What Happened To The Most Exciting Teenager In World Football: Sadick Adams
It's the height of summer in South Korea and the FIFA U-17 World Cup is underway. The year is 2007; Manchester United have been crowned Premier League champions for a ninth time, the new Wembley stadium is finally complete after years of delays and an unknown talent is about to be thrown into the unforgiving world of football.
It was a late kick-off, 8pm to be exact, and a confident Ghanian prodigy was handed a place in the starting line-up against tournament favourites Germany. The likes of Toni Kroos, Alexander Esswein and Sebastian Rudy would play that day, but a 5ft 8in, lightning quick forward would grab the headlines, scoring in a 3-2 defeat.
It would turn out to be a life changing 90 minutes for Sadick Adams.
His convincing performance in front of 7,513 fans was just the beginning for the teenager, who would go on to score another three goals in the competition; leading his side to an unanticipated fourth place finish.
The 17-year-old's' impact in South Korea that summer would make him one of the most sought after young players on the African continent and a result, Spanish giants Atletico Madrid would come knocking to secure his signature.
Adams would recall signing for Atletico as "the best moment" of his life in an interview with SPORTbible.
In the weeks following Ghana's success at the U-17 World Cup, he was named the most exciting teenager on the planet by World Soccer Magazine, sitting above the likes of Sergio Aguero, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema, not to mention household names like Angel Di Maria, Juan Mata and Ivan Rakitic, among others.
12 years on, the humble and modest Ghanian still sounds in disbelief at featuring as number one in the list:
"l couldn't believe I was chosen amongst the 50 most exciting teenagers in the world, which including some big names." he told us.
"To be honest, I was little bit surprised because during the World Cup, I didn't win any Man of the Match awards, or a Golden Shoe. My country came fourth in the completion; I even missed the the third place play-off match between Ghana and Germany, so when the list came out and I was number one; that made me feel so proud of myself."
Following the tournament, Adams would sign a pre-contract with Atletico Madrid, and would go on to make 22 appearances for their reserve team, scoring nine goals.
He would eventually train with the first team after impressing in Atletico B, something he could only have dreamed of as a young player in his native Tamale, the third largest city in Ghana:
"At Atletico there were lots of star players." he told us.
"Before their departure, Kun Aguero and Diego Forlan were around and I got the opportunity to play a cup match with them. I also joined in a few first team training sessions. That was the best feeling.
"I watched all these stars on TV when I was younger, so to train with them was a real 'dream come true' moment for me."
It was all going smoothly for the striker at Los Rojiblancos until an issue with his contract soon emerged, and FIFA would eventually hand the player a four month ban:
"Before going to the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in Korea 2007, I signed a pre-contract with a club in Tunisia called Etoile Sportive Du Sahel. I was told this contract was not valid because of my age." he said.
"My parents needed to give a go ahead. I never knew this when I was away during the World Cup campaign. The club took my father there to finalize everything without my knowledge, so that's where all the problems started; I signed for two clubs and was later banned."
On 21 May, 2009, FIFA judged that Sadick Adams' defection from the Sousse-based side in order to sign for Atletico Madrid unlawful.
He was suspended for four months and fined 160,000 Tunisian dinars, which is double the amount of money spent by Étoile du Sahe at the time of his signing, according to Pulse.
It was a huge blow for the striker. After a period of not playing because of his ban, he eventually moved away from Madrid after struggling to break into the first team:
"I moved away from Atletico to join FK Vojvodina because I wasn't getting first team minutes, and it was difficult to break through with all the big names." he told us.
"I also didn't want to lose my position in the national team by playing for the academy for so many years. I wanted a new challenge; to play in a top league. FK Vojvodina approached me and gave me an offer of playing time, and they also played in the UEFA Cup, so I took that challenge."
Adams would only play half a season with the Serbian side before deciding to leave:
"It didn't work out so I moved back to Etoile Sportive Du Sahel again, because they were so desperate to have me back, even after all that happened."
It all came full circle for the Ghanian. He would eventually join Étoile du Sahel, the club he signed a contract with before joining Atletico Madrid in the summer of 2007.
Adams scored seven goals in 15 games for the Tunisian first division side before trying his luck in Cyprus and Saudi Arabia in the coming years, but he would eventually return to his native country, winning trophies with Asante Kotoko before joining his former club Ashanti Gold in 2018.
Once with the world at his feet after being named the most talented teenager in world football, the 29-year-old never quite managed to make the grade but he has always maintained a level of consistently in front of goal.
After our brief chat, it's clear Sadick still has a real love for the game.