In the movie A Bronx Tale, there was a particular scene where Robert De Niro was talking to his son about talents.
The little boy was seen asking the two time Oscar winner if he could become a Baseball player, to which he replied yes, but told him what he must do.
In his words, he said: “Remember the saddest thing in life is a wasted talent. You can have all the talent in the world, but if you don’t do the right thing, then nothing happens, but when you do right, guess what, good things happen.”
The boy did not turn out to be a Baseball player, and that’s a familiar story with former U-17 players, although their cases may not be extreme like that of the young Anello.
The FIFA U-17 World Cup has been a tournament that has launched stars that will go on to become world-class in the future. Players like Cesc Fabregas, Ronaldinho, Kanu Nwankwo, Carlos Tevez, Toni Kroos, Gianluigi Buffon, Francesco Totti, Xavi Hernandez, Casillas and many others were all products of the competition.
However, for each of the players mentioned above, there were players like Adriano, Nassim Ben Khalifa and Bojan Krkic who all failed to reach their full potential.
With the 18th edition of the competition currently ongoing in Brazil where Nigeria’s Golden Eaglets are well represented, Soccernet.ng takes a look at former Golden Eaglets stars that failed to reach their full potential.
Sani Emmanuel: Most Nigerian fans will remember him for his impact from the bench. The now 26-year-old was a “super-sub” for Nigeria at the 2009 edition which the country hosted. Emannuel won the Golden Ball at that tournament, while he also scored five times.
His performance in that competition was supposed to kickstart a promising career, but despite his burgeoning talents, he never made it to the top level.
He was reported to be on the radar of Tottenham after the tournament, but he eventually signed for Lazio where he failed to make a single appearance for the Rome based side. He had stints with Salamiterna, FC Biel-Bienne, Beitar Jerusalem and Oskarshamns where he was last heard of.
Stanley Okoro: Another member of the 2009 squad, Okoro was so good that he was nicknamed “Little Messi”. However, despite the similarities in style with that of the Barcelona magician, Okoro’s career never got going.
Unconfirmed reports suggested his career stalled because he falsified his age at that time. The now 26-year-old last played for NPFL side Plateau United in 2017. Before then, he had stints with Almeria and Heartland.
Chrisantus Macauley: Before Victor Osimhen, there was Chrisantus. The 29-year-old was supposed to be Super Eagles next Rashidi Yekini after he won the Golden Boot at the 2007 U-17 World Cup.
The lanky striker scored seven goals in South Korea, and that earned him a move to Hamburg in Germany. But it all went downhill from there. He was loaned out to Karlsruher after making just 12 appearances for Hamburg second team. Following his time with Karlsruher, he was sent out on loan to FSV Frankfurt where he scored eight goals in 26 appearances.
The most prolific time of Chrisantus career came at Las Palmas where he scored 20 goals in 68 appearances. However, that was as good as it gets for Chrisantus with him having stints with Sivasspor, AEK Athens, Reus, HJK Helsinki and now Zob Ahan in Iran.
Femi Opabunmi: The Ibadan born left-winger was the star 2001 edition winning the silver boot with six goals to his name. He went on to feature for the Super Eagles against England at the 2002 FIFA World Cup.
If that was supposed to spurge him to greater heights, it did the opposite as he was never called up again to the national team. The 34-year-old featured for Shooting Stars, Grasshopper, Hapoel Be’er Sheva, Nihort before his career was brought to an abrupt end due to a mysterious eye injury.
Kelechi Iheanacho: Although it seems harsh to include the Leicester man in this list, Iheanacho was included because a lot was expected from Iheanacho, but he has failed to fulfil potential despite the numerous talents.
After winning the Golden Ball and Silver shoe award at the 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup, a lot of top clubs scrambled for his signature, but it was Manchester City who won the race for his signature.
Critics felt the move was a bad one for the Nigerian international and they were right, as Iheanacho struggled at the Etihad despite being given enough chances by Mauricio Pellegrini.
After struggling to find his feet at City, he was shipped off to Leicester, but it was more of the same story with Iheanacho battling for form. Although he is still with the Foxes, his career is now at crossroads having lost his place in Brendan Rodgers squad and with the National team.
Other names who failed to deliver on the early promises shown include Isaac Success, Haruna Lukman, Ganiyu Oseni, Kabiru Akinsola, Rabiu Ibrahim.