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Almost every year there seems to be a new kid on the block that’s touted as the next big thing in English football but for every Wayne Rooney, there are ten youngsters who fail to fulfil their potential.
Here, we look at 10 of the biggest names that failed to live up to the hype.
10. Theo Walcott
Okay, so Theo Walcott has had a reasonable career.
He’s spent the vast majority of his time plying his trade in the Premier League, has won a few medals and racked up more than a handful of England caps but, let’s be honest, he hasn’t got near the level expected.
He burst onto the scene in 2006 when Sven Goran Eriksson named him in his World Cup squad with just a few senior games – all of which were at Championship level – under his belt.
And then Arsene Wenger took him to Arsenal for £5m where fans hoped he’d be the next Thierry Henry converting from winger to prolific forward but a regular starting berth was not forthcoming and prolific fraud is perhaps a more befitting title.
9. Ravel Morrison
If you listen to anyone that has trained with Ravel Morrison talk then it’s clear the lad has talent in abundance.
The trouble is, his attitude is shot to pieces with numerous stories recounted about him simply not turning up for training and team meetings.
The midfielder has had more clubs than we’ve had hot dinners yet still managers seem to think they’ll be the one to unlock the potential that has been buried all these years.
8. Jack Rodwell
Jack Rodwell came through the ranks at Everton and made history by becoming the youngest ever Toffee to play in a European competition before establishing himself as a key part of their midfield.
A combination of physical presence, decent passing range and an eye for goal caught everyone’s attention and a move to Manchester City materialised with Rodwell billed as the next all action midfielder.
Unfortunately, he only featured fleetingly for City and since moving on he’s never found somewhere to call home with a large pay packet seemingly never being repaid through performances on the pitch.
7. Josh McEachran
When McEachran made his breakthrough at Chelsea everyone thought the Blues had the real deal on their hands and Carlo Ancelotti included him fairly regularly in the 2010/11 season.
Some of the best coaches in the game tipped McEachran for the very top likening his ability to that of some of the best playmakers of the generation such as Luka Modric.
But it’s not quite how it worked out with a number of loan spells to lesser leagues following and it now seems the early days will prove the highlight of his career.
6. Cherno Samba
When you average four goals a game it is bound to raise a few eyebrows regardless of the level.
That’s exactly the case for Cherno Samba who bagged 132 goals in 32 matches for his high school team before being snapped up by Millwall.
His goal scoring record and blistering pace had English giants Liverpool and Man United sniffing around but when a move to Anfield fell through Samba spiralled into depression never to recover with his legacy now confined to Championship Manager.
5. Micah Richards
Micah Richards looked set to be the backbone of both England’s and Man City’s defence for a long time when he first came through.
He had it all – pace, power, the ability to play and a versatility that allowed him to play at both centre back and full back.
Richards ended his career with a Premier League title to his name but injuries blighted his time in the game and ultimately stole what could have been many more honours.
4. Michael Johnson
Johnson is another name that broke into the Man City team with potential to make himself a permanent fixture in the side with Didi Hamann likening him to German great Michael Ballack.
Johnson was tipped for the England senior squad after a handful of caps at youth level but whilst he was deemed to have a great brain on the pitch a combination of injuries and off field incidents saw him released at the age 24.
He hasn’t featured in professional football since.
3. Nile Ranger
Ranger seemed to have grabbed his second opportunity with both hands when Newcastle United brought him in following a release from the Southampton youth system after his involvement in an armed robbery.
The powerful centre forward looked set to repay the faith shown to him by the Magpies when a decent scoring record in the under 18s and reserves converted into promising displays in their Championship promotion campaign and beyond.
But then came the disciplinary issues and further brushes with the law that have seen him drop down the pyramid – without being prolific – and he now finds himself without a club.
2. Francis Jeffers
Francis Jeffers came through the academy at Everton and was dubbed as a true ‘fox in the box’ forward as he showed early promise as a teenager both with the Toffees and the England under 21s.
From an early age, two things were evident about Jeffers.
He knew where the goal was and he would miss a fair few games through injury.
Arsenal weren’t to be put off though and shelled out £8m for his signature.
Whilst with Arsenal Jeffers netted eight in 39 and won his only England cap – a match in which he scored – during his time in North London.
Jeffers was unquestionably heading for the top but a string of injuries prevented him getting regular minutes and after leaving Arsenal he never found anywhere to settle.
1. Jack Wilshere
When Wilshere emerged from the Arsenal academy it seemed England had found their answer to Andres Iniesta and he won the PFA Young Player of the Year award in his breakthrough season.
The diminutive midfielder showed all the required skills to be a world class player with tenacity, sharp passing, the ability to beat a man and an eye for goal but then the breakdown began.
After the best part of a decade with the Gunners first team, Wilshere opted for a loan move to Bournemouth to resurrect his stuttering, injury-prone career and he proved his fitness to a certain extent playing in 29 matches throughout the campaign.
A permanent move to West Ham followed but injuries have again blighted his progress and the idea of England’s Iniesta seems a very distant dream.
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