I have got a curious fascination with the career of Fredua Koranteng “Freddy” Adu. The teenage football sensation had the world at his feet when he burst onto the scene in 2004.
Everybody who was anybody in the world of sport was quick to shower him in praise. “The next Pelé” moniker was slapped on the back of the precocious Ghanaian-born, American teenager who had the world at his feet.
However, as quickly as Adu’s star rose, it burned out in double-quick time.
Don’t Believe the Hype
Freddy Adu just might be the highest profile name in football to fall foul of the hype machine. His extreme highs and crushing lows serve as a lesson to all that follow – from Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford to Kylian Mbappé of PSG.
But where did it all go wrong for Adu?
Well, he certainly had the talent. At 13 (13!) he became the youngest person to play in Major League Soccer. At D.C. United you could see the raw talent – that deft touch, close control – on display.
He played with maturity of a seasoned veteran and Adu quickly had the attention of Europe’s elite clubs.
A purported $1m contract with Nike quickly followed. And soon Adu was on every billboard and ad campaign for the sports giant. The world had bought the hype – Freddy Adu was indeed the next big thing.