Back in 2008, The Guardian tipped 20 'future England stars' - where are they now?

It’s notoriously difficult to predict who’ll be playing for England in the future. 

With the European Championships pushed back a year to 2021, Gareth Southgate might even be scratching his head as we speak trying to work out whether his line-up will be looking a little different by next summer. 

Now imagine the predicament you’d have trying to guess the Three Lions stars of the future when they were just teenagers. 

The Guardian attempted that very task back in 2008, naming 20 young English players to watch. 

All of them were aged 18 or under at the time and now that over a decade has passed since the list was made, it makes fascinating reading.

As easy as it is to raise an eyebrow while perusing the top 20, it just goes to show that all of the players mentioned were impressing at youth level or as fledging starlets of their respective first teams. 

Sadly, for many of them, their promising careers veered off course – but others, the newspaper got spot on. 

So who were they – and where are they now? 

Jose Baxter 

“Said to be better than Wayne Rooney at 14,” begins Baxter’s introduction. He was also an Evertonian but that’s where the comparisons end. Most of his career was spent in the lower leagues before he headed stateside to Memphis 901 in the USL Championship. 

Mark Beevers

As a teenager at Sheffield Wednesday, lots of top clubs were hovering around the defender. Yet he’s never made the step up to the top flight and is currently playing for Peterborough United in League One. 

John Bostock

Bostock became Tottenham’s youngest ever player but he probably should have just stayed at Crystal Palace, in hindsight. The 28-year-old has played for 13 clubs in his career, from Toronto FC, Royal Antwerp, Bursaspor and now Nottingham Forest on loan from Toulouse. 

Nathan Delfouneso

The peak of his career at Aston Villa came thanks to his UEFA Cup goals but the striker has spent more time in his various spells at Blackpool – his current club – than anywhere else. 

Fabian Delph 

The then-Leeds midfielder probably didn’t expect to win the Premier League with Manchester City by playing at left-back. If truth be told, that was never going to be a permanent solution and he left for Everton in 2019 in an £8.5m deal. 

Danny Drinkwater

Drinkwater has made just three appearances for England and it doesn’t look like he’ll ever be playing for the national side again. The midfielder, who won the league in 2016 with Leicester, has seen his career come to a complete standstill after a string of incidents: drink-driving and most recently, head butting Jota in training during his loan at Aston Villa. He’s played just five games in nearly two seasons. 

Jordan Henderson 

One of the few predictions that was absolutely spot on. It may have taken the Sunderland midfielder some time to earn the respect he deserves but now that he’s won the Champions League with Liverpool (and should be a Premier League champion very soon) he’s definitely made the most of his potential. 

Gavin Hoyte

Hoyte now plays for Maidstone United in the National League South. He only ever made one appearance for Arsenal in the Premier League. 

Henri Lansbury 

Lansbury made a handful of senior appearances at Arsenal and spent most of his time in north London out on loan. The 29-year-old then found his feet in the Championship at Nottingham Forest but hasn’t had as much luck back in the top flight with Aston Villa. 

Josh McEachran

The England U16 captain was so determined to play for boyhood club Chelsea that he turned down the likes of Manchester United to stay at Stamford Bridge. Sadly, he barely made it into the first team and he’s now at Birmingham City. 

Jacob Mellis

Mellis looked an extremely versatile asset as a teenager at Chelsea but nowadays, it’s a very different story. The midfielder’s career took a downturn in 2019 when he was released by Mansfield Town for a breach of discipline and he later signed for cash-strapped Bolton. 

Victor Moses

Moses played for England as a youth but ultimately chose to represent the country of his birth, Nigeria, at senior level. He was a key part of Antonio Conte’s Chelsea side that won the Premier League in 2017 and is now at Inter Milan on loan. 

Nile Ranger

There’s no nice way to say it. Ranger wasted his career. The striker spent time in prison and ended up being released by his most recent club Southend due to disciplinary issues. It’s a great shame as he really did look promising at Newcastle. 

Jack Rodwell 

Aged 16, Rodwell became the youngest player in history to feature for Everton in Europe. Yet a move to Manchester City proved ill-fated and he’s since had underwhelming spells at Sunderland and Blackburn. While he joined Sheffield United in the New Year, he’s yet to make a league appearance.  

Freddie Sears

Remember when Sears was the next big thing coming out of West Ham’s famous academy? He looked like he was ready for the big time when he scored on his debut and Gianfranco Zola clearly rated him highly. The forward has spent the last five years at Ipswich Town. 

Jonjo Shelvey

At the time, Shelvey was still at Charlton and he did enough to earn a move to Liverpool. The midfielder was at Anfield for one of their more inglorious periods and moved on, now finding himself at Newcastle United. He’s played for England six times. 

Danny Welbeck

Another solid call. Welbeck didn’t just look a prospect in Manchester United’s youth team – he followed it up in the Premier League too. The striker also scored 16 international goals but injuries sabotaged him after his move to Arsenal. More recently, he’s yet to score a Premier League goal for Watford. 

Aidan White

A bold shout as White was playing for Leeds in League One at the time. The full-back joined Hearts last year, but whether he might have played for England is immaterial now; he switched allegiances to the Republic of Ireland as an under-21. 

Jack Wilshere

Were it not for terrible luck with injuries, Wilshere might well have been an England great. Those same issues ultimately ended his time at Arsenal and he’s not exactly been a hit at West Ham. 

Michael Woods

Chelsea nabbed him from Leeds and he made his debut under Luiz Felipe Scolari. It’s several years since he played in the Football League and at present, he’s turning out for Dover Athletic. 

They stuck their neck out with some of these predictions but some of them have proved correct. 

For those that never made it to senior level with England, there’s no harm done. It’s simply impossible to know how a teenager’s career is going to pan out. 

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