Football’s wasted talents

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Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is being touted as the next big thing for England – he is not the first to draw such praise and it doesn’t always turn out as predicted.


‘The Ox’ has been fully deserving of the praise bestowed upon his stocky shoulders with performances full of vigour and pacey dynamism and, as every droning analytical sidekick ex-player seems to be remarking at, ‘football intelligence’.


While nobody can really claim not-guilty to the charge of over-hyping a largely unproven prospect, it would be wise to temper the general enthusiasm surrounding ‘The Ox’, as it could all go horribly wrong.


The Football League is littered with ‘might-haves’ and ‘could-have-beens’, who were hailed by fans, the press and commentators as set for something extraordinary, only to slide into the sea of mediocrity and unfulfilled potential.


There are reams of false dawns out there and GMF wants to bring reality back to the forefront by reminding us all of how it can go wrong and for whom.


Freddy Adu


Adu’s rise to fame was an absurdity in the extreme, signing a professional contract at just 14 years old and being touted as the next Pele with a big sponsorship deal with Nike.


Adu has so far failed to live up to expectation, seeing his career go from MLS to Benfica and subsequent loans around Europe’s lesser leagues, each less glamorous than the last.


The intermittent USA international has now returned to his homeland with Philadelphia Union. One thing in his favour is that he is still just 22 and apparently thinks his career is right on track.



Francis Jeffers


Labelled the ‘fox in the box’ that Arsenal needed to convert the numerous chances they had been creating but were unable to capitalise on, Jeffers was bought for £8million by Arsene Wenger.


Although Jeffers was hampered by injury throughout his career, he failed to live up to his hype at the Gunners and proceeded to slide down the leagues. He is now plying his trade for Newcastle United Jets in Australia’s A-League.



Luke Chadwick


Bursting onto the scene at Manchester United, many thought the quick winger was going to go on to bigger and better things after a period of development, even occasionally being touted as Ryan Giggs’ long-term successor.


It was never to be, with his speed and ability to run at defenders drying up some time after his lack of a quality final ball had been exposed and the inevitable series of lower league loans came.


He is currently experiencing some success, however, with MK Dons in League One where he is a firm fans favourite.



Dean Ashton


Unfulfilled potential isn’t always about being unable to make the step up and develop talent into a successful career; sometimes injuries can stop a player from really becoming the player they ought to have been.


Ashton had a decent early career in the Championship, eventually making it into the Premier league with Norwich City. But it was at West Ham United where he really began to make his name and was given a chance to impress with England.


Tragically, he broke his ankle while training with England and missed the entire following season. Ashton did make his England debut in 2008 but he was constantly held back by residual injuries to the ankle that was broken and was forced to retire in late 2009.



Jody Morris


The Chelsea graduate was tipped to be a long-term fixture in the Blues midfield, as well as that of England. A calm-headed passer of the ball, Morris was distracted by certain off-field issues and eventually ended up slipping down the leagues with Leeds United, before eventually ending up at Scottish minnows St Johnstone.


Morris has now said he is keen to get into management and admits he made mistakes, which led to him not realise the great promise he had shown.



Stan Collymore


The Midlands-born man made his name as a scorer of spectacular goals at Nottingham Forest in the early/mid-90s, helping bring the club back into the top flight after relegation in the 1992-93 season.


His form at Forest earned him a move to Liverpool in 1995 and, as was often the case, he started his career there well. The pressure of playing at a big club could maybe be the reason for his failure to really make the grade.


A move to Aston Villa followed and he slid further and further form the limelight, he also suffered form depression. A switch to La Liga side Real Oviedo was seen as a good place to make a fresh start and get his career back on track, but fitness issues and an inability to settle in Spain led to him announcing his retirement at the age of 30.


Comments and criticisms are welcome on any of the choices; just say what you think below. GMF also wants to hear your own nominees for wasted potential or players who you think may fade away.

Ryan Giggs
League One
Premier League
Francis Jeffers
Dean Ashton
Stan Collymore
Luke Chadwick

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