Jack Rodwell playing for Everton against Aston Villa in a 5th round FA Cup tie at Goodison Park, Liverpool, England. February 2009.

7 Football Manager 2012 wonderkids who faded into obscurity: Rodwell…

Over 10 years ago, Football Manager 2012 was released to the world and bore gifts of wonderkids and unknown gems. Some of those unknowns became superstars, while some of the wonderkids failed to live up to their massive potential.

Some still became solid players for top clubs, but not the world-beaters they would develop into in the game, but others completely fell off and effectively disappeared from the footballing world without anyone noticing.

From academy prospects at the world’s biggest clubs to scouted gems who were must-buys in the game to take your team to glory, we’ve picked out seven wonderkids from the game who vanished into thin air.

Emmanuel Frimpong

One of many midfielders who would be labelled the ‘next Patrick Vieira’ at Arsenal, Frimpong came through the academy alongside Jack Wilshere, but he struggled to control his fiery temper and picked up a red card on his first start for the club.

A few loans, injury problems and a fight with Samir Nasri later, Frimpong was released in 2014. He’s failed to settle anywhere since leaving the Emirates and most recently played for Errnis Arradipou in Cyprus.

“People never really understand why that [fight] happened but I don’t like the guy,” Frimpong stated about Nasri in 2018.

“The reason I don’t like him is because he’s an idiot. Plain and simple. I would never, ever have respect for him.”

Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka

READ: Arsenal’s 16 Patrick Vieira replacements and how they fared

Sergi Samper

When Samper broke through at Barcelona he was hailed as the eventual successor to Sergio Busquets.

In most people’s FM 2012 saves, he would develop into a hybrid of Busquets and Andres Iniesta, making him a must-sign midfielder.

Samper famously turned down a move to Arsenal in 2017, and he probably regrets that now.

“I did not want to listen to Wenger,” Samper told Granada’s website. “I told him clearly that I wanted to stay, I wanted to succeed at Barcelona, and what would make me happy was succeeding at Barcelona in the future.”

In reality, he is still playing with Iniesta, but in the Japanese top flight.

Eliaquim Mangala

France have had many generational talents come through at centre-back in the last few years, and Mangala was one of those mooted for a big future.

He was a brick wall at the back in FM 2012, and Manchester City paid a whopping £42million to sign him from Porto in 2014.

He was nothing short of a disaster, and 10 years after he was tipped as a future star of French football, he finds himself a free agent after being relegated from Ligue 1 with Saint Etienne.

READ: 7 Man City signings who were meant to be the business… but weren’t

Jack Rodwell

In FM 2012 Rodwell developed into a guaranteed member of the England squad as the next coming of Paul Scholes.

In the real world, Rodwell was released from Sunderland in 2018 in a move captured by Netflix cameras in Sunderland Till I Die.

“The cameras became normal,” he told The Athletic in 2021. “But it was a bad time for me.

“I was in the process of getting thrown under the bus for being in the building. Everyone inside the club will tell you I wasn’t a bad lad. I did everything that was asked of me and more whereas other players wouldn’t have.

“I just felt like they were using me. I haven’t spoken about it too much, to be honest, because it’s not something I like to waste my energy on. I know what I’m like as a person and my family and friends do.”

After further unsuccessful spells with Blackburn and Sheffield United, he now finds himself at Western Sydney Warriors.

Yet another Manchester City signing who flattered to deceive, but he is technically a Premier League champion…


A 17-year-old right back at Fluminese is what many consider to be an ideal Football Manager wonderkid, and Wallace put Cafu and Dani Alves to shame when signed and developed on FM 2012.

Chelsea signed him in 2013 and he made a grand total of zero appearances for the club.

After four loan spells, Wallace joined Figueirense in the Brazilian third division in 2019 and now plays for second-tier side Sampaio Correa,

At the age of 28, his previous FM wonderkid status is probably his career highlight.

Isaac Cuenca

A Spanish winger breaking through at La Masia is always going to attract attention, and when Cuenca came into the Barcelona first team he looked promising and even scored four goals in 30 appearances alongside Lionel Messi and Xavi under Pep Guardiola.

Cuenca most recently played for Vegalta Sendai in the Japanese top flight but has been without a club for over a year, suffering from injury problems similar to those that halted his progress in Spain.

Not quite the star inside forward on everyone’s FM saves.

Luc Castaignos

After an astonishing breakout season at Feyenoord in which he scored 15 goals in 37 games as a teenager, the Dutch striker moved to Inter Milan.

On FM 2012, he would develop into the game’s answer to Marco van Basten. In real life, though, he made just eight appearances for Inter before heading back to the Netherlands with FC Twente.

The now 28-year-old most recently played for OFI Crete in the Greek top-flight after spells in Germany, Portugal and South Korea, and it’s fair to say he failed to deliver on the hype.

More from Planet Football

11 Championship Manager legends who were useless in real life

Where are they now? Barcelona’s 15 wonderkids from FM 2012

6 Champ Man 01/02 wonderkids we can’t believe are still playing in 2022

Can you name the 30 top goalscorers in Champions League history?