Where Are They Now - 17 Times Football Manager Got It Wrong
From Freddy Adu's journey as a 17-year-old in Football Manager 2006 to Cherno Samba's utter demolition of Championship Manager 01/02, everybody reading this will have signed one of the following players during their managerial career.
If you manage to get a copy for Christmas, then you'll be able to find the new 'wonderkid' on FM. The thrill of nurturing this 18-year-old player into one of the world's best is like no other. No matter how badly your team is playing, this kid is the shining light.
For your reading pleasure, we've put together a list of players who never really made the grade, but their performances in game are simply unforgettable.
Sit back, relax and let the memories flow:
Famed in reality for balancing the ball on his head while running, Kerlon was not only known for his infamous 'seal dribble' but more for his incredible quality on Football Manager 2006. He may not have been blessed with height, coming in at 5ft 5, but Kerlon was touted as the future of Brazilian football when he burst onto the scene. If you ask someone of that era who Kerlon is, they'd most likely know.
After leaving Cruzeiro for Inter Milan in 2006, it looked like the Brazilian wonderkid was going to live up to Football Manager's high expectation. Despite officially spending four years at Inter, he never made an appearance for the Italian giants, instead using loan spells at Chievo, Ajax, Parana and Nacional NS to try and gain first team opportunities.
At the age of 28, Kerlon has made just 44 appearances for 9 clubs since leaving Brazil in 2008.
- Freddy Adu
If you wanted 100 goals+ in the early versions of Football Manager, Freddy Adu was that man. I shit you not, Adu once scored 4 goals in a Champions League final back in 05 for my Carlisle United side, and after he utterly dismantled every Premier League defender for a decade, his value on the game went through the roof, but as we all know, the wonderkid's fall from grace in real life was spectacular.
After scoring four goals as a 14-year-old at the 2003 FIFA U-17 World Championship, Adu had scored 11 goals and 17 assists in MLS between 2004 and 2006. He was just 16-years-old. A trial with Manchester United in November 2006 followed for the teenager but Adu failed to reach the lofty expectations set for him.
It looked promising for Adu when he signed for Benfica in 2007 but after loan spells at Monaco, Belenenses and Çaykur Rizespor, he moved back to the MLS after scoring just two goals for the Portuguese side. He is now playing his football with North American Soccer League side Tampa Bay Rowdies.
- Sherman Cardenas
Anyone who played the 2007 version of Football Manager will definitely recognise this name. Cardenas appeared on the game as a 16-year-old wonderkid and after you picked him up for a bargain 1.5 million from Colombian side Atlético Bucaramanga, he would go onto become a world beater, scoring 20+ goals from midfield positions every single season, without fail.
We're only three players into this list but as you already tell, Football Manager doesn't always get it right and Cardenas' career didn't exactly take off from 2007 onwards. The player even suggested that his 'unrealistically' good ability in-game negatively affected his progression in reality, due to the increased pressure and expectancy placed upon his young shoulders.
For the majority of his career, the 27-year-old has remained in Colombia, playing for the likes of Millonarios, La Equidad, Junior F.C.and Atlético Nacional.
Cardenas is now on loan at Brazilian side Esporte Clube Vitória.
- Antony Vanden Borre
If you wanted a reliable, no nonsense defender on Football Manager for next to nothing, 18-year-old Anderlecht starlet Antony Vanden Borre was a steal at around £1 million. Not only could the Belgian play centre-back, but his pace and strength made him the perfect right-back. Admit it, you thought this guy was destined to become the greatest defender of all time.
Well, his career in football didn't really match up to his preposterous stats on Football Manager 2006/07. During his time at Anderlecht, Vanden Borre was rated highly, even more so than Manchester City defender Vincent Kompany and after his Football Manager heroics in 2007, Italian side Fiorentina decided to splash €4 million on the defender in June that year.
He only managed a year at Fiorentina after managing just three appearances for the club. After spells at Genoa, Portsmouth, Genk and Ukrainian Premier League side Tavriya Simferopol, the 29=year-old returned to Anderlecht in 2013 but s currently on loan at Ligue 1 side Montpellier.
- Nicolás Millán
At the age of fourteen years, nine months and three days, Nicolas '75 goal a season' Millan made history as the youngest player to feature in a Chilean professional game, so when Football Manager 2007 came around, the Colo Colo striker was the biggest wonderkid in the game.
