African wonderkids who never realised their potential

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Macauley Chrisantus

Chrisantus is best known for his star turn at the U-17 World Cup in South Korea in 2007, where he won the Silver Ball, but had earlier announced himself to an African audience at the African Championship earlier that year.

The striker memorably scored in a 5-0 mauling of Morocco en route to the final tournament, where Nigeria emerged victorious, defeating Togo after extra time in the final.Chrisantus appeared set to build on that early promise, but wasn’t able to translate his scoring form to a senior professional career.At 29, he’s currently with UB Conquense in the Spanish third tier, following spells with AEK Athens, Real Murcia, Las Palmas, HJK Helsinki, Sivasspor and many others.Nii LampteyHaving escaped his abusive parents by being smuggled into Belgium to link up with Anderlecht, Lamptey began to build a new life for himself in Europe.However, the gifted Ghanaian – who was dubbed Pele’s successor by the Brazilian himself after leading the Black Starlets to victory at the 1991 Under-17 World Cup – was ruthlessly exploited by agents and money men, and suffered one personal tragedy after another, losing two children to the same lung disease.

“I have been through hell, through so much pain,” he later confessed, after setting up a football school to provide kids with the education he was never fortunate enough to have received.

Souleymane CoulibalyBack in 2011, Coulibaly was simply sensational, scoring nine in four games at the U-17 World Cup, including a remarkable hat-trick against Brazil.His performances earned him a move to Tottenham Hotspur, but he never made the grade at Spurs and is currently with Tunisian giants Etoile du Sahel after a bizarre career path including Bari, Peterborough United, Newport County, Al-Ahly, Partick Thistle, and Kilmarnock.Agyemang OpokuDespite being only 30, the forward has been out of the professional game for the last eight years, having last played for Levski Sofia back in 2012.When he burst onto the scene at the 2005 African U-17 Championships, he looked like he had the potential to be a future key man for the Black Stars, notably netting a goal a game before Ghana were defeated by The Gambia in the final.

He’d go on to represent his country at the U-17 World Championship in Peru later that year, before winning the U-20 World Cup with Ghana four years later.

His playing career included spells with Ashanti Gold, CS Sfaxien and Al-Sadd, but injuries denied him the chance to build on his early success.Ousman Jallow Jallow scored the only goal of the final in the U-17 Nations Cup in 2005 as The Gambia defeated Ghana 1-0—a remarkable achievement for such a tiny nation.The forward also represented his homeland at the U-20 World Cup and African Championship in 2007, amidst rumours linking him with a move to Arsenal or Chelsea.However, work permit problems ultimately denied Jallow the chance of a dream move, and sent him on a less glamorous career path.He’s featured for the likes of Brondby, Caykur Rizespor, HJK Helsinki and Irtysh Pavlodar, but never truly reached the heights that once were expected of him.The attacker last played for Cypriot side Yenicami Agdelen.

?Ishmael Addo

In 1999, Addo became the fourth African forward—after Moussa Traore, Fode Camara and Oruma—to finish as top scorer in the youth championship after scoring seven goals.The hitman scored four in three latter-stage matches, but didn’t recreate these fine efforts during a nomadic senior career or a brief nine-cap career with the Black Stars.The baby-faced assasin remains the top scorer in a single season in the GPL.Bernard BorteyWhere did it all go wrong for Dong Dada Diouf?The attacker delivered a serious of outstanding showings during the 1999 U-17 Afcon, as Ghana thumped Burkina Faso to win the title.

He scored in the semi-final against Cameroon, and in the final, but was unable to translate that success to a memorable career.

The 37-year-old still amassed 27 Black Stars caps—contributing for over a decade after his 1999 triumphs—but never achieved success outside of his homeland, going on to play briefly in Israel, Vietnam and the United Arab Emirates.Dominic AdiyiahSadly, like his compatriot Lamptey, Adiyiah looks destined to be one of those remarkable youth prodigies who never truly live up to their early billing.The 30-year-old terrorised defences at the 2009 World Cup, scoring eight goals in seven games, but despite progressing to the Black Stars senior side for the 2010 World Cup, he currently represents Thai side Chiangmai United.

Source: Goal.com

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