An XI of Football Manager 2014 wonderkids that faded into obscurity
When Football Manager 2014 was released back in October 2013, plenty of bright prospects were being tipped for big futures in the game – but some of them failed to live up to these expectations.
The likes of Jan Oblak, Raphael Varane and Romelu Lukaku have gone on to fulfil their potential and enjoy careers at the very top level, but alongside those special few there are hundreds of players that became good rather than great.
We’ve identified a full XI of wonderkids (via FMScout) from a decade back that faded into obscurity.
The Brazilian goalkeeper was tipped to be AC Milan’s long-term replacement for Christian Abbiati back in 2013, but things didn’t quite materialise that way for Gabriel.
He was handed seven first-team appearances by Massimiliano Allegri back in 2013–14, but he never featured for the Italian giants again. Following a series of unremarkable loan spells, he was let go by Milan and he now finds himself back in Brazil with Coritiba.
RB: Toni Gorupec
After spending his formative years with Dinamo Zagreb, Gorupec grew a reputation for himself while playing for Lokomotiva. He quickly rose through the youth ranks of the Croatian national team, but he never made it to the senior squad.
After venturing around various European leagues throughout his career he now finds himself in Cyprus playing for Olympiakos Nicosia.
CB: Eder Alvarez Balanta
River Plate have a tremendous track record when it comes to producing youngsters and plenty of people at the time thought that Balanta was destined for the very top.
Things didn’t quite pan out that way for the versatile Colombian defender though. He has managed to win nine caps for his country, but his career at club level never quite took off like some people predicted.
Having spent the last four years as a squad player at Club Brugge, he will spend the upcoming campaign with Schalke on loan.
CB: Jores Okore
The Danish defender has spent the last few years turning out for Chinese club Changchun Yatai. He isn’t the only Aston Villa wonderkid from Football Manager 2014 to fall into obscurity either.
LB: Salva Ruiz
As Jordi Alba departed Valencia in 2012, the club pinned their hopes on Ruiz becoming their new star at left-back. However, his career never quite took off in the same manner that saw Alba become one of the best full-backs of his generation.
After a series of underwhelming loan spells in the Spanish second division, Ruiz eventually left Valencia to pursue a career elsewhere. These days he is playing in the Spanish third tier for CD Castellon.
CM: Jordan Rossiter
Local lad Rossiter was handed his Liverpool debut by Brendan Rodgers back in 2014 and the midfielder went on to make five senior appearances for the Reds.
After sensing his first-team opportunities would be limited at Anfield, he made the jump to Rangers in 2016. Unfortunately for Rossiter, his chances in Scotland were just as limited. These days you can catch him playing for League One outfit Bristol Rovers.
Happy Birthday Jordan Rossiter 🎉
You’ll always have an Anfield goal and the maddest banner of all time pic.twitter.com/ErPxqWd0Rk
— The Anfield Wrap (@TheAnfieldWrap) March 24, 2022
CM: Sergi Samper
The holding midfielder racked up over 100 appearances for Barcelona B, but he never quite cut the mustard for the first team. By the time Ernesto Valverde had arrived at Camp Nou, it was clear that Samper’s days were limited.
To many people’s surprise, he made the move to Japanese side Vissel Kobe in 2019 to link up with former Barcelona teammate Andres Iniesta. Samper and Iniesta clearly come as a double package these days as they both joined UAE side Emirates this summer.
CM: George Thorne
Derby County fans will be well aware of just how good Thorne was at his best. After rising through the ranks at West Brom, Derby splashed a reported £3.2million on the midfielder back in 2014.
An absolute Rolls Royce of a midfielder, Thorne breezed things at Championship level before some heavy injuries got the better of him. In the short space of two years, Thorne suffered an ACL injury and also broke his leg.
“It was tough mentally, I found it hard to accept the state of my body in the sense that I played at Championship level for most of my career,” Thorne told Mirror Football in 2022.
“I saw the game in a certain way, but after the injuries I had, particularly the leg break where I was out for so long, my body just wasn’t in sync with my mind anymore. I could see the game and I could see pictures but my legs just couldn’t react as fast as my body could.”
The former England youth international took a break from football in 2020, before returning to the game in 2022 with non-league side Bedford Town.
RW: Zakaria Bakkali
PSV fans thought that they had a superstar on their hands back in 2014 when Bakkali was rapidly rising through their ranks. The tricky Belgian winger seemingly had it all as a teenager, but it wasn’t long until things turned sour.
Bakkali ruffled plenty of features upon his dramatic exit from PSV and he never quite managed to recapture that spark he had as a youngster in his later career.
After a couple of unremarkable spells with Valencia and Anderlecht, the 27-year-old now turns out for RKC Waalwijk in the Eredivisie.
ST: Angelo Henriquez
The striker was so highly rated as an 18-year-old that Manchester United signed him from his boyhood club Universidad de Chile. But the hottest thing out of South America he was not.
Henriquez never made a senior appearance for the Red Devils and was sent out on three successive loans. He caught fire in the last of those, scoring 30 goals in 37 appearances for Dinamo Zagreb, and subsequently moved to the Croatian club on a permanent deal.
Since then he’s played in Mexico (Atlas), back in Chile (Universidad de Chile), Brazil (Fortaleza) and Poland (Miedz Legnica) before his current club in Russia (Baltika Kaliningrad). That’s a very well-stamped passport.
— Sarthak Dev (@devellix) September 5, 2012
LW: Yassine Benzia
Lyon academy graduate Benzia represented France from Under-16 to Under-21 but he never received a senior cap for Les Bleus and made the switch to Algeria in 2016, going on to make four appearances for the Fennec Foxes, scoring once.
Between the odd loan away, Benzia spent a decade turning out semi-regularly in Ligue 1 for Lyon, Lille and Dijon but he never quite became the world-beater some hoped he be. Nowadays he’s turning out for the perennial Azerbaijani champions Qarabag.