A lot has been made lately about the lack of English players in the English Premier League. In fact, many fans believe the country is nothing but a backdrop for the competition. But while there may not be an overabundance of homegrown players in the league right now, there are definitely some bright young prospects who could one day star for the country’s senior national side in the near future. Most of the attention-grabbing and headline-making players are those who have the knack for putting the ball in the net.
At the moment, England boasts young goalscoring stars such as Harry Kane of Tottenham Hotspur, Danny Ings of Burnley, Saido Berahino of West Bromwich Albion and Queens Park Rangers’ Charlie Austin. But for every young soccer player with a bright future ahead of him there has been a greater number of them who have crashed and burned before they could establish a long-term career. We’ve seen several English youngsters evolve into world-class stars in the past with the likes of Paul Gascgoine, Michael Owen, and Wayne Rooney being among the best of the bunch.
Those who have come and gone like a failed Broadway show are harder to remember simply because for one reason or another they weren’t able to live up to their potential. These players all appeared to be stars in the making, but after brief moments of glory weren’t able to sustain their play at the top level. These are 10 English youngsters who all hit the ground running early on in their Premier League careers, but ultimately failed to live up to their billing and are rarely mentioned or even remembered by some fans anymore. They made this list based on their potential, expectations of them, and/or their transfer costs.
10 Andy Carroll
It may be a bit harsh to place Andy Carroll on this list since he’s a fine soccer player, but is simply injury prone and hasn’t lived up to the high expectations placed on him or his enormous transfer costs. When he was 21 years old Carroll had scored 11 times for Newcastle United before New Year’s Day in the 2010-11 Premier League campaign and his performance earned him a call up by England. He had been with Newcastle since 2006 and left in 2011 with 31 goals in 80 games.
9 Matt Jansen
8 Danny Cadamarteri
Cadamarteri opened his account with Everton back in September of the 1997-98 season with a highlight-reel goal against Arsenal. The 18-year-old striker then followed it up a month later with a better tally against Liverpool in the famous Merseyside derby. Soccer fans believed Cadamarteri was destined for stardom and a role with the English national team, but his goal against Liverpool was the last one he’d score that season. He’d play 93 league games with Everton and scored 13 goals.
7 Michael Bridges
Bridges was 21 years old back in 1999 when he joined Leeds United from Sunderland, where he scored 16 goals in 79 games, and appeared to be destined for an exciting career at Elland Road under manager David O’Leary. Bridges hit the back of the net 19 times during the 1999-00 campaign and it looked like he’d be a shoo-in for an England career.
6 James Vaughan
With Vaughan becoming the youngest goalscorer in Premier League history back in 2005, Everton thought they had another English star like Michael Owen or Wayne Rooney. However, he never got into a groove at Goodison Park due to injuries. He scored seven goals in 47 league matches with Everton between 2004 and 2011, but was also sent out on loan to Derby county, Leicester City and Crystal Palace where he scored a combined 10 goals in 40 league matches.
5 Michael Ricketts
Ricketts turned pro with Walsall in 1996 and scored 14 times in 76 appearances before joining Premier League side Bolton in 2000. He scored 15 goals for the Wanderers in the opening half of the 2001-02 campaign and was called up by England as a 23-year-old. He played 45 minutes for his homeland against Holland and that was the start and end of his national senior career. The experience must have affected him somehow since Ricketts didn’t score another league goal for the rest of the season.
4 Francis Jeffers
Striker Francis Jeffers enjoyed four decent seasons with Everton from 1997 to 2001 before Arsenal snatched him up for eight million pounds, which was a ton of money back in those days. Jeffers had 18 league goals in 49 games at Everton, but could only manage four in 22 outings with the Gunners. The youngster was sent back to Everton on loan for half of the 2003-04 campaign and then drifted around Britain playing for several other teams including Charlton, Blackburn, and Ipswich. He also jetted off to Australia for a season with the Newcastle Jets in 2010-11. He finished up with Accrington Stanley in 2013 before retiring.
3 Neil Mellor
2 David Bentley
Much like the car of the same name, Bentley was expected to be an elite performer in the Premier League and for his country. Bentley broke into soccer with Arsenal in 2002 and was signed with the London club until 2006, but played just one league game with the Gunners. Bentley spent the rest of those years out on loan with the likes of Norwich City and Blackburn where he scored just twice in a combined 40 games. Blackburn signed him permanently in 2006 and he chipped in with 13 league goals in 88 games.
1 Ravel Morrison
Former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson once stated that Ravel Morrison was the best 14-year-old player he’d ever set his eyes on. A glorious career for club and country was predicted for the youngster when he was with United in 2010, but he never played a single league game for the club. Ferguson got rid of him in 2012 and Morrison ended up at West Ham United. He appeared in 18 games with the London club and scored three times. However, he was sent out on loan to Birmingham, Cardiff City and then Queens Park Rangers.
Morrison scored a combined nine goals in 49 contests while on loan and is still under contract with West Ham. However, the 22-year-old has a reputation of being a bit of a troublemaker and has been in trouble with the law. Hammers have decided to let him leave and join Italian Serie A club Lazio at the end of the current season. Morrison has represented England at the Under-16, 17, 18 and 21 levels, but his reputation has more or less driven him out of England. He leaves with 14 goals in 81 career club games up to now.
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