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Once Tipped As A World Superstar

At the age of 14, Freddy Adu was tipped to become one of the greatest footballers in history. Those days must seem a lifetime ago for the USA international, who has since played for 13 different clubs and invariably sees his name appear in the headlines only for the wrong reasons.

It has been six years since he made the last of 17 international appearances for the USA, only five of which have come since the end of 2008, testimony to the barren years that he has endured. Although he admits his struggled have been largely self-inflicted, it is hard not to have some sympathy for a man now reduced in the minds of many to being little more than a circus act.

JULY 25, 2015 – ST. PETERSBURG, FLORIDA: The Tampa Bay Rowdies match against the Fort Lauderdale Strikers at Al Lang Field on Saturday July 25, 2015. The Rowdies lost the match 3-1. Photo by Matt May/Tampa Bay Rowdies/

The latest chapter in the Ghana-born forward’s tale has played out over the last fortnight in the unlikely setting of Nowy Sacz, a modestly sized town in southern Poland, best known for its railway industry and sadly remembered due to its association with the Holocaust during World War II. Sandecja, the local football club, are riding the crest of a wave, having finished last season strongly to win Poland’s first division and move into the top flight for the first time in their history.

Seeking to benefit from this, sporting director Arkadiusza Aleksandra offered Adu a trial, sparking an embarrassing and unseemly public feud that has once again thrust the 28-year-old into the spotlight. Aleksandra appears to have forgotten to tell head coach Radoslaw Mroczkowski over his plan to offer the American the opportunity to impress. It sparked a remarkable response from the trainer against his colleague, as he branded him “too inexperienced”, while he also aimed a dig at Adu.

“It’s a joke,” Mroczkowski told Polish website “I read in the media about his trial. I asked the sporting director why he did not tell me anything [about Adu]. After all, he sent me a text message that there ‘will be a player on trial’ and that they all knew. Marketing knew, the staff at the club knew. Only the coach did not know who the trialist was.” Having spent long enough in the game to have a nose for when things are going wrong, Adu, who spent a brief spell with Tampa Bay Rowdies in the NASL during 2016, took to his heels. He also took to his phone, explaining the situation of Twitter: “Just wanted to let everyone know that I will not be signing with Sandecja. I have been in a situation like this before in Monaco and it ended badly. I haven’t had a chance to train or do anything with the team but I have to find the best solution for my career.”

Adu in a photo shoot with the greatest player ever to lace his boots, Pele.

Speaking to Goal, the player explained: “As soon as I walked out of the airport I knew something wasn’t right because I was told to take a picture with a team scarf. “I waited three hours at the stadium just to meet with the technical director who was in a meeting with the coach, and that’s when I found out that they weren’t all on the same page. I couldn’t be in a situation like that because I’ve been there before and it’s a recipe for disaster.” It was a decision based on the type of past experience that an immature Adu found himself all too readily caught up in.

“Everything that I’ve been through and everything that hurt my career, I brought it on myself because I didn’t dedicate enough time to it,” he told Goal last year. “You can say: ‘Oh, I had a lot too early,’ or say whatever you want. But at the end of the day we all need to grow up at some point, and that has just all hit me this offseason. It really did.”

Having celebrated his 28th birthday in June, Adu remains hopeful of resurrecting his career. The prospects, however, look grim.

His early celebrity now means he is regarded as something of a sideshow act in Europe, where he is regarded as a figure of fun – just one glance at Adu’s Twitter account shows rafts of users eager to mock his unrealised talent. For clubs, he is the opportunity for a brief media flurry. With a history involving 13 different clubs in eight countries and on three continents, even Adu is apparently unaware where the next stop on his globetrotting career might be.

Each failed deal moves what might once have been a legendary career deeper into the realms of farce. Source/Robin Bairner/TheSportsman

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