They came, they saw, and they left - football's biggest letdowns

Liverpool v Trabzonspor - UEFA Europa League Play-off
Vineet Varma

Only time will tell whether French youngster Raphael Varane can do justice to his talent with Spanish giants Real Madrid.

19-year old Varane, who looked in great touch against Barcelona, scored a late header to put Madrid level in last week’s Spanish Cup semifinal against the Catalans.

Varane recieved praises from footballing pundits for his classy display in the 1-1 draw, and has also been earmarked for future greatness by the legendary Zinedine Zidane.

However, only time will tell whether the young defender can live up to all the hype surrounding him, as there have been instances in the past, when many a ‘promising’ player have faded into mediocrity (Andrei Arshavin?).

So the writer has come up with a list of players, who after that initial spark of brilliance have long since gone into obscurity.

1. Ryan Babel

A product of the famed Ajax academy, Babel was touted to set the Premier League on fire, after moving from Amsterdam to Liverpool.

Blessed with great pace and trickery, the young winger had an impressive first season at Anfield, reaching the Champions League semifinals with the Reds, only to lose out to an inspired Chelsea.

But the Dutchman failed to click later, becoming more of a peripheral figure at the club, with few goals and even fewer first team appearances.

A frustrated Babel was later sold off to Bundesliga club Hoffenhiem after four seasons with the Reds, which yielded just 22 goals in 91 appearances.

Babel scored just six goals during his two-season stay in Germany, and was then offloaded off to his childhood club Ajax.

Babel is currently on a one season contract with Ajax, but it is highly unlikely that the Dutch winger will ever fulfill the once great things so expected of him!

2. Tomas Brolin

Tomas Brolin of Leeds United

Does the above name ring a bell?

Yes, he is the very same portly Swede who became an overnight sensation after scoring a stunner against England in Euro ’92.

Brolin, after a successful stint in the Serie A with Parma, later joined Leeds United, with the ‘Whites’ eager to taste success in both the Premier league and Europe.

Though he did well initially, injuries and disagreements with then coach Howard Wilkinson made sure his stay at Elland Road came to a premature end.

Brolin could only manage a mere 4 goals off 20 starts for Leeds and was loaned off to Swiss club FC Zurich for a three month spell in the interim.

Brolin exited Elland Road in controversial circumstances, and later went on to join Crystal Palace, to quietly end a so called ‘promising’ career!

3. Sergiy Rebrov

Spurs v Charlton  X

Tottenham Hotspur had signed Ukranian Rebrov from Dynamo Kiev in 2000, beating stiff competition in the transfer market.

Rebrov had earlier formed a lethal partnership with Andriy Shevchencko, as the duo terrorised defences across Europe with their goal-scoring exploits.

Though Shevchencko later moved on to Serie A giants AC Milan and made a mark for himself, the same cannot be said of Rebrov, as he endured a miserable time at White Hart Lane under then coach Glenn Hoddle.

Rebrov went from potential star in the making to a bench-warmer, scoring just 10 goals in 60 appearances during a four season stay at Spurs.

The Ukranian later quit Spurs and changed a host of clubs, including West Ham United and Fenerbahce, but could never recover his glory days of yore.

Rebrov rejoined Kiev in 2005 and did show glimpses of his earlier form (20 goals in 53 appearances), but later moved on to Russian club Rubin Kazan in 2008.

Kazan won the domestic league title in 2008, with Rebrov scoring 5 goals in 31 appearances.

Rebrov retired from all forms of football after a solitary season in Russia, but still remains an enigma of sorts, especially after a chequered footballing career!

4. Albert Luque

Newcastle United v Juventus

Great things were expected of Spain’s Luque, as the young winger had helped Deportivo La Coruna reach their first ever Champions League semifinals in 2003, after a miraculous comeback against Ac Milan in the quarterfinals.

‘Depor’, who had lost 4-1 away in the first leg against Milan, staged a remarkable comeback at the Riazor to win 4-0 and edge out Milan on aggregate.

Luque scored in that memorable tie, and soon went on to establish himself as a player of top quality, with clubs lining up to sign the Spaniard.

Newcastle United were successful in getting his signature, and a bright future was expected of the youngster in the Premiership.

But it all went wrong, as an injured hamstring ensured that the Spaniard would spend most of his time recovering, away from the pitch.

An injury plagued Luque played only 21 games, and managed just a mere goal(against Sunderland), in a two season stay at the Tyneside.

After leaving Newcastle, Luque moved on to Dutch club Ajax, but could never achieve anything of note, and finally ended his footballing career in Spain, after being released as a free agent by Malaga!

5. Kleberson

Manchester United v Crystal Palace

Described as a ‘driving force’ by his coach Luiz Felipe Scolari, Kleberson was part of the famous Brazilian team which won the World Cup in 2002.

Manchester United snapped up the Brazilian from Atletico Paranaense, for a six and a half million pound fee, to replace Argentine flop Juan Sebastian Veron.

Two years later, the Brazilian was on his way out of Old Trafford, after scoring just 2 goals in 20 appearances, and was promptly sold off to Turkey’s Besiktas.

Though injuries played a major part in Kleberson’s failure to click at United, the Brazilian nevertheless was poor during his limited time at Old Trafford, and was percieved as a bigger dud than Veron.

Kleberson, who now plies his trade for Flamengo in the Brazilian League, never recovered his golden touch, and has made only a handful of appearances for the ‘Selecao’ post 2002!

Though the list of players who have failed to shine after an impressive start is huge, the writer feels the above mentioned players definitely are worth the top 5 list!

Edited by Staff Editor


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