In January 2013, the Daily Mail stuck their necks on the line to predict 15 future England stars.
They picked out the best teenagers in the country and told readers they were ’15 teen stars you should get excited about.’
But a lot can happen to 16 and 17-year-olds that prevents them from fulfilling their potential.
A move to the wrong club, injuries, or not the right attitude could leave their career spiralling out of control.
And that, unfortunately, is what’s happened to many of the 15 teenage sensations the Daily Mail touted in 2013.
It’s been nine years since these stars were tipped for greatness and they should now be in the prime of their career.
That’s not quite the case…
The Daily Mail wrote: “England Under 17 star signed first professional contract last week. Everton took him from Bradford and he has already drawn comparisons with Paul Gascoigne. Technically good, has an eye for a pass, can go past players and score.”
What happened to him: Green left Everton without making a first-team appearance and admitted he allowed the hype surrounding him – and the money – go to his head. He left Everton for Oldham before sinking to the eighth tier to play for Ossett Town.
He did recover to represent Kilmarnock and Viking in the Scottish and Norwegian top-flight and now finds himself at non-league Ossett United in the Northern Premier League Division One East – a club formed after his previous side, Ossett Town, disbanded.
The Daily Mail wrote: “Holds record as Liverpool’s youngest player after appearing against former club West Brom earlier this season as a late substitute. Has good pace and scores goals. Still growing but draws comparisons with clubmate Raheem Sterling.”
What happened to him: Sinclair is still Liverpool’s youngest ever player but is currently without a club at the age of 25. He had a spell at Watford as well as loan spells with Birmingham, Sunderland, Oxford, VVV-Venlo and CSKA Sofia.
The Daily Mail wrote: “He appeared as a late substitute against inter Milan in the NextGen Series on Tuesday. His performance was brief but enough for Robbie Fowler to comment that ‘he could be the next Steven Gerrard.’ Has the attributes for the praise not to become a burden.“
What happened to him: Rossiter left Liverpool for Rangers in 2016 but struggled for first-team appearances. He’s now playing under Joey Barton at Bristol Rovers, via Fleetwood.
The Daily Mail wrote: “A complete midfielder, he has already played for England U19s. He is dynamic and sets a tempo for his side. He was one of only two England players picked out by the European Championship tournament committee as among the best U17 talents in Europe last year. They commented on his ability to ‘begin attacking movements’ for his team.”
What happened to him: Lundstram made a name for himself at Oxford under Chris Wilder as they earned promotion to League One. He then teamed up with Wilder again at Sheffield United and helped their unlikely charge to the Premier League. He’s now at Rangers.
The Daily Mail wrote: “Loftus-Cheek has been at Chelsea since he was eight and played for the club’s youth team while still an Under 15. A box-to-box midfielder, he has attracted interest from both Manchester clubs and Barcelona.”
What happened to him: Perhaps the first player to actually live up to the hype. Loftus-Cheek is still at Chelsea – although it’s taken a while for him to cement his status as a first-team player. He’s made 124 appearances for the club to date.
The Daily Mail wrote: “Shaw has been dubbed the new Gareth Bale. There were fears that he might not yet have the mental strength to hack it in the Premier League but he was handed a chance and has since been one of Southampton’s best players. His first top-flight start coincided with Saints shoring up the leakiest defence in the league and he has since become a regular in the side. Shaw is as good going forward as he is at the back, fitting the Bale comparisons.”
What happened to him: Has Shaw fulfilled his incredible potential? If it wasn’t for a double leg fracture in 2015, he may well have gone on to achieve greatness. He’s still had a fantastic career so far despite playing for an underwhelming Manchester United side.
What happened to him: Hughes was something of a wonderkid at Derby but probably hasn’t enjoyed the career many expected. He played regular Premier League football at Watford and is back in the top flight with Patrick Vieira’s Crystal Palace.
What happened to him: Chalobah is far from the only Chelsea youngster to be shipped out on loan multiple times, having spells at Middlesbrough, Burnley and Napoli amongst others. He joined Watford permanently and featured during their time in the Premier League. He’s since moved to Fulham where he helped them earn promotion to the Premier League – although was very much a bit-part figure.
The Daily Mail wrote: “Exciting winger who has been in the first team squad. Plays international football for Republic of Ireland but qualifies for England.”
What happened to him: The Daily Mail didn’t hype Grealish up too much but he’s gone on to become a £100 million player, joining Manchester City after carrying Aston Villa on his back for many years.
Diego De Girolamo
The Daily Mail wrote: “Striker who made his debut this season and already attracting attention from top scouts. Plays international football for Italy but eligible for England, born in Chesterfield and nurtured at Sheffield United’s academy.”
What happened to him: De Girolamo made just 10 appearances for Sheffield United who were in League One at the time. Various loan spells followed and the 26-year-old now finds himself at Buxton in the National League North. He helped his side earn promotion last season with 20 goals in 31 league matches.
The Daily Mail wrote: “Diego Poyet is a midfielder who has represented England and has good technique. Has potential and also been watched by Arsenal. Has an intelligent father in Brighton manager Gus to keep him progressing.”
What happened to him: Poyet won Charlton’s Player of the Year as an 18-year-old and appeared set to follow in his father’s footsteps. However, the 27-year-old is now without a club after failed spells in Argentina and Cyprus.
The Daily Mail wrote: “Talented wonderkid in the classic No 10 mould who is considered one of the country’s best prospects.”
What happened to him: Brown was signed by Chelsea from West Brom as a 17-year-old and many believed it wouldn’t be long until he was playing first-team football at Stamford Bridge. But after helping Huddersfield get promoted to the Premier League, he suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury while on loan at Brighton.
Spells at Leeds, Luton and Sheffield Wednesday followed before a permanent move to Preston last summer. However, the 25-year-old is now a free agent.
The Daily Mail wrote: “Gomez is a very athletic centre back at a crunch period of his development. Has been watched by Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool and Charlton have tied him up on a good contract.”
What happened to him: The Daily Mail were right – Liverpool were watching him because they signed him soon afterwards. The defender has been prone to injury during his time at Anfield but has played almost 150 times for the club and signed a new contract until 2027.
The Daily Mail wrote: “He is being tipped to follow in former team-mate Nick Powell’s footsteps and join a Premier League club. He has scored regularly for England youth sides and started the season well at Crewe, winning the League One player of the month for August. Arsenal and Man Utd have been linked with moves for him.”
What happened to him: Clayton left Crewe not for a Premier League side but for Bolton. Injuries hampered his time as Bolton were relegated and he was allowed to join Blackpool. He joined non-league Altrincham in the summer of 2020 but was released two months later by mutual consent after making just one league appearance for the club.
The Daily Mail wrote: “Already 6ft 1in, this confident keeper has followed in the footsteps of Joe Hart at Shrewsbury and been capped at England.”
What happened to him: Burton has played for several non-league clubs on loan before his move to Cambridge, where he was the club’s No.1 in League Two. He’s now the back-up goalkeeper for League One Plymouth.