Ten years ago, Guardian writers were asked to pick the best English talents aged 18 or under.
The list throws up plenty of recognisable names, plus brilliant descriptions, while there are a number of players who disappeared into obscurity…
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 25-year-old was given a “third chance” to resurrect his career when offered a 12-month contract by the Toffees in the summer.
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.
Last year he was named in League One’s Team of the Season after helping Bolton win promotion.
A senior 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 is now with Lens in Ligue 2.
A Football Manager legend, Delfouneso is onto his fourth spell with Blackpool. The striker, now 27, is yet to reach double figures in a single season.
The former Leeds prodigy spent the summer rejecting moves to Newcastle, Stoke and West Brom to surprisingly establish himself as left-back for Pep Guardiola’s champions-elect.
Drinkwater was tipped for success with Manchester United but eventually became a title winner with Leicester City. The midfielder is now back among England’s elite with Chelsea.
“An elusive right-sided midfielder or deep-lying forward, and equally happy in the hole or drifting wide right.” Bloody hell. Henderson’s game has change somewhat.
As luck would have it, we recently spoke to the former Arsenal full-back.
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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.
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 making too many loan moves. The midfielder has found a permanent home at Brentford over the last three years.
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 and now Mansfield.
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What threatened to turn into a nomadic career as a winger has instead seen Moses establish himself as a title-winning wing-back. In 2011 he switched international allegiances to Nigeria.
“Tipped for Shearer-esque scoring feats” by The Guardian, Ranger was recently ranked Newcaslte’s worst striker of the Mike Ashley era. You’ll be unsurprised to hear he was sacked by Southend earlier this month.
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Earned plenty of plaudits at Everton and eventually a move to Manchester City, but his career has been undermined by a host of injuries. Most recently in the news as Sunderland want to cancel his £70,000-a-week contract.
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 spent the last three years grafting for Mick McCarthy at Ipswich.
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.
Dat Guy is invariably Dat Guy on the bench these days. The Guardian article likens Welbeck to Nwankwo Kanu, which is weird.
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. The 26-year-old is currently without a club after a short spell at Barnsley.
Possibly hasn’t lived up to his potential since That Night Against Barcelona, but Wilshere is finally enjoying a season without a serious injury *touches wood*.
Signed by Chelsea from Leeds United alongside Tom Taiwo – Danny Rose rejected the move – Woods has spent the last four years at Hartlepool, for whom he now plays in the National League.
— Dr Richard Parfitt (@RichieParf) September 20, 2017
These players knew how to make their mark.
This will do your head in.
Featuring plenty of Razor Ruddock.
One of the World Cup’s most infamous matches.
Dean Ashton’s career was cruelly cut short.
Fair play to the Brazil fan dressed as a sticker.
This is outstanding.
Five penalties were given, but only three scored.
His free-kicks alone were worth the entrance fee.
Juan Carlos Valeron was a true footballing artist.