 2008 at the age of 19.

Barcelona's decision to sell such a young player could have casted doubt on the potential for him to turn into the world class player that some thought he could be.

His time at Tottenham was filled with loan spells away or runs in the reserves.

There were also questions from former manager Harry Redknapp about Dos Santos' commitment. "If he could pass a nightclub as well as he can pass a ball he would be alright," said the QPR boss back in 2010.  

Dos Santos now plies his trade in Spain with Mallorca, and at the age of 23 could still have a successful career.

However, to date he is one of the much hyped young players who never lived up to their billing.

Wayne Bridge

Many have voiced their opinions on Wayne Bridge and his time at Manchester City, where he earned a reported £90,000-per-week, yet only made 57 appearances across three seasons.

Indeed many may also argue that he did have a successful career, making 36 appearances for England. However he had the promise to do so much more.

His time at Chelsea and Manchester City was spent on the sidelines more often than the pitch and it seems that he was content to simply pick up his pay-cheque rather than to stake his place in the first-team.

A player with so much potential and ability who squandered his career through a lack of ambition, and this is why he makes the list.

There may well be other additions to this list that could be made, and we'd love to hear your thoughts. Leave your comments below!


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