By the time he was 21, Millan would dominate world football with his incredible finishing and composure but in real life, his career didn't exactly pan out the way Football Manager predicted.
Chelsea reportedly tried to take the starlet on trial in 2006, with Everton allegedly showing interest as well, but after he left Colo Colo back in 2012 after loan spells at Rivadavia, Tigre, and Naval, he is currently playing his football in the third level of Chilean football with Deportes Puerto Montt.
- Cherno Samba
He was destined for greatness. The world at his feet. After scoring 132 goals in 32 games as a 13-year-old kid, Cherno Samba was supposed to be the spearhead behind England's domination in the 2006 World Cup but after Millwall turned down an offer of £2 million from Liverpool in 2002, his career plateaued for years after.
Because of his goal scoring record as a youngster, Championship Manager 01/02 will be remembered for one thing. Cherno Samba legendary status. He would never miss. In-fact, he couldn't miss. Samba would score 60+ goals a season without fail. You'll hear plenty of tales involving Samba and how he single-handedly carried your side to greatness.
In July 2015, Samba retired from professional football after his release from Norwegian side FK Tonsberg. His previous clubs include Cadiz, Malaga B, Plymouth Argyle, Wrexham, Haka and Panetolikos.
- Mark Kerr
in terms of raw talent, Falkirk's Mark Kerr is one of Scotland's greatest and don't let anyone tell you different. During the glory days of Championship Manager 01/02, Kerr struck an incredible midfield partnership with Zinedine 'I just want to be like Mark Kerr' Zidane on computer screens around the world, but 15 years on from his incredible rise to prominence, he is still playing at Falkirk.
Kerr has spent most of his playing days in Scotland but a strange moment in his rather ordinary career came in 2010 when Greek Super League side Asteras Tripoli, who had clearly played too much Championship Manager when they were younger, bought the midfielder from Aberdeen. He made just two appearances before moving to Dunfermline.
Still to this day, Mark Kerr is my hero.
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- John Fleck
Despite being one of the youngest on this list at the age of 25, another one of Scotland's 'biggest talents' was hyped by Football Manager as the next big thing and in FM 08, the youngster was one of everyone's go-to signings. Fleck was cheap as chips at just under a million pound.
He was basically the perfect player to give your Football League side a one way ticket to the Premier League, until Manchester United and Liverpool came knocking with a 25 million bid. Fleck was unstoppable on the wing but he could be used a number 10 if you needed to win 12-0.
In real life, Fleck has failed to live up to his Football Manager legend. He spent five years at Rangers between 2007 and 2012 before leaving for Coventry City, where, in all fairness, he made a decent name for himself, making a total of 162 appearances before moving to current side Sheffield United.
- Bogdan Stancu
I sometimes wonder if the guys at Football Manager just give incredible stats to players with incredible names. Bogdan Stancu had an unforgettable name and his journey from Romanian minnows FC Argeș to club legend was one of my greatest memories on Football Manager 2008.
If you wanted a player who would score week in, week out for your Football League side, Stancu was your man. Cheap as anything at around £350k, the Romanian striker would treble in value after your first season.
Despite his rise to fame on the Football Manager series, Stancu never really hit the ground running after his big move to Steaua Bucharest in 2008, but he features regularly for the Romanian national side, scoring against France in the 2016 European Championships.
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- Henri Saivet
At the age of 17, French-born Saivet was the king to Thierry Henry's throne. Pace, power, skill, finishing and composure. He had it all but eight years on from his success on Football Manager 2008, the former prince of Bordeaux is lost in the vortex of players who flopped because a video game overhyped their ass.
In 2007, he signed his first professional contract with Bordeaux, making him the youngest professional player in the history of the football club. In nine years at the club, Saivet managed just 17 goals in 134 appearances but that didn't stop Newcastle United in acquiring his services in January 2015 for a reported 5 million.
Although it's hard to believe, Saivet is now 26 years-old, and after making just two starts under Rafael Benitez at St James Park, he is currently on loan at Bursaspor. If you're a Football Manager diehard like myself, I still believe there is a glimmer of hope for the once prolific poacher. 89 goals next season, mate?
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Oh look what we have here. It's another Brazilian wonderkid but this youngster's career is like no other. When a 19-year-old Kerrison joined Barcelona in 2009 for around €14 million, mutterings of the next Pele began to be heard around Catalonia, even Football Manager hedged their bets on this talented forward.
