Soccer - UEFA Youth League - Group B - Liverpool v Real Madrid - Langtree Park. Jerome Sinclair, Liverpool

7 former Liverpool wonderkids that left the game completely: Sinclair, Wisdom…

Liverpool’s academy has produced countless brilliant footballers, from homegrown heroes like Trent Alexander-Arnold, Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard to others who have forged their paths away from Anfield – the likes of Conor Coady, Suso and Raheem Sterling forged their paths away.

There are also tons of less high-profile footballers who have earned themselves perfectly respectable professional careers elsewhere in Europe or the lower reaches of the English football pyramid.

But there are some who garner plenty of hype as teenagers but unfortunately – for one reason or another – leave the game completely at a comparatively young age. We’ve identified seven former Liverpool starlets that hung up their boots early.

Jerome Sinclair

Having become Liverpool’s youngest-ever player after making his debut at the age of 16 years and six days back in September 2012, big things were expected of Sinclair.

But a decade after appearing off the bench in that League Cup victory away to West Brom, the winger found himself without a club and in another vocation entirely – fried chicken shop owner.

Sinclair made just two Premier League appearances for the Reds. He signed for Watford in 2016 and spent five years on the Hornets’ books but was perenially loaned out – Birmingham, Sunderland, Oxford, VVV-Venlo & CSKA Sofia – before he was released in 2021.

Marc Pelosi

A distant relative of US politician Nancy Pelosi, one-time promising midfielder Marc Pelosi spent four years developing his skills at Melwood between 2011 and 2015.

However, his progress was stunted by a horrific double fracture injury and he never really recovered to push himself into contention for a first-team debut.

After leaving Merseyside, Pelosi signed for San Jose Earthquakes. He made 12 MLS appearances but hasn’t played professionally since a short-lived loan stint with lower-league Reno 1868 back in 2017.

Jon Flanagan

Local lad Flanagan made over 50 appearances for his hometown club, including a prominent role in the memorable 2013-14 title-chasing campaign.

He left the club in 2018 to join fellow Liverpudlian Steven Gerrard at Rangers, but he struggled to nail down a regular spot. Earlier this year, at the age of 30, he announced his retirement after short-lived stints in Belgium and Denmark.

“Ultimately my long-term health has to come first,” he told Liverpool’s official website – in reference to a recurring knee injury.

“So following medical advice the right thing for me to do now is retire from the game.

“My dream as a boy was to grow up and play football for a living and today I’m so proud to say I lived that dream.

“Not only playing [for] and captaining my boyhood club Liverpool but also making an appearance for my country, those memories created will last a lifetime and I’m so grateful that I have had the experience that most others can only wish for.”

Andre Wisdom

Having not officially announced his retirement, there’s a chance that Wisdom still has a future in football – but two years after he was released by Derby County, you begin to doubt it.

The defender was handed his debut by Brendan Rodgers and made 14 Premier League appearances for the club amid a series of loans away. In 2017 he joined Derby and was part of Frank Lampard’s squad that reached the play-off final and was later relegated under Wayne Rooney.

He’s since had trials with Portsmouth, Birmingham and Sheffield United but hasn’t been picked up.

Wisdom admitted that he’s not been the same since suffering a stabbing after leaving a house party in 2020.

“It was frustrating as when I’ve come out of hospital after like three days, I had a couple of operations, it was like my body just wasn’t the same,” he told the Beautiful Game Podcast.

“I tried to get back into football and it wasn’t the same, I wasn’t getting the same output in terms of power or speed.

Yalany Baio

Guinea-Bissau-born Baio was picked up by Liverpool as a teenager from Benfica’s academy.

He never made an appearance for the club before his release in 2014, but went on to play for Dutch side Sparta Rotterdam. Further stops have been less glamorous but no less interesting – Gibraltar United, Bangor City, Llandudno and most recently Cefn Druids.

The 28-year-old midfielder is currently unattached but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him turn up in the lower reaches of the Welsh football pyramid once again.

Michael Ngoo

Liverpool picked up Ngoo as a highly-rated 16-year-old from Southend and he soon began finding the back of the net with regularity for the youth teams.

He left the club and signed for Kilmarnock in 2014 but his career changed immeasurably after suffering a serious injury following a late challenge by Virgil van Dijk.

“Before I had my first operation, the specialist said to me that if my rehab did not go to plan then I would not play professional football again. He made that clear,” Ngoo told us in 2021.

“I went through a very bad time. I’d get in my car, turn the music up and go on long and meaningless motorway journeys – and then I’d drive back home again.”

He recovered to play for Kilmarnock, Bromley, Oldham Athletic and Albanian club Tirana but hasn’t played professionally since last year.

READ: Ngoo: I had depression after Van Dijk tackle left me injured for two years

Stephen Sama

The centre-back moved from Borussia Dortmund to Liverpool at the age of 16 back in 2009.

He spent five years on the club’s books and during that time represented Germany at from Under-17 to Under-20 but never made a senior appearance for club nor country.

Sama returned to Germany in 2014 and made a handful of appearances for Stuttgart and Greuther Furth before returning to the North West of England with Accrington Stanley. However, he made just four League One appearances for the ‘Owd Reds and has been without a club since he was released in 2022.

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