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Freddy Adu Will Be Back: First of Eleven Predictions for 2011
Here’s an old prediction, now rephrased for 2011: This will be Freddy Adu’s comeback year.
His critics insist that Adu is finished, barely a master, and his latest concert is a test. He has practiced, without a contract, with FB Randers, already in 10th place out of 12 teams in the Danish super league.
You could certainly argue that at the age of 21, Adu is still an extremely successful footballer. He has made millions from major sponsors, including Nike; he has played for major teams, including the US national team; he has scored crucial goals; was a reliable player and had a good run last year with Aris Salonika FC, the main club in Greece’s second largest city, Thessaloniki.
But in an era where success is an executioner’s scaffold and anyone who reaches the top must climb down the trap door, Adu is portrayed as the miracle that broke a promise.
For those who don’t know the promise, here is a summary.
Adu hails from the Ghanaian port city of Tema, a crowded suburb of Accra. It is here that 4-year-old Fredua Koranteng becomes a brave street star.
He could have remained invisible, but his mother wins the Green Card Lottery, goes to America. At age 12, he is allowed to skip two grades to play varsity at a small private high school, The Heights. Adu leads the team to a Maryland state championship.
Of the school, which is in Potomac, the principal writes in the online description, “At Heights, parents are helped to mold their sons into the type of men they would like their daughters to marry—men who will be wonderful.
Judging by the media gallery, including photos from the schools Annual Golf Classic, not many black fathers or sons ever go to the Heights. No, this would seem to be one of those places where dads in their late 30s and early 40s, up to their eyeballs in Ralph Lauren, inspire pride, and if the Adus of the world can ‘help them get to the winner’s circle, then badda bing, badda boom.
From there Adu goes to the IMG Soccer Academy, gets a feel from InterMilan, spends time at DC United, gets a $1 million contract with Nike in 2003, has his 15 minutes on 60 Minutes, and then moves on to half a dozen mostly European . teams, as well as the US national team.
During Adu’s professional career, starting in 2002 with the U17 national team, Adu has scored 54 goals in 198 matches.
Critics say he is volatile, burnt out, sometimes difficult to coach and lacks technical knowledge. They also point to his exclusion from the preliminary 30-man World Cup squad as another indication that he is done.
Adu has answered over the years that he does his best work when he is alone. He claims he trained at DC United. He says that when he received the ball, “I felt like a robot”.
He has also found 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 in itself is saying something. He is not thinking like a master, even if it seems to be his career.
At the moment Adu is practicing in Randers, a working-class town in the middle of Denmark, a former colonial power that once ran a slave trade from a castle not 30 miles from where Adu grew up.
Such are the ironies in his life.
Take a closer look at his clips, listen to what he has to say. Consider a kid whose freakish talent led him to that circus of agents, private schools and premium leagues that have no real interest in the player, only in what he puts in the coffers.
And he has survived it all. And even if he’s not 21, but 23 or 24, Adu still has at least five or six years left.
Also remember that there are some players who are better left alone. You teach them what you can and then you let them go. You let them play their game, not yours.
In American football, Michael Vick is an example. If he has to learn how to ‘slide’ guards and linebackers as defenses slide their players, he’s also best left to his own devices when it comes to extending a play. That’s why people come to see it, often that’s how it wins.
Among his tweets, Adu wrote “Attitude is EVERYTHING, Never put a full stop where God puts a comma.”
Freddy Adu will return.
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