Skip to content

Freddy Adu: The Original MLS & FM ‘Wonderkid’ (06/07)

One does not simply mention the phrase ‘Football Manager wonderkid’ without following up with the name: ‘Freddy Adu’. I don’t make the rules, I just enforce them.

I’ve written a few FM-related posts here on Hobby FC, and I’m surprised this has taken me so long!

Responsible for unearthing multiple starlets like the MLS’ Freddy Adu in their time, Sports Interactive’s ‘Football Manager’ product has been a mainstay on many a computer for the best part of the passed two decades. For me, the journey began all the way back in 2006 – where my all-conquering Wolverhampton Wanderers team is enjoying regular European football!

I also liked the odd save with my local club Walsall FC, but finances were in limited supply.

But regardless, Freddy Adu was one of my most prized assets! Not just that, but he’s been doing that for me (or more accurately, the older me) for between the ages of 17-30! Very loyal, is Freddy (in the virtual world, anyway!)

Around the time Football Manager 2006 was being programmed, Adu was setting the league ablaze over in the States. In fact, insane proclamations were being bandied around the game in support of his potential – none less so than the main man himself, Pélé who regarded a young Freddy Adu as his very own successor, and it was easier to see why than you might think!

Which proved to be a bit of a blessing and a curse for Freddy and some of the other lads mentioned in the great man’s long list of rising ballers from the early 2000’s.

At D.C. United, Adu broke several records.

First, he became the youngest athlete ever to sign a professional contract in the United States, after he was selected by the team in the 2004 MLS SuperDraft on January 16, 2004. My birthday, lol.

Three months later, on April 3, 2004, he became the youngest player to appear in a Major League Soccer (MLS) game when he came on as a substitute in a game against the San Jose Earthquakes, and on April 17, he became the youngest scorer in MLS history, scoring a goal in a 3–2 loss to the MetroStars. 

The stage was set for him to become a saviour for American soccer and beyond…

So, what went wrong in all of this? Unfavourable life choices? A poor move to a league above his pay grade? Some unfathomable natural disaster that claimed his ability like Thor’s hammer stripped him of his? No. It was something far easier … and strikingly common.

“I need to be in a stable environment right now in my career. What I mean by that is a place where I can play and not have too much pressure on me and a place I can develop.”

Freddy Adu on his later career struggles

Nowadays, stories like those of Freddy Adu are more a cautionary tale for the newcomers in the game as opposed to one of ‘what might have been’. Sure, we can sit here and wax lyrical about what ‘we would have done’ in his situation, but in reality, he was a young boy ill-equipped to deal with all of the fame and notoriety that came his way at such a young age.

From before the time of his signing with D.C. United at the age of 14, Adu was spoken of as “the next Pelé”. However, he failed to live up to the expectations and, after leaving D.C. United in 2006, he became a journeyman, playing for fifteen teams in nine countries: the United States, Portugal, Monaco, Greece, Turkey, Brazil, Serbia, Finland, and Sweden.

During which time, he hasn’t managed to score more than ten goals in a single season, and the infamy of his original ‘wonderkid’ tagline has followed him everywhere he’s been.

But to all who bought him on FM 06, 07 and maybe even 08, he will be fondly remembered as one of (if not the top) greatest Football Manager wonderkid of all time.

Did you ever purchase Freddy Adu for your save?