Royston Drenthe was one of the most exciting young talents in European football a decade ago.
The Dutchman, who made his professional debut with Feyenoord in 2005, had the world at his talented feet and caught the eye while playing for the Netherlands at the 2007 UEFA European Under-21 Championship.
Drenthe was named as the tournament’s best player, despite only scoring one goal, starring in the Oranje’s 4-1 victory over Serbia in the final.
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With his dreadlocks flapping about as he dribbled past opponents, Drenthe resembled the great Dutch midfielder Edgar Davids, except he flourished out on the wing rather than the middle of the pitch like his compatriot.
Drenthe appeared to have it all and was subsequently signed by Real Madrid who, after scouting the youngster at the Under-21 Championships, paid Feyenoord €14 million for his services.
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Excitement grew after Drenthe's Madrid debut goal
Excitement over Drenthe, who was presented as a Real Madrid player alongside Wesley Sneijder, grew exponentially when he slammed in a 40-yard strike against Sevilla on his debut for the Spanish giants.
Little did Drenthe know that moment would arguably be the zenith of his career.
Drenthe's sad decline
The Dutchman struggled for regular game time at the Bernabeu over the next couple of seasons and spent the 2010-11 and 2011-12 campaigns on loan at Hercules and Everton, respectively.
A player who was expected to become a mainstay in the Netherlands’ national team went on to win one international cap.
Drenthe left Madrid permanently in 2012, signing for Reading where he spent two underwhelming seasons.
In 2015 he had a brief spell at the Turkish club Kayseri Erciyesspor and then signed for the Abu Dhabi-based outfit Baniyas Club later that year.
Earlier this year, however, Drenthe left the club.
Drenthe is a free agent - and still only 29
Where is he now? Well, he’s without a team.
That’s right: Drenthe, who only turned 29 in April, is a free agent and seemingly unable to find another club willing to pay him.
There’s nothing sadder in football than wasted talent and it could be argued that this is a classic case of a promising young footballer moving to a big club too soon in their career.
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