It’s hard to believe that Freddy Adu is still only 24-years-old.
Nearly ten years ago, he stood as a 5′ 8″ 14-year-old with the most lucrative contract in the MLS, a $1 million endorsement deal with Nike, and great promise.
He had skills. Check!
The smile. Double check!
The national acclaim. Triple check!
Even Pele heaped praise on the precocious young player. Infinite checks! Soon enough, he was hailed as the next great soccer player, drawing comparisons to the great Pele. Americans, hungry for a star of their own, hoped to claim Adu as their own.
That early success is why many today raise the question: What ever happened to Freddy Adu? How could a childhood prodigy, who played alongside and outperformed men twice his age, go from a hero to an afterthought? Some point to the weight of the exceptions, others claim that he was just never that good. Whatever the reason may be, it is awfully surprising. The talent is still there. So, too, is the smile. The spotlight has shifted elsewhere, as Freddy’s production has dipped with each passing year.
Pele’s has changed his tune:
Since Freddy’s enrapturing debut with D.C. United in 2004, he simply hasn’t been able to make a consistent impact on the soccer field. Adu’s poor play has rendered him somewhat of a soccer nomad, playing for nine different clubs in nine years. This past August, Adu played in his first Brazilian soccer game for EC Bahia. Yet he remains a fixture on the bench and out of the spotlight that he once commanded.
[Freddy Adu’s career stats, courtesy of http://us.soccerway.com— Hover over icon to see stat category.]
|2007||Real Salt Lake||MLS||?||9||?||?||?||?||1||1||?||?|
Nevertheless, Adu is still young enough to turns things around. After all, he has yet to reach his prime.
Pele certainly believes in Adu’s chance at redemption:
Though Freddy Adu may never live up to the hype placed on him as a teenager, it would be quite the story if he were to once again generate the same buzz that he did as a youngster.