Coral pick 10 Football Manager wonderkids that failed to make grade


Parents, partners and work bosses beware; Football Manager addicts will be treated to the 2016/17 edition of the world-wide popular game as today’s the day, Friday, November 4th, that it comes out.

So, in light of its release, Coral writers roll back the years and go through some of the wonderkids and cult players who never went on to fulfil their apparent potential.

We look back at the many Football Manager editions, including its predecessor Championship Manager and, while the game has usually got it right and is highly esteemed as even Sky Sports and football coaches use stats from it, they do get it wrong from time to time…

Freddy Adu

We start off with perhaps one of the most famous flops in the football world – former DC United American teenage sensation Adu, who was just 14 at the time when all the hype surrounded him.

It is remarkable to think that the left-footed attacker is still just 27 years old. However, he is now back playing in the second tier of his home country’s US Soccer Leagues with Tampa Bay Rowdies, after clubs such as Benfica and Monaco were clearly 03/04 Champ Man fans and tested him out before later discarding him.

Khouma Babacar

A 17-year-old wonderkid on Football Manager 2011 and a must-buy for any player looking to build their team, Senegalese striker Babacar is now 23 and still on the books of Serie A side Fiorentina.

He has arguably failed to live up to the hype, having yet to even earn a senior cap for his nation.

John Fleck

Scotland fans will be the first to admit they haven’t really boasted a world class star in a number of years. Back in 2007, though, Tartan Army supporters would have no doubt been excited by then-young Rangers starlet Fleck breaking into the Gers first team and being touted as a future world class star on the 2008/09 FM edition.

However, now aged 25, the still-uncapped diminutive left-sided midfielder is plying his trade down in League One with Sheffield United.

Stefano Okaka Chuka

Another favourite from an Italian club for Football Manager gamers a few years back due to his early potential and interesting surname, although it seems he has now dropped the Chuka part.

The former Roma teenage talent bust onto the scene roughly a decade ago, but failed to really live up to expectations and is now on Watford’s books. Okaka did, however, gain four Italy caps – scoring once.

To Madeira

Going way back to CM 01/02, apparent Portuguese striking wonder To Madeira was the one name everyone had to buy, due to his literal astonishing all-round ability.

It is not surprising, though, that he didn’t make it in real life, due to the fact that he wasn’t actually a real footballer, and was made up by the Champ Man scouts.

Lionel Morgan

What is it with left-footed magician prodigies that failed to make the grade? It’s almost as if the footballing gods allowed just one to succeed per generation, and namesake Lionel Messi was the chosen one.

Whatever the reason, Morgan was the original Lionel, and was wowing Wimbledon supporters while the now-Argentine superstar was coming through Barcelona’s youth ranks.

Again in the legendary CM 03/04 edition, Morgan became a superstar throughout the seasons, and certainly free of the injuries that prevented him from joining Tottenham and eventually forced him to stop playing in his early 20s (he’s still only 33). How he could have helped England’s left midfield problem at the time…

Tonton Zola Moukoko

Those that played the game in its early years and even those who didn’t, will have no doubt heard of this former Derby County youth product.

Despite becoming perhaps one of the greatest ever Championship Manager midfielders, the game’s scouts were perhaps confused with another man with Zola in his name, who was in his prime for Chelsea during that time. Remarkably, Moukoko is still playing and only 32, but for Swedish fourth-tier team IFK Lidingo FK.

Cherno Samba

With apparently 132 goals in 32 youth games when aged 13 in England, the Premier League’s top teams all tried to get their hands on Gambian-born Samba, though it was Millwall who won the race.

That didn’t stop interest in him, with the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool circling him and CM 01/02 giving him promising stats, but in the end he was eventually sold to Cadiz and from there went down hill before he retired aged 29.

Anthony Vanden Borre

With 28 Belgium caps to his name, it is arguable that right-sided player Vanden Borre has made it in the game; however, he certainly did not live up to the ability that CM branded him with back in 2003 when he was 15.

Now aged 29, he is currently on loan at Montpellier from his home team Anderlecht after ill-fated spells at the likes of Fiorentina, Genoa and Portsmouth.

Taribo West

Okay, so he wasn’t really a kid when available as perhaps the greatest ever CM free transfer, after leaving AC Milan – although no one actually really knew his age – but the Nigerian was a must-have on the game.

In the real world, it was in fact Derby who snapped him up in 2000. That was about as good as it got for him for the rest of his career, after playing for the likes of hilariously-named Julius Berger, Paykan and Plymouth Argyle thereafter.

Other Football Manager wonderkid flops

Julius Aghahowa
Moses Ashikodi
Ibrahima Bakayoko
Kennedy Bakircioglu
Mark Kerr
Tommy Svindal Larsen
Maxim Tsigalko


Take a look at our football section and other trivia pieces.

Do you remember any of the above infamous Football Manager wonderkid flops? Let us know in the comments section underneath!

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