Revisiting The Guardian’s ’20 future England stars’ list of 2008


In 2008, The Guardian published a list of 20 ‘future England stars’ at the time aged 18 or under. Their hit rate in predicting the future was unsurprisingly mixed.

The list throws up plenty of recognisable names, some brilliant descriptions which are hard to believe now, plus several players who disappeared into obscurity.

Here, we see which of the ’20 future England stars’ lived up to the newspaper’s billing.

Jose Baxter

The Guardian noted Baxter was “better than Wayne Rooney at 14”, but his is a cautionary tale. The talented attacking midfielder dropped down to League One in 2012 and has been banned twice for failing drugs tests.

The 28-year-old was given a third chance to resurrect his career when offered a 12-month contract by Everton in 2017, and after a season of training and playing with their Under-23 side.

Spells at Oldham Athletic and Plymouth Argyle followed, and he has recently signed for Memphis 901 in the second tier of US football.

Mark Beevers

At the age of 18, Beevers was named Sheffield Wednesday’s Player of the Year and had been regularly linked with a move to a Premier League club.

He was named in League One’s Team of the Season in 2017 after helping Bolton win promotion back to the Championship but is now back in the third tier with Peterborough.

John Bostock

A senior Crystal Palace debut at the age of just 15 led to a move to Tottenham a year later. But Bostock never settled at Spurs and was loaned out five times before eventually departing permanently for Royal Antwerp.

The attacking midfielder signed for Ligue 1 outfit Toulouse in July 2018, just six months after joining Bursaspor on a two-and-a-half-year contract, and is currently struggling for game time on loan at Nottingham Forest.

Nathan Delfouneso

A Football Manager legend, Delfouneso is onto his fourth spell with Blackpool. The striker, now 29, is yet to reach double figures in a single season.

Fabian Delph

The Guardian deserve credit for this one.

Danny Drinkwater

He has played for England, to be fair. But he seems to have stopped being an actual footballer these days, most recently scuppering a second loan move in a single season by headbutting a team-mate in Aston Villa training.

Jordan Henderson

“An elusive right-sided midfielder or deep-lying forward, and equally happy in the hole or drifting wide right.” Henderson’s game has changed somewhat, but as a Champions League-winning captain, you can’t argue with this pick.

Gavin Hoyte

As luck would have it, we spoke to the former Arsenal full-back. He is currently turning out in non-league for Maidstone United.

READ: The story of Gavin Hoyte and his one Premier League appearance for Arsenal

Henri Lansbury

After looking promising at Arsenal, Lansbury earned a reputation as one of the best midfielders in the Championship at Nottingham Forest before joining Aston Villa in January 2016.

Josh McEachran

The Next Jack Wilshere rejected moves to Real Madrid and Manchester United at the age of 16 to stay at Chelsea but suffered from the familiar tale of too many loan moves.

After an injury-hit four years at Brentford he is now on the books at Birmingham City.

Jacob Mellis

Chelsea paid £1million to land Mellis from Sheffield United, meaning he cost exactly £1million per minute played in the Blues’ first team.

The midfielder has since gone on a tour of the north of England, appearing for Barnsley, Blackpool, Oldham, Bury, Mansfield and now Bolton.

READ: Where are they now? Every English youngster to debut under Abramovich

Victor Moses

Switching his international allegiance to Nigeria probably didn’t help the chances of Moses establishing himself with England. A nomadic career currently sees the 29-year-old on loan at Inter as part of the ex-Premier League contingent signed under Antonio Conte.

Nile Ranger

“Tipped for Shearer-esque scoring feats” by The Guardian, Ranger was ranked Newcastle’s worst striker of the Mike Ashley era.

You’ll be unsurprised to hear he was sacked by Southend in January 2018 and has been without a club ever since.

READ: Ranking the 24 strikers signed by Newcastle under Mike Ashley

Jack Rodwell

Rodwell earned plenty of plaudits at Everton and eventually a move to Manchester City, but his career has been undermined by a host of injuries.

It took an even worse turn in 2017-18, however, with Rodwell making only three appearances for Sunderland all season as they suffered a second successive relegation, who eventually got rid of him at the end of that campaign.

After a spell with Blackburn, Rodwell was signed by Sheffield United in January but is yet to appear in the Premier League for the Blades.

Freddie Sears

Remember when he scored the winner on his West Ham debut and everyone was dead happy? That was good.

Remember when he scored for Crystal Palace against Bristol City but the ball bounced straight back out of the goal and the ref didn’t give it? That was also quite good, to be fair.

Sears has been at Ipswich since 2015, generally not scoring many goals.

Jonjo Shelvey

Still at Charlton when this list was published, Shelvey’s move to Liverpool may not have worked out, but the midfielder has established himself as a Premier League player with Swansea and Newcastle.

Danny Welbeck

Dat Guy is invariably Dat Guy on the bench these days. The Guardian article likens Welbeck to Nwankwo Kanu, which is weird.

Aidan White

After a bright start at Leeds, a combination of injuries, Neil Warnock trying to turn the left-back into a right winger, and Brian McDermott playing him as a No.10 did for White at Elland Road.

He now finds himself struggling at the bottom of the Scottish Premiership with Hearts.

Jack Wilshere

Possibly hasn’t lived up to his potential since That Night Against Barcelona, but Wilshere finally enjoyed a season without a serious injury in 2017-18, only to then leave for West Ham and get injured quite a lot.

Michael Woods

Signed by Chelsea from Leeds United alongside Tom Taiwo – Danny Rose rejected the move – Woods joined Hartlepool in 2014 and has spent the last four seasons in non-league, currently plying his trade for Dover Athletic.

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