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On this day 16 years ago, Freddy Adu, once dubbed 'the next Pele', signed his first professional contract in football when he joined D.C United following on from being the No.1 overall pick in the MLS superdraft.
At the age of 14, he made his bow in professional football in 2004 and scored his first goal against The MetroStars. Understandably there was so much hype around Adu given how young he was and the waves he was making in professional football.
Being nominated for the coveted FIFpro Young Player Of The Year in 2005 proved that he was recognised as one of the most promising youngsters in world football and a trial with Manchester United a year later added to the buzz surrounding him as expected.
Him being an absolute don on Championship Manager and Football Manager back in the day probably earned him rave reviews, as well.
Adu left D.C after two years but remained in the MLS with Real Salt Lake, where his stint incredibly short as he didn't even last a full season with the club.
"Now things will become more difficult. Coaches will look at you. The crowd will ask for more. You'll get a good contract and do commercials, and the people will start to press."-Pele on Freddy Adu, 2004
On this day 16 years ago, Adu signed his first professional contract. pic.twitter.com/g5GNzEDedg
- B/R Football (@brfootball) November 18, 2019
Benfica came calling and after a deal was agreed, Adu's European football adventure began.
But the Ghanaian-American was never considered a regular in Portugal - evidenced in the fact that he was sent on loan five times (loan spells at AS Monaco, Belenenses, Aris and Çaykur Rizespor to be exact) - with the first loan spell seeing Monaco reject the opportunity to snap him up permanently.
A return to the United States with Philadelphia Union offered him the opportunity to get back on track but it just didn't happen. When he was involved in a swap deal to Bahia, which saw former Manchester United flop Kleberson head the other way, it was probably an indication that his career was a far cry from what it promised to be back in his youth.
A further three moves did absolutely nothing for him and now at 30, he finds himself without a club - his last employers being Las Vegas Lights, who released him after he made 14 appearances for them.
Having been the youngest player to have been capped for United States and the youngest goalscorer in MLS history, his career has had the ultimate downwards spiral and he is arguably the most famous example of a player who had so much hype surrounding him but was not able to fulfil his potential.
14 teams, eight countries, one career that didn't go in the direction it was supposed to.
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