Top 10: Career horror stories

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GMS Academy member Samuel Gilbert picks out players who failed to reach their potential...

10) Potentially a controversial choice, but since his £8 million move from Ipswich to Sunderland in 2011, England under 21 international Connor Wickham has yet to showcase anything that suggests he can cut it in the top flight.

The arrival of American international Jozy Altidore is another blow for Wickham, with this likely to seal his fate as a bit part player in Paulo Di Canio’s plans once again this season. The sooner a move, be it loan or permanent, for Wickham the better.


9) Self proclaimed best forward in the world Nicklas Bendtner makes it onto the list after a torrid last few years. A lethargic playing style partnered with an ego, believing he’s the best thing since slice bread, was to blame for Bendtners inclusion.

Once a prospect after an impressive loan spell with Birmingham back in 2006, European giants AC Milan and Lyon were rumoured to be weighing up moves for the young Dane. But a lengthy poor run of form left Bendtner surplus to requirements at the Emirates and it has been this way ever since.

Desperate to shift him permanently, disappointing loan spells at both Sunderland and then Juventus (somehow) were all that arose. His future is once again the subject of speculation this summer, with Arsenal desperate to get him off the books for good.


8) MACHEDA! ... Is now being linked with the likes of Doncaster Rovers.

With the help of Martin Tyler, the young Italian caught the attention of the football world after a dramatic injury time winner for United against Aston Villa in 2009. He now looks set to continue his run of loan spells in the hope of first team football away from Old Trafford.


7) Once touted as the next Steven Gerrard, Jay Spearing now finds himself as the next Keith Andrews at Championship side Bolton Wanderers.

At 24, Spearing should be a lot further on in his development as a footballer, so barring a late spur to greatness it looks unlikely that this once promising player will make it back to the Premier League. He could always consider a career in modelling?


6) Back in 2008 Tottenham fought hard to snap up an 18 year old John Bostock ahead of stiff competition, believing they had got themselves the potential deal of the century.  Dampening the excitement, significant problems with the player’s contract and the agreement between Spurs and Bostock’s former club Crystal Palace arose, making it more about that than the player’s wellbeing.

This would have placed added pressure on the youngster but he still failed to impress even when given the chance. Now playing for Royal Antwerp in the Belgium second tier.


5) Described as a “gamble on talent” by Arsene Wenger when signed in 2008, Amuary Bischoff lasted only one year at the club before being released.  Having made just 4 appearances for the first team, all cameo outings as a substitute, Bischoff left many asking why did they bother.

After a spell with Académica in Portugal, he now finds himself with German 3rd division side Preußen Münster. Still to this day Bischoff’s Arsenal career remains one of mystery and confusion amongst fans of the North London club.


4) Hampered by injuries and forced to cut short his career, Neil Mellor recently announced his retirement from the game. A huge goal return for Liverpool’s reserve squad saw Gerrard Houllier give the local lad a chance in the first team to which he didn’t disappoint.

Scoring important and sensational goals against the likes of Arsenal and Olympiacos, things were looking good for Mellor. However, surgery on both knees in March 2005, not only left Mellor heartbroken after missing out on being part of the famous 2005 Champions league winning squad, but also left him with little chance of ever making a full recovery.

A disappointing loan spell to Wigan, followed by moves to lower league sides Preston and Sheffield Wednesday left Mellor and others wondering what could have been.


3) Now 23, Vladimir Weiss burst onto the scene at Manchester City with many believing they were witnessing a star in the making. A lack of opportunities led to the young Slovak chancing his arm elsewhere on loan deals, this saw him visit Bolton, Rangers and Espanyol all in the space of two years.

A failure to impress and Man City’s continued investment into new players left him further in the dark, resulting in a deal being struck with at the time Serie B side Pescara. Weiss opted out of Italy after just a year and now plays his football for Greek side Olympiacos.


2) Anderson cost a chunky £22 million back in 2007 when he left Porto to join United. Much was expected of the Brazilian, yet his career in England is yet to kick off, with some wondering will it ever.

It’s hard not to notice Anderson on a football pitch, but he rarely excites or impresses when given the opportunity, leading many to believe he should be shown the door at Old Trafford. The Brazilian is set to go down as one of Sir Alex’s worst purchases as United boss.


1) Freddy Adu isn’t quite the next Pele yet. The American midfielder was supposed to change the face of football in the States and become one of the greats of the game, potentially one day gracing the Bernabeu or Camp Nou.

At the age of 14, Adu became one of the youngest athletes to ever sign a professional contract in America after he was snapped up by DC United in 2004. In 2006, with much hope still remaining for Adu’s career, he was loaned out to Manchester United after a number of public spats with parent club DC over the midfielder’s limited opportunities.

A failure to gain a work permit saw a potential dream move to United fall to apart. Adu remained at the club for just a fortnight and did not feature in any competitive fixtures for the English side.

With this seemingly the catalyst, Adu’s career took a downwards spiral, as he was swapped for a goalkeeper in a move that saw him join fellow MLS side Real Salt Lake. Lasting just half a season with the club, Benfica took a gamble and parted with $2 million to secure the signature of Adu, in the hope of putting his career back on track.

As many as four loan spells took place once Adu arrived at Benfica and a failure to impress once more saw him shipped back to the states with Philadelphia Union. Currently out on loan once again, Adu acts as the stand out nightmare story for footballers throughout the game.

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DISCLAIMER: This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

Amaury Bischoff
Connor Wickham
Neil Mellor
Jay Spearing
Nicklas Bendtner
Premier League
John Bostock
Federico Macheda

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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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