When it comes to predicting the stars of tomorrow, there really are no guarantees.
There have been countless so-called ‘wonder-kids’ down the years, usually aged between 13-19, who have been tipped for greatness thanks to their eye-catching performances at youth level.
However, the large majority of them have failed to fulfil the huge expectations placed on their shoulders.
For every Lionel Messi there are, unfortunately, another 20 Freddy Adus.
It takes much more than talent to make it at the highest level. Young players who don’t work tirelessly and dedicate themselves to the professional will, more often than not, fall by the wayside.
Manchester United have had an abundance of talented young players in their ranks who have ultimately flattered to deceive.
The likes of Ravel Morrison, John Cofie and Rhain Davis were all heralded by the press as the next big thing - but you might not even know where they’re playing now, or even if they’re still playing.
Another player who was tipped for big things is a lad called Febian Brandy, who Barcelona submitted a bid for in the summer of 2007 after he scored the winning goal against Juventus in the Champions Youth Cup Final.
A product of United’s youth academy, Brandy was a star at youth level and duly caught the attention of the Catalan giants.
But where is he now?
Well, Andy Mitten - one of the best journalists for all things Man Utd-related - briefly mentioned Brandy in his latest ESPN column.
“Talented young players have come along before and the truth is that, while nearly every age group seems to have one and at the top clubs, most do not fulfil vast expectation,” Mitten writes.
“Little more than a decade ago, for example, Febian Brandy was winning player of the tournament as a 15-year-old and receiving bids for his talent from Barcelona. He ended up sleeping on a friend's couch and going unpaid in Greek football.”
Oh dear. From being chased by Barcelona to sleeping on a mate’s couch - that’s some fall from grace.
A little more digging shows that Brandy has plied his trade with a host of clubs in the Football League including Walsall and Rochdale.
He also had a spell with Ubon UMT United over in Thailand and is listed by some websites as being on the books of Ebbsfleet United in the National League.
However, it turns out Brandy was actually released by Ebbsfleet a couple of months ago and now plays for Droylsden FC, who compete in the Northern Premier League Division One North - the eighth tier of English football.
He’s only 29 years old, too, which makes his plight all the sadder.
Who knows what might have happened had he completed a move to the Camp Nou 10 years ago.
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