Football can be a cruel game. One minute you’re one of the best in the world, the next fans wonder what club you’re at. Ten of these careers which went downhill border on the tragic.
Ten Faded Footballers
Securing a move to Barcelona with plenty of potential, the Dutch winger seemed to have the world at his feet. But just two goals in 35 appearances over four years meant Afellay was loaned out to Schalke and Olympiakos where he didn’t make any impact. He now struggles to get first team football for Stoke City.
Once a key player in an Inter team which won four Scudetti, Adriano was regarded as one of the best strikers in the world. But a weight and attitude problem won him Flop of the Year in Italy three times, and he currently has no team after being released by Atlético Paranaense.
City fans rejoiced when Robinho joined for £33 million in 2008, but he struggled after a stunning start. A loan move to Santos and further transfer to Milan couldn’t help the former Real Madrid star, and he now currently plays for Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao in the Chinese Super League.
El Hadji Diouf
After starring in the Senegal side which impressively reached the 2002 World Cup quarter-final, Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier made the grave mistake to pay £10 million for the now renowned bad boy. A failure from the start, and several years of spitting later, Diouf plays for Sabah in the Malaysian League.
Giovani dos Santos
When Giovani dos Santos moved to Tottenham following a breakthrough season at Barcelona, Spurs fans expected so much from the young Mexican. But with just three goals scored in four seasons, he was soon shipped out on loans to Ipswich Town, Galatasaray and Racing Santander. He failed to make much of an impact at any of these clubs. The baby-faced striker has now finally found his feet at LA Galaxy in MLS.
Once the next big thing in England, even three Premier League medals can’t cover up Cole’s faded career. After his time at Chelsea Cole tried and failed at Liverpool and West Ham, shipped out on loan to Lille whilst at the former, and couldn’t even get into a struggling Aston Villa midfield last season. He now plays for Coventry City in League One.
In a crucial match in the 2008-09 title race, two goals from Federico Macheda, an unknown teenager, left Manchester United fans dreaming. But bad form, injuries and loan spells have left the Italian’s career to dwindle over the years. After endless loans Macheda made a permament move to Cardiff City for whom he currently spends most of his time on the treatment table.
Dubbed ‘the next Pelé’, it’s unbelievable just how bad his career turned out. After he became the youngest player to score in MLS at 14 years old, the football world was ready for Freddie Adu. But thirteen teams in eight countries later, Adu currently plays for Tampa Bay Rowdies in the North American Soccer League.
No would could have guessed just how bad his £50 million move to Chelsea would be. It took him 903 minutes of football to finally score, and even when he did, he was never the same striker he was when he won third place in the 2008 Ballon D’or. He is currently in a peripheral role at Atlético Madrid: the club where he first made his name.
At the peak of his powers, Kaká was literally the best footballer in the world. He was instrumental in Milan’s 2007 Champions League success and beat none other than Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi to the Ballon D’or that very year. But after joining Real Madrid his career fell away, and now he plays for Orlando City in MLS.