Top 15 Teenage Soccer Players That Failed In The Spotlight

To make it in any profession, one must respect the rules that governs the trade, some break the rule and still go ahead to cut the grade while the unfortunate ones fail at the slightest mistake, jeopa

To make it in any profession, one must respect the rules that governs the trade, some break the rule and still go ahead to cut the grade while the unfortunate ones fail at the slightest mistake, jeopardizing their careers in the process.

Just like the case of teenagers, Once they step into the spotlight with the world now on their shoulders, every decision they take might make or mar their progress. Some decide to take shield under different authorities just to find out that there will no hiding place, because they have ‘grown’ stars and role models. Teenage stars often pick up different unhealthy habits but got along with it since nobody was paying attention. The moment they step onto the world stage, they begin to realize that the business of being in the game is not an easy one. Most times with the help of their respective coaches they curb some habits in order to forge on with their careers.

Football managers like Pep Guardiola and Arsene Wenger have tried to instil the 'school-boy' approach into their players at tender age in a bid to get the best out of them; they introduce strict and maybe bizarre rules to curb waywardness of the youngsters, since it is believed that the foundation really matters despite these strict measures, some players still have their own way of doing whatever they feel is right, which sometimes backfires. That being said, a handful still go ahead to make it as stars even with their way of life.

15 Jack Wilshere

As a promising teenage star, Jack Wilshere was already one of the revered names in English football due to his unbelievable qualities. He handled each game as if he was older than his age with precision and incredible skills. Everyone thought Arsenal had developed another Cesc Fabregas who had arrived from Barcelona as a teenager.

Wilshere's career has nose-dived majorly due to incessant injuries which could have hampered his progress as midfielder. His injury record over the years has kept him out of the Arsenal squad and spent more time in the physio room than on the pitch.

On the transfer deadline day of 2016 summer, the midfielder who was once the 'golden boy' of the Gunners was shipped out on loan to Bournemouth, still loved by Arsenal fans. Wilshere will hope to impress Wenger or forget being an Arsenal player.

14 Jack Grealish


Another talented English youngster who has failed to live up to expectations, though he has Irish roots which influenced his decisions to play for the Republic of Ireland as a teenager. He has since been capped at England U21s.

Grealish has gotten himself into various scandals and controversies even at tender age. In June 2015, he was pictured lying semi-conscious in a Tenerife street after a night out at the Canary Islands. Aston Villa released a statement concerning the incident but claimed any action taken would remain internal.

Grealish has shown the attributes of a reckless and troubled teenager which could see his career fall into shatters if he continues the same old habits. His behavior has affected his performance on the pitch for Aston Villa and he might not get a senior national team call up with the Three Lions if he does not change his antics.

13 Adnan Januzaj

In the summer of 2013, the 21-year-old broke into Manchester United first team with promising skills which drew the footballing world's attention to him.

Loved by the Old Trafford fold, the Belgian exhibited sheer brilliance and quality skills as he impressed for the Red Devils. He quickly rose into fame for his skills and also for diving which Moyes also admitted to.

But his lack of improvement in his game saw him slide down the pecking order at Old Trafford, and was resigned to the bench before he was shipped out on loan to Borussia Dortmund in the summer of 2015 but failed to impress. Currently on loan at Sunderland, manager David Moyes recently warned the Belgian has to prove himself at the Stadium of Light, pointing to the fact that Januzaj has done nothing to impress since he joined in the summer.

12 Jonny Evans

The Northern Ireland international joined Manchester United at a tender age as a standout performer with prospects of being another brilliant star.

But the tag was soon erased due to his inconsistent injuries for the Red Devils after he failed to nail a place under Sir Alex Ferguson at the Old Trafford.

Most pundits and fans complained that the defender has failed to cut it as a big-club player. Evans was handed a six match ban for spitting at Papiss Cisse during a Premier League clash. He was subsequently sold to West Bromvich Albion.

His inability to improve on his performance and up his game has not affected his progress, which has led to many pundits labelling him a ‘mediocre’ player, not fit for the big stage.

11 Dominic Adiyiah

The Ghanaian striker broke into the world stage at the U-20 World Cup held in Egypt, having impressed at a Regional tournament that earned him his first European contract with Fredrikstad.

Following his heroics at the youth tournament, Adiyiah signed for AC Milan in 2009 but failed to make the first team under head coach, Leonardo. He was shipped out on loan to Partizan, Karsiyaka and Arsenal Kyiv, ending his career at the San Siro in 2012 which also signaled his fall from grace.

Adiyiah raised hopes with his initial promising signs but leaves everyone wondering what went wrong with him.

The only foreseeable wrong move in Adiyiah's career was his non-involvement with the Milan first team which made him stray across lower clubs in Europe. He is currently with Thai club, Nakhon Ratchasima.

10 Denilson Pereira

Arsenal Football Club/Stuart MacFarlane

The Brazilian joined Arsenal as a budding talent in 2006 from Sao Paulo but never made the grade at the Emirates.

He was often criticized for his lack of quality passing ability and inability to defend despite being deployed as a deep lying midfielder which saw him fall out of favour under Arsene Wenger, coupled with the emergence of Jack Wilshere. Denilson spent seven years at Arsenal before moving to Brazil with his boyhood club, Sao Paulo. It was not a desirable welcome as he got sent off twice in his first three appearances which caused a lot of backlash from fans on social media for his behavior.

He scored his only goal for Sao Paulo against Palmeiras and has continued to be a below average player who has failed to live up to the potential seen in him by Arsene Wenger.

9 Ravel Morrison

Another teenager who shined so bright during his early years at Manchester United. His craft and guile stood out among other academy players which endeared him to United great, Alex Ferguson who gave him the opportunity to break into the first team in 2010.

