3 fallen stars of African football
African football has certainly come a long way, and there is no denying the raw talent on the African continent. At U17 World Cups, no team is more successful that Nigeria, the West African nation has won the tournament a remarkable five times. To put that achievement into perspective, powerhouse footballing countries like Spain and Germany have never won the title, while England the current champions won its first title last year.
In fact, at the U17 World Cup, African teams have been historically more successful than any other region in the world. The region has won the tournament more than any other, with Ghana winning the title twice. African teams have also finished runners-up the most times and boast the second most semifinal appearances.
This African dominance is not that evident at the U20 level but African teams still generally give a strong showing. Ghana, led by Andre Ayew, won the U20 World Cup in 2009. At the U20 World Cup, African teams have made the semi-finals a total of 13 times.
What makes that stat even more significant is the fact that an African team has never reached the semi-final of a senior World Cup.
Individual accolades as well have been collected in droves by African players at these youth tournaments. A total of nine Golden Balls and nine Golden Boots have been won by African players at these youth tournaments.
These prizes have never been won by an African player at the senior level, which makes one curious as to just why that is? The accusations of age manipulation, a lack of motivation or improper senior squad management are all genuine reasons to answer the inability of African teams to produce at the senior stage.
While many football prodigies fade away, it seems that African wonderkids frequently and disappointingly fail to reach their maximum potential.
The cases of Andre Ayew, John Obi Mikel and Seydou Keïta are rare especially given Africa's supremacy in youth level football.
Where have some of these stars gone? What are they doing now? What happened after they got their big moves?
Let's have a look at three fallen stars of African football.
#3 Macauley Chrisantus
At the 2007 U17 World Cup in South Korea, Chrisantus was on fire. The tall number nine scored a tournament-leading seven goals as Nigeria captured the crown. Chrisantus scored goals against Germany, Argentina and France as his teammates steamrolled past the opposition.
For his efforts, Chrisantus was awarded the tournaments silver ball as the second best player behind Germany's Toni Kroos. Since then, Kroos has gone to win four UEFA Champions League titles and the World Cup while Chrisantus' cabinet looks a bit different.
After the World Cup, Chrisantus, after attracting interest from Europe's elite, decided on what seemed a safer path and signed for the Bundesliga outfit Hamburg. Hamburg at the time was doing a brilliant job developing Europe's top talent. Vincent Kompany, Nigel de Jong and Rafael van der Vaart among many others developed their game for the next level at the German club.
The move on paper looked a good fit but in reality, Chrisantus never played for Hamburg's first team. The player went on a series of loans before he left Germany for Spain and Las Palmas. His career never really got off the ground and after further stints in Turkey and Greece, he last played for HJK Helsinki in stints in Turkey and Finland.