What Happened To That Boi; The Cautionary Tale Of Freddy Adu

Freddy Adu
The American Pele & The Real Pele
Freddy Adu | The FM Legend #Banter
Freddy Adu | The FM Legend #Banter

Being the very vocal advocates for youth development that we are, we need to accept all the possible downsides to more and more people embracing the notion of investing in younger players and their development with the belief that this ideology will always afford the beautiful game a solid foundation for growth. With all those positives brought into consideration, it’s not a rarity for one to see many young players succumbing to the heavy expectations paced on them and the media circus that comes with being so gifted in this age of technology and the increased pressure to perform at a level that justifies the increased levels of remuneration, for so many diverse and often bizarre reasons an alarming number of these players ultimately fail to become the super talents that people predicted they would be and thus the common question in the barroom over a pint as the football plays, “what happened to that boi?”


Introduced himself as

A 14 year old, fresh faced burly wunderkind who seemed to have been chosen as the lad to lead American soccer into the modern age, growing support for the rising sport in a sports loving nation and allowing the US Men’s National Team to become a major role player in the football realm during the next decade and a half. Adu proved to be a record breaking machine of note as he was the youngest athlete to ever sign a professional contract in the United States, while also holding the honour of being the youngest player to appear in an MLS game and crowning it all off with the title of youngest goal scorer in MLS history; not a typical story for a football prodigy aged fourteen and some change in an age where we are one YouTube compilation video away from allegedly unearthing the next best talent in his mothers backyard.

From the offset, Freddy seemed like a lad making inroads towards living up to that “American Pelè” title as his early displays for D.C United showed a young lad clearly punching above his weight class and still holding his own on the scorecard; although many were quick to point out how raw Freddy was and how vital the need for more development was as the lad showed signs of early mental weaknesses that still needed tweaking. As a creative young player, the need for maturity becomes more essential as one requires a higher degree of composure and concentration to operate successfully in the heart of midfield and make full use of the space he is afforded in that hole, Freddy seemed to lack that extra refinement that comes with years spent working with competent development coaches while playing regular football at a level where the young prodigy excels more often than he competes.

It all begun to go pear-shaped after D.C United traded the burley wunderkind to Real Salt Lake in an exchange that included shot-stopper Nick Rimaldo, future draft allocations and further personnel swapping sides, Rimaldo would go onto become of for the best keepers in the MLS and a fixture in the RSL side for years to come. Adu barely had enough time to find a barber in Salt Lake City as Benfica came calling and the MLS were only happy to export their shining star off to Portugal for $ 2 million, a fee that Benfica considered economical when taking into account the potential of the Tema born forward. Less than a year into his stay in Lisbon, Adu began the first of his four loan spells away from Benfica when he joined AS Monaco in July of 2008. Further unsuccessful loan moves to Belenenses, Aris and Çaykur Rizespor followed in successive seasons for the bright smiling Adu before his career seemed to come full circle with a return to the MLS where he teamed up with his former D.C United gaffer Piotr Nowak at Philadelphia Union. That considerable level of welcomed stability lasted for two seasons before a move to Bahia in Brazil signalled to true beginning of the end for the highly touted lad who seemed to have the world at his feet less than 10 years ago…

The legend

Many will question how a talented wunderkind could go from record breaking league sensation at 14 to a player that is only a hot commodity on old versions of Football Manager at 25; countless reasons will be given to you if you asked that question in the right circles, they could cite the burden of expectations, bad career choices or the reported age argumentation for the rapid fall Freddy experienced. None of that should really matter though; the legend of Freddy Adu will be one that lives on for years to come, whenever a young talent pops up kicking a football anywhere in the United States, there will be the cautionary tale of Adu ready to show the lad that talent and potential do not always equate to a successful playing career. Freddy Adu will always be the perfect case study for talented young American footballers to learn from, much like Jimmy King or Ricky Williams in the Basketball and American Football communities, although his ending is far from written in this tale of overcoming adversity while dealing with superstardom; Adu remains one of the main reasons why youth football development in America has become more professional and the benchmark for truly talented players has been set so high. It may be too early to call Freddy Adu’s playing career unsuccessful, yet he has already gone down into folklore as the Biggest American Footballer That Never Was and Bob’s your Asante Kotoko supporting Wofa mate.

Freddy Adu


Full Name: Fredua Korateng Adu

DOB: June 2nd, 1989 (25)

PoB: Tema, Ghana

Nationality: American, Ghananian

Height: 1, 73m

Preferred Foot: Either

Total Career Record: 207 Games, 31 Goals, 17 Assists

Caps & Goals: US u/17 {15 Caps, 16 Goals}, US u/20 {33 Caps, 16 Goals}, US u/23 {11 Caps, 5 Goals} & USMNT {17 Caps, 2 Goals}

Current Club: Kuopion Palloseura (KuPS), Veikkausliiga (Finnish Premier League)

Contract Expiry: December 31st, 2015

Market Value: € 150 000


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