Freddy Adu: Too much, too young for ‘wonderkid’?

Freddy Adu: Too much, too young for ‘wonderkid’?

Thu 18 July 2013

Case studies and success stories

Yeah, yeah, we know, your boy is a bit handy at football. In fact, he's "special". He's had trials with a Premier League club, he's better than all the other kids - and the coaches think he's special, too.

But I hate to break this to you: he's not going to be "the next Pele". He's probably not even going to be the next Freddy Adu. If you don't believe me, ask Freddy Adu. You do remember Freddy Adu?

Adu was, in his own words, "the footballing wonderkid": signed up by Nike at 13,  playing Major League Soccer at 14, turning out for the United States at 16.

Now all washed up, according to some, at 23 - on the rocks at Philadelphia Union when he was supposed to be sizzling under the floodlights at Old Trafford or the Bernabeu or the Nou Camp.

Wealthy? You would hope so, given his £300,000 Major League Soccer salary. Happy? So he says, although reports coming out of Philadelphia,  alleging that he is a disruptive influence in the locker room, that he is not pulling his weight on the field, that the Union's bosses want him out, suggest otherwise.

"I'm enjoying my football again and that's all I can ask for," Adu, who arrived in the United States from his native Ghana as an eight-year-old, tells BBC World Service. "Because there was a point where I just wasn't enjoying it.

"I know the talent is there but talent is not enough. I don't want people to remember me as the 14-year-old 'wonderkid'. I want people to remember me as a great footballer and as someone who gave it their all."

Only he hasn't been giving it his all, at least not according to some. Union head coach John Hackworth called Adu "self-centred". Former US international defender Alexi Lalas said of Adu: "He is kind of like a luxury car. He is just not practical."

The amateur psychologist may conclude Adu's self-centred, luxurious displays on the field are to be expected from someone who had it all so soon.

"My family was really poor," says Adu. "My mum was working two or three jobs to take care of my brother and me. So if Nike come to you and say they want to give you a million-dollar contract and the MLS wants to make you the highest-paid player at 14, you can't say no. You just can't.

"I said yes to everything that was asked of me and ended up doing a lot of appearances, a lot of promotion, a lot of interviews and it took away from the football on the field. People saw me more as a marketing tool."

Professional academies are believed to be taking into into account a player’s personality or psychological mindset and not just be purely based on football ability at a young age. As as certain players will find it difficult to adapt to life away from home at such a young age. The best football coaching in the world cannot compensate for a poor psychological state.

Here at SL Football Academy, developing players both technically and psychologically is a big thing, we believe if the player is happy then they will play better football and progress their skills further, no matter at what level.

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