Footballers’ lives are constantly in the limelight – every move they make is closely watched by club officials, supporters, teammates and the media…
For a footballer to vanish, then, would take some doing but we’ve tracked three down at Rush Football to find them slowly fading into obscurity:
Spanish footballer Michu joined Swansea City in the summer of 2012, arriving from La Liga side Rayo Vallecano for nominal fee of £2m. Prior to his arrival at the Liberty Stadium he had also featured over a hundred times for both Celta Vigo and his hometown club Oviedo. The unknown striker’s Premier League career got off to a flyer, scoring twice on his debut in the 5-0 thrashing of QPR at Loftus Road. This goal scoring form continued and he finished his debut season with 18 goals in 35 Premier League games and was rewarded with a call up to the national side, making his debut against Belarus in a 2014 World Cup Qualifier.
Just one month after his national team debut, his promising career took a turn for the worse. After picking up an injury, the Spaniard underwent ankle surgery three times and each time the pain and discomfort persisted. As a result of his injury, his fitness levels dropped and his goal scoring form deserted him, hitting the net just twice throughout the entire 2013/14 and 2014/15 campaigns. In November 2015 he was released by Swansea and immediately returned to his homeland, signing for amateur side UP Langreo in the fourth tier of Spanish football – who were managed by his brother. However, though his goal scoring form returned, he couldn’t escape the constant discomfort of his ankle problem. In August 2016 he resigned with his hometown club of Oviedo where he remains to this day.
In July 2008, Alexander Hleb’s career was at its pinnacle. The Belarus international had just signed a four-year contract with Barcelona where he would be playing alongside Lionel Messi, Xavi and Carles Puyol as opposed to Nicklas Bendtner, Phillipe Senderos and Manuel Almunia at Arsenal. Hleb was heading in the right direction, but not all stories have a happy ending. Following his move from Arsenal, he failed to settle in Spain and started just 5 La Liga games in his debut season, featuring occasionally in the Copa Del Rey.
From there on it was a downward spiral, following several loan spells abroad and multiple injuries, he was released by Barcelona in January 2012 and signed with Russian Premier League side Krylia Sovetov Samara until the end of the season. However, his spell in Russia didn’t last long and he returned to his homeland where he linked up with Belarus champions BATE Borisov prior to a short spell in Turkey with Torku Konyaspor and Gençlerbirliği. As of June 2017, the once Arsenal fan favourite is sadly without a club.
At just 20-years old, Royston Drenthe was regarded as one of the hottest young talents in world football. The Dutch winger had just won player of the tournament at the UEFA European Under-21 Championship 2007 and his dazzling footwork and blistering pace was causing problems for even the best defenders. Following these outstanding performances, Real Madrid paid Feyenoord £11m for his services. Unfortunately, he failed to live up to his potential. Now aged 30, he is without a club having been released by United Arab Emirates side Baniyas Club in July 2016, following spells at Reading, Sheffield Wednesday and Turkish side Kayseri Erciyesspor.
Shortly after his release from Baniyas Club, he retired from football and was quoted saying that he was “fed up with the all the stuff in the football world”. Since his retirement from football he has expressed his passion for rapping, adopting the stage name ‘Roya2face’. His debut rap song ‘Paranoia’ was released in February 2017 and much like his football career, it failed to live up to expectation:
Enjoy this article? Why not check out Seven Ex-Footballers with Normal Jobs?