FIFA. For younger generations, these four letters mean the most successful computer game of its generation rather than world football’s governing body.
When the game announces its player ratings, people listen. While the game has correctly predicted the rise of many famous players, some fail to live up to expectations.
After the Twitter page Football Talent Scout identified the 17 teenagers with the highest potential in FIFA 09, we’ve decided to look at how these players have fared since.
Once Everton’s youngest player, Baxter’s career since leaving Goodison Park pretty much defines the term ‘journeyman’.
After rejecting a new contract in 2012, the forward carved out a successful career at Oldham and Sheffield United.
In May 2015, Baxter failed a routine drugs test and was suspended by United. He was later found guilty of taking ecstasy and handed a five-month suspension. Everton later re-signed Baxter for a brief spell, but he only ever played for the club’s U23 team.
Now 28, Baxter currently plays for Memphis 901 in America.
Pato was linked with a move to the Premier League so often, it seems incredible that he didn’t spend three or four years at Tottenham or Everton.
In fact, the Brazil striker did spend one half-season at Chelsea in 2016 – his two appearances and one goal will probably not ensure Pato’s place as a Stamford Bridge legend.
Away from England, he played for Milan, Corinthians, Sao Paulo, Villarreal and Tianjin Tianhai.
Not as disappointing as some of the others on this list, but you can’t help thinking that it was never in Bojan’s career plan to play for Mark Hughes’ Stoke City.
Now turning out for Montreal Impact, it’s better to remember Bojan in happier times.
A footballer often mistaken with Kerlon, football’s most famous ‘seal dribbler’, Kerrison has the unwelcome distinction of being one of Barcelona’s worst ever signings.
Playing a grand total of zero league games for the club, the Brazilian spent time at Benfica and Fiorentina before returning to his homeland. His career since has been more backpacking around Brazil than anything resembling fulfiled potential.
A definite miss by FIFA.
Passed between Juventus and Bayern Munich like the TV remote in the family living room, Costa has carved a niche as an effective winger for the elite clubs.
Which sounds like a pretty successful career to us.
He’ll always have that game against Barcelona.
One of the more hilarious sights of recent years was Coutinho scoring Bayern Munich’s final two goals in the 8-2 win over Barcelona, despite being a Barca player at the time.
This would suggest a career that has tailed off in recent years. In 2017, Coutinho was lighting up the Premier League with Liverpool and vying with Neymar to be Brazil’s main man.
It was no surprise when Barcelona paid €160 million for him in January 2018, but since Liverpool bought van Dijk and Alisson with the money it’s hard to claim Coutinho is missed at Anfield.
Between his spells at Bayern Munich and Real Madrid, Kroos has won five league titles, four domestic cups and four Champions Leagues. Not to mention his integral role in Germany’s 2014 World Cup triumph.
Jury’s still out then.
Part of Brazil’s 2008 Olympic team, Breno had the world at his feet having moved to Bayern Munich the year before.
His life peaked here. Three years later, Breno was arrested by Munich police on suspicion of aggravated arson in regards to the almost total destruction of his villa in a suspicious fire.
On 11 April 2012, German prosecutors charged Breno over arson in connection with the fire that burned down his rented villa. Three months after, Breno was handed a jail sentence of three years and nine months.
It was announced that the centre back would be deported to Brazil upon his release from prison, which occurred in August 2013. Signing with Sao Paulo, Breno now plays for Vasco de Gama.
FIFA got this wrong, but his life would make a fascinating movie. Netflix, get to it.
One of Manchester United’s more baffling post-Fergie sales.
Another Brazilian – maybe the EA Sports designer had a life-changing experience on Copacobana beach or something.
This was probably another misjudgement by FIFA. Yes, Lulinha scored 15 goals in 10 matches for Brazil’s U17s around this time, making his inclusion understandable.
What wasn’t predicted was the attacking midfielder’s meandering career across Brazil before spells in South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Cyprus and Japan.
Damour’s debut in English football was as Lee Tomlin’s replacement for Cardiff City during a match against Burton Albion in 2017.
Having played in locations such as Strasbourg, Boulogne and Brussels, which read more like an underwhelming school trip than an elite footballer’s career, it’s safe to say Damour failed to live up to FIFA’s expectations.
In fairness, Damour now plays in Scottish Premiership with Hearts so the midfielder clearly has something about him.
A list of EURO 2012’s top goalscorers reads like the cream of European football’s crop during the era; Mario Mandzukic, Mario Gomez, Mario Balotelli, Fernando Torres and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Sharing the golden boot was Russia’s Dzagoev. An incredibly adept attacking midfielder, Dzagoev was his national team’s star man and was instrumental during their 4-1 thrashing of the Czech Republic during the tournament.
A move to one of Europe’s elite clubs seemed inevitable, but injuries stalled the Russian’s rise. Still, Dzagoev remains at CSKA Moscow and played during his country’s home World Cup in 2018. Tellingly, he was injured in the opening game.
A great player on his day.
Alan Dzagoev scored his 55th #RPL goal in match vs Rotor 🔥
— Russian Premier Liga (@premierliga_en) November 12, 2020
Treading a path familiar to Brazilian footballers, Dentinho moved to Shakhtar Donetsk in 2011 where he joined the likes of Willian and Douglas Costa.
He remains in Ukraine to this day although, like so many others on his list, injuries have stalled his progress.
Fiorillo was a regular member of the national youth teams until his 20th birthday, after which he failed to play for a professional team regularly.
There was an odd spell at Juventus, where the goalkeeper was signed for the sole purpose of 50% of the contractual rights to another player. This would appear to be the footballing equivalent of a girl talking to you because she fancies your mate.
To this day, Fiorillo plays for Serie B side Pescara.
Mexican footballers do not tend to travel well, generally mirroring the national team’s reputation for skilful yet ineffective World Cup performances.
Vela is the exception that proves the rule. Fresh from his spell at Arsenal, where he seemed to exist for the sole purpose of humiliating Championship sides in the League Cup, the forward spent a successful six years at Real Sociedad before his current spell as captain MLS side Los Angeles.
Vela also represented his country at two World Cups. In many ways, he is the most Mexican footballer ever; talented, exciting, but never quite elite.
Arguably the worst prediction on this list- maybe the game creators were seduced by Collins’ excellent name.
The Nigerian striker was last seen playing for Kazakhstani side FC Ordabasy during the 2012-13 season, since when his whereabouts have become obscure.