Football Manager is renowned for its database and the ability to scout youngsters from a really young age.
So much so that many real-life clubs purchase the game engine to scout out potential options for their squads. However, they don’t get everything right always.
Here are some of the players who happened to be legends in the game but their real-life careers never really took off.
1. Freddy Adu
In all fairness, Adu was touted to be a talent akin to Lionel Messi back in 2003 when he set the U17 world cup on fire by scoring 4 goals as a 14-year-old. Even the great Pele was in agreement that he could be his footballing heir.
In Football Manager, Adu was one of the most talented youngsters, especially in the 2004 and 2005 additions. His ability to contribute plenty of goals and assists from attacking midfield made him a favourite for anyone who played the game back then. However, this was probably the highest point of his career as his career stagnated. He was subject to a transfer to Benfica, but could not make it through to the main squad and after a few unsuccessful loans, he moved back to the MLS.
From being touted to be the best footballer in the world, to the fringes of MLS sides, Adu definitely had a disappointing career (by the standards that were predicted) and it's fair to say that the game definitely got this one totally wrong.
2. Sherman Cardenas
Who you may ask, but for anyone who played the 2007 version of the game, Sherman Cardenas will always be remembered as the best wonderkid from South America. Cardenas was playing for Colombian side Atletico Bucamarmanga and for anyone who signs him will go on to be one of the best-attacking midfielders in the game.
Cardenas’ career stalled completely and after having played for several clubs across Colombia, he finds himself at a club named Atletico Junior. Cardenas has even blamed the game partially for his failed career stating that he could never really handle the pressure of potential the game laid on him. It is safe to say that Football Manager whiffed this one.
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3. Anthony Vanden Borre
Having mainly played in the first divisions of Belgium and Italy, we cannot really say that Vanden Borre’s career was a total disaster but in the 2003, 2004 editions of the game, Vanden Borre was regarded as the brightest prospect to come out of Anderlecht.
He initially had a bigger ceiling than even Vincent Kompany and his versatility (RB & CB) combined with a very favourable transfer fee (lesser than £1m) made him favourite in the game. For someone who was expected to lead the charge of Belgium’s golden generation, Vanden Borre certainly did not reach the heights that his FM profile promised.
4. Henri Saivet
At the age of 17, French-born Saivet was the king to Thierry Henry's throne. Pace, power, skill, finishing and composure, he had it all but 12 years on from his success on Football Manager 2008, the former prince of Bordeaux is lost in the vortex of players who underperformed despite a video game overhyping his potential. In 2007, he signed his first professional contract with Bordeaux, making him the youngest professional player in the history of the football club.
In nine years at the club, Saivet managed just 17 goals in 134 appearances but that didn't stop Newcastle United in acquiring his services in January 2015 for a reported 5 million. After a couple of miserable seasons where he could manage just 5 league appearances Saviet’s career was down in the doldrums with loans to various clubs. Saivet definitely did not reach the status of Henry that Football Manager foresaw.
5. Cherno Samba
The last player on the list is a pretty famous one, especially in the British Isles. He was destined for greatness after scoring 132 goals in 32 games as a 13-year-old kid. Milwall had to turn down a hefty offer of £2m from Liverpool (massive for a 16-year-old at that time) and gave him the promise of training and playing first-team football for 3 years.
However, this was the highest point of his career as Samba’s career totally stagnated and he could not break into the Milwall side at all. After a flurry of failed loans and transfers, Samba eventually retired from professional football. However, the streets will never forget that in the CM 01-02 version of the game, Samba had near-perfect stats and was easily the best striker in the game.
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