Almost every week there is another young player dubbed the next Messi or Ronaldo. Most become an average run-of-the-mill footballer but some fall way short of the mark. Rush Football, then, take a look at three wonder kids who flopped in extraordinary fashion.
In December 2016, Lazio player Ravel Morrison was nominated for the Bidone d’Oro, an award given to the worst foreign import in Serie A. Although he did not ‘win’ the award, it was a far cry from his days as a Manchester United youngster where he was more highly rated than Paul Pogba. Thought of as one of English football’s biggest prospects, his attitude and off the field antics hampered his development. While he did show glimpses of his incredible talent (namely his goal against Tottenham for West Ham), his inability to keep himself on the straight and narrow saw his career take a turn for the worse. Since leaving Manchester United in 2012, Morrison has had spells at West Ham, Birmingham, QPR, Cardiff, Lazio and most recently Mexican side Atlas, who are currently in the midst of a relegation battle. Sir Alex Ferguson described Morrison’s decline as the “saddest case” he dealt with and it’s very hard to disagree with him. As a footballer once tipped for greatness, Ravel Morrison is slowly fading into obscurity.
At just 15 years old, John Bostock became Crystal Palace’s youngest ever player after coming on as a substitute in their 2-0 defeat to Watford. A box-to-box midfielder with outstanding dribbling ability, inch perfect passing and an eye for goal, Bostock had the world at his feet. Less than a year on from making his Palace debut, Bostock controversially left for Tottenham in a move which would initiate his slow decline. Spending 5 years at Tottenham, the England U19 international failed to make a single appearance for the first team whilst being loaned out to multiple clubs in the meantime. This spell at White Hart Lane severely stalled his development in what could be considered a footballer’s most important years. Following his time at Tottenham, Bostock went overseas to Belgian 2nd division side Royal Antwerp followed by OH Heuven, where he won the 2nd division player of the year award after scoring 13 goals and providing 19 assists. He spent last season at RC Lens, winning the Ligue 2 player of the season in his debut season as the club narrowly missed out on promotion. While it does look like his footballing career is slowly on the up, you can’t help but think what could have and should have been for the talented prodigy.
As a 17 year old, life couldn’t have got any better for Federico Macheda. The Italian had just signed his first professional contract at Manchester United and was scoring freely for the club’s reserve team. His impressive form caught the eye of Sir Alex Ferguson, who rewarded him with call up to the senior side for the game versus Aston Villa. With United 2-1 down, Macheda was introduced just after the hour mark and it wasn’t long before Ronaldo equalised, but no one could have predicted what was about to follow. Deep into stoppage time Macheda received the ball with his back to goal, pulled off a sublime turn and then curled the ball into the far corner, sending Old Trafford into raptures. This however was as good as it got. After a number of disappointing appearances, poor overall form and injuries he was shipped out on loan to a number of clubs where he continued to struggle. Following his release from United 5 years after his memorable debut, Macheda signed for Cardiff City but once again his form was nowhere near what was expected of him and he was sent out on loan yet again, this time to Nottingham Forest. In December 2016, after 4 months without a club he joined Serie B side Novara, where he continues to play to this day.
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