Championship Manager icon Freddy Adu eyes trials after being ‘bottom of the sea’
Remember Freddy Adu? What self-respecting Millennial wouldn't?
Back in the day, the American former prodigy was heralded as the next Pele, not just by the Nostradamus-like scouts employed by Championship Manager (now Football Manager), but by Pele himself!
He became the youngest professional athlete in team sport history when he signed for DC United in 2004 aged just 14 after being chosen as the number one pick in the MLS SuperDraft, but such immense expectation was always going to be hard to meet.
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By age 20 he was on loan at Turkish second tier side Caykur Rizespor, having been deemed surplus to requirements by Benfica – who had snapped him up amidst all the hype three years earlier – and by 27 he was clubless.
The Ghana-born star played just 14 matches over the next five years, spending a large chunk of that time coaching rather than playing, and hasn't kicked a ball since 2018, but now, aged 33, Adu says he's preparing for the mother of all unlikely comebacks.
"I just want to get back to playing the game that I love and miss. I miss the atmosphere, I miss the locker room, I miss training every day in the morning, being around the guys – I miss it all," he said in an interview with NJ.bet.
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"I haven’t played for a while so I would have to go in and do trials, which will need me to be super fit. I’m at the point where I’m prepared to do that and so it will be this summer, and hopefully it goes according to plan."
Adu says he wants to mentor young players and use his riches-to-rags story to demonstrate how simply being talented isn't enough.
"I’ve been from the top of the mountain to the bottom of the sea. I think I’ll also bring a lot of good mentorship to the younger players … you can have all the talent in the world, but if you don’t work hard and nurture that talent, it’s going to come back and bite you," he added.
So great was Adu's reputation as a teenager that he landed himself a trial at Manchester United in 2006. The club were keen to sign him, but couldn't obtain a work permit for him and he was sent back to the States.
A year later he got his big move to Europe with Benfica, but he lasted just a single season in the first team before being farmed out on a series of wasteful loans.
In 2011 Adu retreated back to the comfort of MLS, albeit a shadow of his confident, prodigiously-talented former self, and moves to Brazil, Serbia, Finland and Sweden followed as his career fizzled out like a wet firework.
Though there's still time for a redemption arc, of sorts, for the man once dubbed America's 'next big thing' – a tag he happily now lays at the feet of Dortmund's Gio Reyna.
"[Reyna] has the potential to be a world class player. He’s got everything, that kid is uber-talented," he added. "I think he’s in the right place playing for Dortmund over in Germany, which is the right place to develop his game.
"I would like to see him move on when he has developed his game to a place where he is a regular starter and playing 90 minutes every week, and I think that will take his game to the next level. To me, he is the next best thing."
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