Remember Freddy Adu, the 14-year-old prodigy with the world at his feet?
Once touted as the future of American soccer, Adu is now a 26-year-old has-been struggling to stay relevant.
Here are some of his accolades:
- Signed his first contract at 14 – making him the youngest American athlete ever to ink a major league deal
- Scored his first MLS goal a few months later, the only 14-year-old in history to do so
- Became the youngest fully-capped player in USMNT history at age 16
Just a few years into his professional career, Adu graduated from the MLS when Portuguese club Benefica paid $2 million to acquire his rights in 2007.
It was here that he would begin criss-crossing the globe in a whirlwind that would make Jules Verne’s head spin.
He went from Portugal to France (AS Monaco) on a season-long loan.
After playing for the United States in the 2009 Gold Cup, he returned to Portugal and Benefica, where he was promptly loaned to Portuguese club Belenenses for the 2009-2010 season. Due to injury and lack of playing time, the loan was cut short.
In January 2010, he was loaned to Aris in Greece for a year.
In February of 2014, Adu started a trial with Blackpool in England.
Come June, he was training with Norwegian club Stabæk.
By July, he was on trial with Dutch side AZ Alkmaar.
On July 24th, 2014, he signed with FK Jagodina in Serbia, only to be released by December.
In March of 2015, Adu signed with Finnish side Kuopion Palloseura (KuPS). In July, he exercised an option to release himself from his contract.
A week later, he signed with the Tampa Bay Rowdies in the NASL – America’s second division behind the MLS.
Just a few months ago, in December 2015, Adu signed a deal that will keep him with the Rowdies for at least another year.
Freddy’s career has been a far cry from the fairytale it was supposed to be.
Perhaps he will be no more than a cautionary tale of what can happen when the weight of nation is placed on the shoulders of a 14-year-old.
But what if the last chapters of his story are yet to be written?
At 26, it’s not too late for Freddy Adu to come back from the dead.