On his arrival at Barcelona, the 19-year-old said: "I hope to break into Pep Guardiola's side, and join many other famous Brazilians who have played here. I always followed Barcelona and the Brazilian players who played here. Now at 20-years old, I am very happy to be here, fulfilling my dream of playing at the best club in the world."
He now plays for Brazilian side Londrina Esporte Clube, but a Football Manager legend he remains.
- Lebohang Mokoena
With a name like Lebohang, the South African forward was always going to a hit with Football Manager players around the world, but his pace and composure in front of goal was an even bigger reason to buy one of FM's greatest bargains from the team we all knew and loved - Orlando Pirates.
He may have been injury prone, but he was pretty much guaranteed to score more goals than appearances back in Football Manager 2006 and at the price of 500k+, he was worth every single penny. Then there was his blisteing pace. Oh stop it. Mokoena broke records in the 100m, 200m and 800m events during his school days and his explosive speed on FM was the South African's standout attribute.
In real life, Mokoena spent seven years at Orlando Pirates before making the move to rivals Mamelodi Sundowns in 2009. He now plays for Ajax Cape Town.
- Arturo Lupoli
Once labelled as the next wonderkid to rise through Arsenal's academy system, Lupoli would soon disappear into lower league oblivion. He made waves in the well-respected Parma academy and was once likened to Alberto Gilardino on Football Manager 2007.
Lupoli made a superb start to his Arsenal career, scoring a brace against Manchester City in the League Cup but he soon found himself languishing in the reserves. Despite scoring 27 goals in 32 games for the Arsenal second team, Wenger never had confidence in his ability.
A loan spell at Derby County lasted a matter of months before he was shipped to Fiorentina on a free transfer. Nine years later, he plays for Italian third division side Catania after time in Hungary and England.
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After scoring an incredible 15 goals in 10 games for Brazil U17's, Lulinha was another Brazilian tipped for greatness by Football Manager, but like his good friend Kerlon, the pressure of wonderkid status proved too much for the attacking midfielder, despite his ridiculous potential on Football Manager 2008.
The fact that Corinthians' slapped a £24 million price tag on his head early on is potentially a crucial factor towards his, let's face it, underwhelming career. He spent 11 years at the Brazilian club before making a permanent move to Serie B side Ceará in 2013.
In typical, spectacular fashion, Lulinha has played for 6 clubs in the past 3 years. The 26-year-old is now playing his football in the K League with Pohang Steelers.
- Alan Kardec
Back in Football Manager 2008, Brazilian striker Alan Kardec was destined for greatness. n real life, Kardec made his Vasco debut in 2007 and his contribution of eight goals in 27 appearances at the age of 18 helped him to become one of the most talked about forwards in Brazil, at that time.
Two years later, he showed enough promise at Vasco and Internacional (loan) to earn himself a move to Portuguese giants Benfica. Despite winning the league and two cup medals, the youngster could only manage three goals in 23 appearances and struggled to gain a regular first team place in four years at the Estádio da Luz.
After loan spells at Santos and Palmeiras, the 27-year-old is now playing his football in the Chinese Super League with Chongqing Lifan F.C.
- Mika Aaritalo
It's a well known fact that Football Manager like to big up Finnish talent and former Aston Villa striker Mika Aaritalo was one of those blessed with deadly stats on Football Manager 2008. Although he wasn't officially classed as a 'wonderkid', Aaritalo was a goal machine back in 08, and the best thing was, he was an absolute steal at 500k.
Incredibly, former Premier League side Aston Villa had previously touted the Finnish international for stardom in 2003, after beating a number of top European clubs to his signature, but he never made a single appearance and moved back to TPS Turku in 2005. That didn't put the makers of Football Manager off one bit, and he still plays for the Finnish side 11 years on.
If you wanted to get from the depths of League Two to the heights of Premier League glory in three seasons, this was your guy.
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- Anthony Le Tallec
When Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier persuaded Anthony Le Tallec to the club back in 2001, Championship Manager players around the world gasped in disbelief. Liverpool had not only signed one of world football's biggest prospect but they had beaten a number of top European clubs to his signature.
Le Tallec stayed at Le Harve until 2003 to gain more experience before eventually moving to Liverpool in that summer. Unfortunately for Liverpool and Championship Manager diehards, the French winger was a constant source of disappointment , managing just one goal in 32 appearances.
The 32-year-old is now playing his football in Greece with Super League side Atromitos after spells at Sunderland, Le Mans, Auxerre and Valenciennes.
Well, that was enjoyable.
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