Football, like everything else in life, is full of ups and downs. It’s not uncommon to find many football players who face adversity early in their careers before blossoming to become star players of note. Here are the top 5 players who faced various challenges before becoming successful football players.
1. Diego Costa
The Brazilian-born Spanish international didn’t have the easiest path to the top. As a youngster in his native Brazil, Diego had unsuccessful trials with Clubs like Palmeiras, Corinthians, and Santos. He would later join modest Brazilian lower-tier side Barcelona SP. At 17, Costa joined Portuguese top-flight team FC Braga but barely featured for them. A series of loan moves finally got him a dream transfer to Spanish side Atletico Madrid where he had to endure another round of loan moves to other clubs.
Diego, however, remained undeterred, returning to Atletico for the 2012-2013, and 2013-2014 seasons. Costa flourished in these two seasons scoring 56 goals in 96 appearances. This earned him a big-money move to English side Chelsea FC where he would go on the win multiple domestic league and cup titles, before later returning to Atletico Madrid.
2. Michel Platini
The French soccer legend also endured a poor start to his career. Although many don’t know it, Platini is one of the famous soccer players who failed at first. As a youngster in the late 1960s, Platini failed quite a few football trials with various clubs in France for various reasons ranging from injury to poor health. Luckily for a young Michel, his father was a director at AS Nancy, so it was from there that he was able to start his career.
Platini excelled at Nancy and later Saint-Etienne before earning a big move to Juventus FC in Italy. The former French Midfielder would later go on to play for his country at 3 World Cups and also win the prestigious Ballon d’Or award 3 years in a row from 1983-1985.
3. Roy Keane
The tough-tackling Manchester United legend had to battle all the way before reaching the top. The straight-talking former Ireland international had been told as a young aspiring footballer that he wouldn’t make it in the game because of his small size.
A series of failed trials at various English football clubs didn’t do much to boost his confidence. Keane would then have to settle for Irish semi-professional side Cobh Ramblers FC. A career-changing move to then Premier League club Nottingham Forest in 1990 eventually led to a then-British record transfer to the Red Devils in 1993, and as they say, the rest is history.
4. Jamie Vardy
Things were not always so great for the former England international. Jamie was released as a youngster by English lower-tier Sheffield Wednesday. Slowly from then on Vardy had to work his way up from non-league clubs to eventually playing for then Championship side Leicester City FC.
Promotion to the Premier League and a fairytale run to the title completed a turn-around in fortunes for the 34-year-old. Vardy has also established himself as one of the Premier league’s top marksmen scoring over 100 goals in 7 seasons. Jamie Vardy is also regarded as one of the best late bloomers in football.
5. Demba Ba
The Senegalese striker failed to make an impact as a youngster. Demba failed a number of trials with clubs like Lyon FC, Auxerre FC, Barnsley, Watford to mention a few. A stint at 1899 Hoffenheim, Westham FC, and Newcastle United FC would change the trajectory of Ba’s career. The big man would eventually earn a big move to top England side, Chelsea.
- Ian Wright
- Paul Pogba
- Florian Thauvin
- Robert Pires
- Luca Toni
- Rickie Lambert
- Ciro Immobile