Where are they now? Man City’s 17 wonderkids from Football Manager 2014
When Football Manager 2014 was released back in October 2014, Manchester City were on their way to the second league title of the Premier League era.
They didn’t know it at the time, but 2013-14 would turn out to be a classic season, with reigning champions Manchester United falling away completely following the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson and Liverpool emerging as surprise challengers.
The likes of Vincent Kompany, David Silva, Sergio Aguero and particularly Yaya Toure were at their very best that year under Manuel Pellegrini. There were also a number of much-hyped youngsters emerging after serious investment in the academy set-up.
Man City had no fewer than 17 wonderkids on that edition of Football Manager (via FMScout). A decade on, we’ve revisited where they ended up.
Son of former Norwich ‘keeper Bryan Gunn, Angus developed his skills at the Canaries youth set-up before making the switch to City as a 15-year-old.
He was once talked up as Joe Hart’s potential long-term successor and rose up through the ranks of England’s youth teams, but he never made a first-team appearance for City.
After a season-long loan to Norwich, Gunn was sold to Southampton in 2018. He rejoined Norwich three years later and is now a regular between the sticks for Scotland. Like father, like son.
— Canary Cast (@CastCanary) August 6, 2023
Signed as a promising 19-year-old from Fiorentina back in 2012, Nastasic had his moments at the Etihad but never really nailed down a first-team spot and only played a fringe role in that 2013-14 title victory.
The Serbian subsequently spent seven years at Schalke, a brief stint back at Fiorentina, and is now turning out for La Liga club Mallorca.
Dutch defender Rekik joined City’s set-up in 2011 and made a small handful of appearances under Roberto Mancini amid loans away to Portsmouth, Blackburn and PSV.
He went on to earn four caps for the Netherlands and notched over 100 matches across Europe’s major leagues with Marseille, Hertha Berlin and Sevilla. Earlier this year he joined Abu Dhabi club Al-Jazira.
Another youngster signed from overseas to bolster City’s youth ranks, Spanish left-back Angelino was frequently loaned out and eventually sold to PSV before the club exercised their buy-back option in 2019.
He made 12 appearances on his second stint with City but never made it past the fringes. Eventually he was sold to RB Leipzig after impressing out on loan there.
“Pep has killed me and my self-confidence,” Angelino told reporters back in 2021.
“After my move from Eindhoven back to City, he had already judged me on two pre-season games and then didn’t give me a real chance again.
“So I was happy that I moved to Leipzig and that I am now an integral part of the club.”
He’s now on loan at Galatasaray.
Manchester-born full-back Smith-Brown regularly appeared in the youth ranks for his boyhood club and also represented England from Under-16 to Under-20 level.
Unfortunately, he never broke through at City and his professional career never really took off. The 27-year-old has been without a club since leaving Stalybridge Celtic in 2022.
The Slovakian winger never got his opportunity at The Etihad but he’s had a respectable enough career since he left in 2014, winning a Dutch Cup and scoring a brace in the final for Groningen in his debut season there and going on to win the CONCACAF Champions League with his current side Seattle Sounders.
Listed under his full name Jorge Intima back then but better known as Jorginho these days, the winger made zero appearances for City’s first team after arriving as a youth. Sensing a theme here…
Jorginho has earned 25 caps for Guinea-Bissau alongside a well-travelled club career that’s included stints in Portugal, France, Bulgaria, Poland and Egypt.
He’s currently turning out for Kazakh outfit Ordabasy. Why not?
Brooks was born in Warrington and joined City’s academy at the age of seven but he later moved to Sheffield United when he was 17.
It didn’t take the midfielder long to appear to break through for Blades and soon enough established himself as one of the most talented youngsters in the Football League.
Bournemouth signed Brooks for £11million in 2018 but his career suffered a major bump in the road when he was diagnosed with Stage 2 Hodgkin lymphoma. His treatment proved successful and last year he announced he was cancer-free.
Recent weeks have seen the 26-year-old score his first goals for Bournemouth and Wales since returning.
— UEFA EURO 2024 (@EURO2024) September 13, 2023
Listed as Marcos Lopes on FM2014, the Portuguese attacking midfielder was another part of that small army of youngsters that City recruited in the early 2010s.
