Professional football is a high-pressure arena. Some might even say it has been a business longer than it has been a sport to enjoy.
The stresses of performing in front of thousands of expectant fans can sometimes be lost on those that don’t take to the field one weekend after another. It can not be easy to put personal struggles to the side, to dazzle the television cameras, do one’s job to full effect and be the best version of themselves as entertainers and athletes.
With that, it’s only natural for a select number of stars to fall by the wayside. The constraints of juggling the demands of being a role model as well as a consummate pro can cause even the most talented of individuals to experience slumps from which there is no return.
Let’s take a look at five examples of players who simply lost their natural ability.
Once the toast of European football, Adriano was a rising star who looked capable of becoming one of the most prolific strikers the game had ever seen. Alas, he’s now 34 years of age, trying to earn his crust with fourth-tier American outfit Miami United FC. Needless to say, his best days are behind him and he has no chance of reclaiming his formidable form – the only hope now is that he can rediscover his love for the beautiful game and reach a calm state of living.
Anybody who loves football hates to see its likable characters get stuck with the tragic storylines, but that’s what happened to the former Brazil international.
He used to score goals for fun with Parma and during the early years of his second stay with Serie A superpower Inter Milan, but the death of his father, coupled with an increased expectancy by the fans, saw him spiral into a crippling depression which resulted in a spectacular loss of form.
Since then, he experienced a number of really unimpressive sojourns with a variety of clubs thanks to alcohol, depression and personal demons. Forced to return to his homeland, he turned out for Sao Paulo, Flamengo and Corinthians among others but he couldn’t reignite his spark again. His tale is one of a waste of genuine potential, but he will always be fondly remembered as a player who created great memories for the neutrals.