As always on Football Manager, there are hidden gems, with the popular simulation game predicting the stars of the future.
Take Lionel Messi for example, he was so good as a teenager on the game that Alex McLeish’s son Jon told his dad to sign him for Rangers.
Messi will become one of the greatest of all time and Football Manager predicted his potential from the start
So an unknown prospect, McLeish Sr has yet to reflect on what could have been with Messi to establish himself as one of the greatest players to ever honor the beautiful game.
In recent years, thanks to the game’s incredible scout network, they’ve been even more accurate in their predictions.
Youngsters like Kai Havertz, Matthijs de Ligt and Gianluigi Donnarumma all had to be successful.
Not all FM prodigies sound like Messi, however, as talkSPORT.com takes a look at some of the youngsters who failed to live up to the hype below …
Donnarumma was another prodigy Football Manager thought he would become world class Kerlon
Once dubbed the new Ronaldinho and the next big thing in Brazil, the ‘seal dribble’ has been a revelation on the game.
On the pitch, he rose to prominence in 2005 when he won the South American Under-17 Championship with Brazil.
He moved from Cruzeiro to Inter via Chievo in what was an extended deal in 2008, but failed to make a single appearance during his four-year stint at San Siro.
He also spent time on loan at Ajax, as well as Brazilian clubs Nacional Esporte Clube and Parana Clube.
After spending three months without a club, Kerlon announced his retirement from football in October 2017.
Kerlon’s ‘seal dribble’ saw him humiliate his opponents, including one who got a five-game suspension for nudging him in an attempt to stop him Carlos Fierro
Did you own Football Manager 2012? Well, if you did, you’ve almost certainly owned Fierro at some point.
It was a relatively cheap buy from Chivas at the time and would guarantee you goals – and a lot of them.
He was already a formidable striker, but he became the best in the game and won numerous individual awards on a regular basis.
There are countless stories of him scoring over 70 goals a season, and no matter which club he played for, he would always become world class.
Now 26, Fierro plays as a winger for Major League Soccer club San Jose Earthquakes.
Fierro was just 16 at the start of FM12 and could be signed for a bargain of £ 1.25million Cherno Samba
Samba, then only 16 years old, was a legendary figure in Championship Manager 2001/02.
Everyone wanted a slice of Samba, which was even picked ahead of Wayne Rooney for England’s Under-17s.
Sadly, the striker never reached the grade at Millwall during his professional career, before playing in Spain, Finland, Norway and Greece, as well as lower levels of English football.
Samba hung up his boots in 2015 due to an injury, but there are still a lot of benefits to being an FM legend…
Arfa Griffiths – The Sun
Samba is now helping young people at the local level
“Everywhere I go, people always recognize my name,” Samba told talkSPORT last year.
“I was ordering my cell phone from my network provider and was going to have to queue for a few weeks to get it sent to me.
“As soon as I gave my name he said ‘Championship Manager’ and I said ‘yes mate’. He said ‘the phone is coming the next day. You don’t have to wait ”.
. – .
Samba played for England at youth level
Ton Zola Moukoko
Much like the aforementioned Samba, Moukoko was a star in England’s youth teams.
On the 2001/02 version of the game, you could buy a top notch attacking midfielder for a reduced price of £ 500,000. What more could you ask for?
Unfortunately, Moukoko, like many, was unable to replicate his FM form in real life.
He joined Derby from Djurgarden in 1999 with high hopes of succeeding in the England top flight, but a series of tragic events changed his life.
Derby County FC
Moukoko seemed destined for big things in Derby
Both of his parents died when he was just 10 years old, while his older brother tragically passed away as his career seemed to be starting to take off.
Moukoko never played for Derby again after taking a long break from football.
Now 37, Moukoko is said to be involved in training with Congo United.
Who could forget this guy! Adu was literally the poster for Championship Manager 4 – everything he touched turned to gold.
Away from FM, he became a worldwide sensation at the age of just 14 when he became the youngest American to ever sign a professional major league contract.
He also entered into a sponsorship deal with Nike and had a lawsuit with Manchester United in 2006.
Adu burst onto the scene at 14 in MLS
But unfortunately for the pint-sized forward, he didn’t live up to the initial hype and quickly pulled out of the game.
Adu has represented 13 teams in his Upside Down career to date, but now at the age of 32 he’s without a club and it looks like it just might stay that way now – even though he sparked the Jamie O’Hara’s interest in Billericay Town.
After all, not all stories have a happy ending …
Manager de football
Adu’s stats on Football Manager’s early years were just plain insane