Signed from Benfica originally, Lopes scored on his professional debut – off the bench in a 3-0 FA Cup victory over Watford in January 2013. But only four cup appearances followed before he left in search of first-team opportunities elsewhere.
An eclectic career has seen Lopes finish runner-up in four French cups with Lille and Monaco, win a Europa League with Sevilla and the Greek Super League with Olympiacos. Nowadays he’s back in Portugal with Braga.
Following in the footsteps of Paul Pogba, Riyad Mahrez and Dimitri Payet out of Le Havre’s famous academy, Ntcham continued his early development in City’s youth teams between 2015 and 2017.
The attacking midfielder never made a professional first-team appearance for City and went on to play for Celtic, Marseille and Swansea. These days he’s turning out for Samsunspor.
We’ve written enough of these former wonderkid pieces now to almost guarantee one of them will be turning out for a Turkish Super Lig club.
A local lad from Bury, Nuttall spent a couple of years in City’s youth set-up but left in 2015 for Aberdeen.
A proper lower-league centre-forward, the 26-year-old is currently leading the line for National League club Oldham Athletic after previous stints with Blackburn, Blackpool, Northampton and Scunthorpe.
Guadeloupe international Ambrose joined City’s academy from Auxerre in 2013 but never progressed to make his debut amid a series of loans away. Rinse and repeat.
The forward is currently turning out for Belgian club Kortrijk.
A graduate of the Ghanain Right to Dream academy that nurtured talents like Mohammed Kudus and Kamaldeen Sulemana, Donyoh spent four years on City’s books before moving to Nordsajaelland, the Danish club famous for leaning heavily on youth.
The striker scored 28 goals in 82 games for Nordsajaelland and has since played in Germany, Israel and Azerbaijan. He’s currently leading the line for Cypriot side Apollon Limassol.
Son of Manchester United legend Andy Cole, Devante could have followed in his old man’s footsteps to train at Carrington but chose City instead. He’s since revealed that he regrets that decision.
“I had a choice, them or United. I picked City because I enjoyed it more and it was the best place for youngsters,” he told the Daily Mail.
“They’d brought through players like Micah Richards and Shaun Wright-Phillips.
‘Then they got their money and everything changed straight away. They started buying foreign boys for the academy and all the English lads got pushed to one side. As you got older, you realised you wouldn’t get a chance of progressing no matter what you did.”
Cole never played for City’s first team and left for Bradford City in 2015. The vast majority of his career has been spent in the third tier, and he’s started the 2023-24 campaign in the form of his life for Barnsley. The striker is League One’s top scorer with eight goals in eight games, having kicked off the campaign with a hat-trick in a 7-0 mauling of Port Vale.
— Sky Bet League One (@SkyBetLeagueOne) August 6, 2023
Having come up through Didsbury’s Fletcher Moss Rangers, the amateur junior club that developed the likes of Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard, Hiwula went to the blue half of Manchester and was prolific for their Under-21’s side with 20 goals in 31 games in 2012-13.
But the forward never progressed to the first team and was sold to Huddersfield in 2015, kicking off a nomadic seven years at clubs across the Football League, the high point being the twelve-goal season he enjoyed with Coventry City in 2018-19.
Hiwula is currently unattached after being released by Ross County earlier this month.
Jose Angel Pozo
Now here’s a regen name if we ever saw one.
But Pozo actually exists and is doing alright for himself. He was a key member of Andoni Iraola’s promotion-winning Rayo Vallecano side and has notched over 100 appearances for the Madrid-based outfit, though he’s largely been on the periphery since their return to La Liga.
The attacking midfielder actually made three Premier League appearances, including one start, for City in the unmemorable 2014-15 campaign. But he left for Almeria in 2015 in search of more regular game time.
Born and raised in London, Boadu represented both Tottenham and Arsenal as a youth before making the switch to Manchester City in 2013.
Four years later he left for Borussia Dortmund alongside Jadon Sancho, but only ever played for the Bundesliga club’s B Team. The former England youth international hasn’t played professionally since 2020, when he was released by Crawley Town.