You ever heard of the name ‘Freddy Adu’ before, well if you have, then you’re either a die-hard MLS fan, or Football Manager veteran.
Responsible for unearthing multiple starlets like the MLS’ Freddy Adu in their time, Sports Interactive’s ‘Football Manager’ product has been a mainstay on many a computer for the best part of the passed two decades. For myself, the journey began all the way back in 2006 – where my all-conquering Wolverhampton Wanderers team is enjoying regular European football!
And guess who’s leading the line … that’s right … Freddy Adu! Not just that, but he’s been doing that for me (or more accurately, the older me) for between the ages of 17-30! Very loyal, is Freddy.
Due to its engrossing nature and esteemed backlog of data and analysis, much of the game’s content can be seen to be representative of the current footballing landscape for the year in which it was made. Though where it’s much easier to accurately assess well-known players that are already playing at a high level at the time, it becomes a little hazy when we talk about the game’s younger, more exciting prospects – something Freddy Adu knows all too well!
Around the time Football Manager 2006 was being programmed, Adu was setting the league ablaze over in the States. In fact, insane proclamations were being bandied around the game in support of his potential – none less so than the main man himself, Pélé who regarded a young Freddy Adu as his very own successor, and it was easier to see why than you might think!
At D.C. United, Adu broke several records. First, he became the youngest athlete ever to sign a professional contract in the United States, after he was selected by the team in the 2004 MLS SuperDraft on January 16, 2004.
Three months later, on April 3, 2004, he became the youngest player to appear in a Major League Soccer (MLS) game when he came on as a substitute in a game against the San Jose Earthquakes, and on April 17, he became the youngest scorer in MLS history, scoring a goal in a 3–2 loss to the MetroStars.
So, what went wrong in all of this? Unfavourable life choices? A poor move to a league above his pay grade? Some unfathomable natural disaster that claimed his ability like Thor’s hammer stripped him of his? No. It was something far easier … and strikingly common.
” I need to be in a stable environment right now in my career. What I mean by that is a place where I can play and not have too much pressure on me and a place I can develop.”Freddy Adu
on his later career struggles
Nowadays, stories like those of Freddy Adu are more a cautionary tale for the newcomers in the game as opposed to one of ‘what might have been’. Sure, we can sit here and wax lyrical about what ‘we would have done’ in his situation, but in reality, he was a young boy ill-equipped to deal with all of the fame and notoriety that came his way at such a young age.
From before the time of his signing with D.C. United at the age of 14, Adu was spoken of as “the next Pelé”. However, he failed to live up to the expectations and, after leaving D.C. United in 2006, he became a journeyman, playing for fifteen teams in nine countries: the United States, Portugal, Monaco, Greece, Turkey, Brazil, Serbia, Finland, and Sweden.
During which time, he hasn’t managed to score more than ten goals in a single season, and the infamy of his original ‘wonderkid’ tagline has followed him everywhere he’s been. And given the fickle state within which our game finds itself, you can bet your bottom dollar that Freddy Adu’s story won’t be the only one to feature here in this way.