In 2004, a 14 year old Freddy Adu smashed onto the scene in the MLS, becoming the youngest player to play, and score. He started off at DC United, later moving to Real Salt Lake City – and after a handful of appearances (and a trial at Man Utd, where he could not get a work permit). he made the move to Benfica. This is where people expected him to set Europe alight – however, this was to be the start of the biggest waste of talent in history…
As usual, when a young kid goes to a European giant – he was farmed out on loan. Spells with Monaco (where a permanent option was passed up on, Belenenses, Aris Salonika and Rizespor. None wanted him, Benfica clearly didn’t rate the lad, and he was plonked back to the MLS with Philadelphia, where he rebuilt his career a little, with 7 goals in 35 games. By this point, he was out of the USA side, having played 17 games between 2006 and 2011.
A huge shock came when he moved to Brazil, with Bahia where he made just 2 appearances. He was quickly released, and went on a series of trials with Blackpool, Stabaek (former USA coach Bob Bradley is manager there) and then to AZ – and none would offer him a contract. Eventually Serbian side Jagodina took him on an 18 month contact, but after failing to make a league start in 6 months, he was released late last year.
He has played 59 minutes since the end of the 2012 MLS season – and although he is still the only player to score a hattrick in the Under 17’s championships – fame and fortune, and maybe burnout have cost this lad what looked to be a sparkling career in Europe. His attitude was questioned, although we don’t know enough about it all to make assumptions. He had a terrific record in the youth systems – but as expectations rose, the pressure must have just got a little too much.
He still seems to be living it big – pictured with women, cars and expensive jewellery. That alone could tell you all you need to know. At every team he was at the problem was his wage demand. At Salt Lake he was earning 125,000 USD per season. When he came back to Philadelphia Union he wanted extortionate money. From what has been said by many coaches – his greed could well have cost him a fruitful career.