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Freddy Adu Will Be Back: First of Eleven Predictions for 2011
Here’s an old prediction, now revamped for 2011: This will be the year Freddy Adu returns.
His detractors insist that Adu is finished, barely a mate, and his latest gig is proof of that. He trained, without a contract, with FB Randers, now in 10th place out of 12 teams in the Danish super league.
Of course, you could say that at 21, Adu is still an extremely successful football player. He has earned millions from major sponsors including Nike; he played for big teams, including the US national team; he scored decisive goals; a reliable playmaker, and last year enjoyed a good run with Aris Salonika FC, the leading club in Greece’s second largest city, Thessaloniki.
But in a time when success is a hangman’s scaffolding and whoever makes it to the top must descend through the trapdoor, Adu is portrayed as the prodigy who broke his promise.
For those unfamiliar with the promise, here is a recap.
Adu comes from the Ghanaian port city of Tema, a bustling suburb of Accra. It’s here that four-year-old Fredua Koranteng becomes a sassy street star.
He may have remained invisible but his mother wins the green card lottery and moves to America. At age 12, he was allowed to skip two grades to play college at a small private high school, The Heights. Adu leads the team to a Maryland State Championship.
About the school, which is in Potomac, the principal writes in the online description: “In the heights, parents are helped to mold their sons into the type of men they would have their daughters marry – men who will be great
Judging by the media gallery, including photos from the annual Schools Golf Classic, few black fathers or sons ever go to the heights. No, this seems to be one of those places where dads in their late 30s and early 40s, all the way to eyeballs in Ralph Lauren, drive pride, and if the Adus of the world can help them reach the winner’s circle, so badda bing, badda boom.
From there, Adu goes to the IMG Soccer Academy, learns about InterMilan, spends time at DC United, lands a million dollar contract with Nike in 2003, spends his 15 minutes on 60 Minutes, then moves on to a half a dozen mainly European teams, as well as the American national team.
During Adu’s professional career, which started in 2002 with the U17 national team, Adu scored 54 goals in 198 matches.
Critics say he is inconsistent, burnt out, sometimes difficult to coach and lacks technical knowledge. They point to his very exclusion from the preliminary 30-man squad for the World Cup as another indication that he’s finished.
Adu has responded over the years that when left alone he does his best. He claims he was over-coached at DC United. He says that when he received the ball, “I felt like a ‘robot’.
He also deduced that he does not thrive in the European environment where there is little or no dialogue with the coaches. The message is, ‘you play, I coach. Take it or leave it.’
Adu still believes he can be a great player and that means something in itself. He doesn’t think like a companion even though that seems to be his career.
For now, Adu practices in Randers, a working-class town in central Denmark, a former colonial power that once ran a slave trade from a castle less than 30 miles from where Adu grew up.
Such are the ironies of his life.
Watch his clips carefully, listen to what he says. Consider a kid whose odd talent has landed him in this circus of agents, private schools, and premium leagues that has no real interest in the player but only in what he puts in the vaults.
And he survived it all. And even if he is not 21 but 23 or 24, Adu still has at least five or six years ahead of him.
Also remember that there are players who are best left to fend for themselves. You teach them what you can, then you let them go. You let them play their game, not yours.
In American football, Michael Vick is an example. While he has to learn to “slide” guards and fullbacks as defenses slide their players, it’s also best left to his own devices when he needs to stretch a play. That’s for that people come to see him, that’s often how he wins.
Among his tweets, Adu wrote “Attitude is EVERYTHING, never put a period where God puts a comma”.
Freddy Adu will return.
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