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Top 10 Underwhelming 'Wonderkids' in Soccer History

The worldwide interest in soccer is immense, and as a result, when a youngster breaks onto the scene and performs to a high level, it can often whip supporters and the media up into a frenzy. The worry is that the press tends to forget that these players are mere mortals, and a young men who can often be crushed under the incredible weight of expectation put upon them.

Some players who seem destined for greatness go on to do just that. In recent years, the likes of Wayne Rooney, Lionel Messi and Neymar all gave exhilarating performances as teenagers and had the hopes, sometimes of entire nations, placed upon them. The aforementioned three dealt with such pressures, but many cannot. Having been hailed as 'wonderkids', often whilst still schoolboys, many burn out spectacularly or simply fade away.

In some cases, the pressure put upon these young players is cited as the very reason for their downfall. Other explanations include horrible injuries, poor attitude and some claim the vast riches given to youngsters before they have really achieved anything, can quell their hunger to go on to genuine greatness. It perhaps serves as a lesson to all of us, and the media, that we shouldn't be in a rush to crown someone as the next phenom in football. Not everybody is wired to handle the enormous expectations that are placed upon them at such a young age. Do any of us remember how tough being a teenager was at times? Imagine if similar expectations were placed on our shoulders. Would we all take it in stride, or would the pressure get to us too?

Here are 10 men who were labelled as the 'next Pele/Maradona/Messi' but never lived up to the hype.

10 Robinho

via imguol.com

9 James Vaughan

via tipsfotball.com

8 Bojan

via blaugranas.com

7 Michael Johnson

via caughtoffside.com

6 Federico Macheda

via football365.com

5 Diego Buonanotte

via lavozibre.com

4 Kerlon

via sambafoot.com

3 Javier Saviola

via sbisoccer.com

2 Nii Lamptey

Action Images
Nii Lamptey - Aston Villa

1 Freddy Adu

via mlssoccer.com

No player is so synonymous with the idea of a wonderkid becoming a flop as Freddy Adu. Having made his MLS debut at the age of just 14, Adu was linked with every major club in Europe, labelled the next Pele and touted as the future of American soccer. Eleven years later, he's played for 10 different clubs in eight different countries and achieved very little. Adu made his debut for the USMNT in 2006, aged 16, yet he hasn't featured for his country since 2011. Since March of this year, Adu has been playing in Finland for KuPS. Adu was monumentally over-hyped as a youngster, but the fact remains that he should have amounted to more than he has today and carver out at least a respectable career for himself. Perhaps a return to the MLS would be in his best interests, as he did briefly with Philadelphia Union in 2011.

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Top 10 Underwhelming 'Wonderkids' in Soccer History