However, in 2012 Morrison was sold to West Ham United. Still keen on his abilities, Fergie included a clause that ensured Manchester United got a sum of £25,000 for every game he played for the Hammers. Since then the once wonderful kid has not been able to keep his head down due to his attitude problems and has been shipped on loan on several occasions. He eventually moved to Lazio in 2015, where his behavior has again caused problems for him with reports he might move again in January transfer window.

8 Mario Balotelli

The Italian bad boy is not a new name for controversies. Super Mario, as fondly called will have gone all the way to become one of the best footballers in the game only if he steered clear from trouble.

His first public outburst was with Jose Mourinho during their days at Inter Milan before making a switch to Manchester City where also showed the stuff he is made off, triggering offensive actions among teammates and never listened to instructions in training.

He fell out of favour with Mancini after a training ground row with the Italian boss, was then sent on loan to AC Milan before making a comeback to the Premier League with Liverpool where he managed only one goal in two years.

He is currently trying to re-build his career with French Ligue 1 side, Nice and has shown he still got some quality so far this season.

7 David Bentley


Bentley was a wonder boy since his days at Arsenal academy with the attributes of a fine footballer. Bentley exhibited the qualities that made many pundits and fans become fond of him in his early days.

Having spent two seasons on loan to Norwich city and Blackburn Rovers, young Bentley decided to switch base to Rovers where he also dazzled with his brilliant performances. However, he was already a gambling addict and also confessed he had 'personal problems' which he appeared to overcome while playing for Blackburn.

He joined Tottenham Hotspur in 2008 and continued to put in strong performances but soon fell down the pecking order due to the emergence of Aaron Lennon. His form began to deteriorate and he was sent on loan on two occasions before announcing his retirement from the game at the age of 29 after being with the club for less than a year.

6 Ryo Miyaichi


The Japanese sensation was at the centre of attraction in the footballing world; having started his career at Arsenal after impressing Arsene Wenger with his raw abilities.

Upon signing for the Gunners, he was sent on loan to Feyenoord where he continued to dazzle with deadly pace and dribbling abilities and was nicknamed 'Ryodinho' by the Dutch media. He returned to Arsenal in 2011 but he was unable to nail a starting spot in the squad due to inconsistent displays and injuries.

In the winter of 2012, Miyachi was sent on loan to Bolton Wanderers until the end of the season and was subsequently to Wigan and Twente. At the end of the 2014 season, his contract was terminated ending his stay at with North London outfit.

He now plays in the second tier of the Bundesliga for FC St. Pauli.

5 Fran Merida


The Spaniard was spectacular during his days with the Gunners but soon faded due to lack of games and injuries.

Flashing back to his days in the Arsenal youth set-up, Merida shone like superstar with fine performances and was immediately tipped for success alongside Cesc Fabregas. However, fast forward to some years after, the lanky midfielder became a shadow of his old form and could barely get in games.

While some may argue that he was not given an enough chance to maximize his real potential, others claim Merida could just transform his raw talents into finished quality.

In 2010, he refused to renew his contract at Arsenal due to the lack of chances and left for Atletico Madrid but was shipped off soon after inconsistent displays. He spent some time in the Brazilian league before making a comeback to Spain. He now plays for Osasuna.

4 Freddy Adu

At a tender age of 14, Adu created an impression of being the best thing to come out of United States Football.

He quickly rose to fame with his exceptional qualities which earned him the name 'the next Pele' and signed to D.C. United in 2003 as the youngest athlete to sign a major league professional league contract and went on to shine even as a teenager but could not live up to expectations. He became a figure of unfulfilled potential who sojourned through eight different leagues.

His inability to transform his potential into a finished product proved to be his downfall. Adu also later admitted to have ruined his career due to his lack of dedication to the game.

He currently plays for Tampa Bay Rowdes with hopes of reviving his career.

3 Federico Macheda

The Italian was part of the Manchester United academy players that broke into the first team in 2009 in a time when the likes of Danny Welbeck, Gibson and Chris Eagles broke into the spot at the Old Trafford. Macheda stunned everyone at the Old Trafford with his performances despite just being a teenager.

He went on to cement a place for himself in the United team and continued to surprise many with his confidence on the ball and finishing skills which earned him a call up to the Italian national team.

However, Macheda failed to step up his game at the high stage and was bundled out of Manchester United after a set of poor performances for the Red Devils. He currently plays for second division Italian side, Novara.

2 Nicklas Bendtner

Lord Bendtner as fondly called by his folly had the opportunity to become one of the best forwards in the game but took much of pride and ego which hampered his career. The Danish star got himself into so much controversy during his early years and became a rebel in the Gunners squad despite being a quality player. Bendtner failed to keep his head down as he preferred to take pride in his potential rather than work on it to become a better football player.

Soon after his departure from the English Premier League, he got into a better form at Wolfsburg but could not continue in the same fashion and his contract was terminated before the due date.

He currently plays for Nottingham Forest in the English championships after his promising career took a tumble due to his personal problems.

1 Nile Ranger


One could say Ranger should not have chosen to become a footballer due to his off field antics. He got into trouble too many times and seemed like a disgruntled individual. From being involved in a street robbery to engaging in different acts of violence, the 25-year-old forward has spent more time in police custody than playing football.

On one occasion, he was charged with criminal damage after being caught on CCTV where he also hit a female during the incident. Despite his poor criminal record, Ranger has managed to remain in the game due to his potential and raw skills.

His managers have always tried to coach him to get the best of him but he usually ends up getting into problems off the pitch. He currently plies his trade with Southend City in the English lower division.

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Top 15 Teenage Soccer Players That Failed In The Spotlight