It is not all smiles in the world of football. There are countless talents who seemed destined for greatness but ultimately ruined their careers because they were overly confident, prone to parties or simply lazy.
We present to you a list of players who wasted their natural ability and threw their football career away.
Andy Van der Meyde
The Dutch winger stood out at Ajax attracting interest from many top European clubs. After a mediocre spell at Inter, he ended up at Everton, where his proclivity for drugs and alcohol saw him waste his natural gift. He played 100 matches in 10 years.
The Portuguese star was at a similar level to Cristiano Ronaldo when he signed for Barcelona in 2003. He left the Camp Nou to make room for Deco and missed out on the best years of the Catalan club. After starring for Porto, he had disappointing spells at Inter and Chelsea before finding his place at Besiktas. He returned to the Portuguese national team to win the Euros in France, but he remains far from football’s elite despite his enormous skill.
As a teenager, in Romania, his numbers spoke for themselves at Arges Pitesti and Dynamo Bucharest, allowing him to join Inter. He did not do well in Milan and, after re-floating his career at Verona and Parma, he signed for Chelsea. With his career on the rise, widely regarded as a top striker, he tested positive for cocaine. Juventus and Fiorentina gave him second chances which were followed by uninspired spells at Cesena, Ajaccio, Petrolul, Pune City and Targu Mures, before he put an end to his career in 2016.
One of the biggest talents to grace the game in recent years. However, he left the feeling of not achieving his full potential. A player who should be among the best ever is now seen as a great player who lasted 4 or 5 years. Parties and an astonishing idleness transformed his figure and turned him into a second-rate footballer. While Xavi succeeded at Barcelona, the Brazilian prolonged his career at Atletico Mineiro, Queretaro and Fluminense.
Over 100 goals in about 120 games for PSV Eindhoven made him one of the most coveted footballers around. However, he lost his eye for goal after his move to Chelsea. He went on to play for Atletico Madrid and Fenerbahce, performing decently for the Turkish side. He failed to succeed at PSG before his career took a downturn which led him to the likes of Zenit, South China and BATE Borisov. He did not fulfil expectations.
The Ukrainian had a somewhat strange career. His displays in his native country caught the eye of Sir Alex Ferguson, who brought him to Old Trafford to be a star. He did well with the Red Devils but an argument with the Scottish manager saw him join Everton, where he also excelled. However, in 1997, at the age of 28, there was a marked downfall in his career. He lost his touch, joining a string of lower-league teams before falling into anonymity.
Another example of a Brazilian who could have done so much but didn’t. A stellar transfer from Flamengo to Inter was followed by failure at the Giuseppe Meazza. He flourished at Fiorentina and Parma before returning to Inter. In his second spell, he got off to a flying start but his level declined as his passion for the Milan nightlife increased. After that, there was no coming back, except for a short period when he found his best version in his native Brazil.
A star for Porto, Ferguson swooped in to seal his £19m move to Old Trafford in 2007. He began well at United, but got quieter as time went by. He gained a considerable amount of weight and was left out by Moyes and Van Gaal. He now plays in Brazil, but is far from the promising young midfield dynamo who wished to become a star.
Rafael Van der Vaart
The talented Dutch midfielder could have blossomed at Real Madrid, but he was eclipsed by his fellow countryman Wesley Sneijder. He left the Bernabeu quietly, did well at Tottenham, but his level went down before joining Bundesliga side Hamburg. In Germany, he gradually lost importance until he was finally relegated to the bench. He remains the player of enormous quality and lack of involvement who frustrated managers and fans alike.
He went from Sierra Leone to Inter Milan at the age of 16 and was backed to become one of the best African footballers of all time. He was loaned out multiple times and finally made the first team when he was 22. His light began to fade soon after and was again loaned out, this time to Monaco. He did alright in the Ligue 1 before embarking upon a journey through the French third division. Lastly, he played for Kallon FC, a club founded by himself in his native Sierra Leone.