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10 talented players who were too stubborn to succeed

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Talent alone can only get you so far because, without the right attitude and the determination to succeed, even the most talented players can falter and lose their way. Take for example the case of Ronaldinho, who is labelled one of the greatest players of recent times.Even though Ronaldinho was successful, the Brazilian was infamous for his poor off-field antics and lifestyle which garnered heavy criticism. If the Brazilian could have focused more on his game then we could have perhaps seen a much longer spell at the top for the people’s favourite.For all of Ronaldinho’s antics, he was still successful during his stay in Europe, but not all players are as talented as the Brazilian and some of them do not do justice to their talent, lose their way midway through their careers and end up as forgotten men.So here are 10 well-known players who were too stubborn to succeed. 

#1 Mario Balotelli

Balotelli scored just one Premier League goal for Liverpool

Mario Balotelli has already played for 3-time European Champions, 5-time European Champions, 7-time European Champions and Manchester City, but it is true to say that despite his huge potential, his career is not going the right way.

In only his second season with Inter he had a number of disciplinary problems, most notably with his manager Jose Mourinho and Balotelli was omitted from the squad on several occasions. In March 2010, he sparked new controversy by wearing AC Milan’s jersey on an Italian Show, while he was playing for Inter Milan.

After a series of controversies, he was sold to Manchester City in 2010 where he reunited with his former manager Roberto Mancini. He had a very good debut season at City, but his disciplinary issues followed him there as well and he was sent off on multiple occasions.

In his second season, Balotelli missed 11 games domestically and in Europe due to suspensions and he decided to take his club to a Premier League tribunal for fining him two weeks’ wages, but eventually accepted the fine. During his third season, he was involved in a physical altercation with Mancini and he was rarely used by City.

Eventually, he was sold to AC Milan in January 2013 and he scored 12 goals in 13 games to help AC Milan qualify for the UEFA Champions League. Balotelli left Milan to join Liverpool in 2014 and this time his goal scoring form let him down after managing to stay away from controversies.

Now playing for Nice in Ligue 1, he seems to have cleaned up his act with some decent performances. But the only question is how long will it last?

#2 Rafael van der Vaart

Van der Vaart

Rafael van der Vaart is an extremely talented player who has represented Netherlands in multiple International tournaments and played for Real Madrid, Ajax, Tottenham Hotspur and Hamburg, but the Dutchman has been central to several issues throughout his career, which is probably why his career graph has spiralled downwards.


He started off at Ajax, where despite becoming the captain of the team under Ronald Koeman, he was still surrounded by controversy. He was injured by Ibrahimovic in an International match against Sweden, which led to the sale of Ibrahimovic to Juventus, as a result, Van der Vaart took the Swede’s spot as striker.

He was unhappy at being played out of position and following his refusal to play on the wing in a Champions League match, he was stripped of the team captaincy by Koeman. At the end of the season, he left Ajax to join Hamburg. After two good years at Hamburg, he joined Real Madrid and then later moved to Spurs in 2010.  

Although his spell at Spurs was good, he was sold back to Hamburg after just two seasons. During his second spell at the German club, Van der Vaart didn’t have the same impact and Hamburg didn’t offer him a contract extension and it is funny because he refused to sign a contract extension during his first spell at the club.

He left the club at the end of the 2014/15 season when his contract expired to join Real Betis on a free transfer.

In a space of five years, Van der Vaart went from playing for Real Madrid to joining Real Betis after he was released by Hamburg because he refused to adapt to the roles he was offered at numerous stages in his career. 

#3 Dani Osvaldo

Osvaldo was sent off five times in 2012

Dani Osvaldo has played for 11 different clubs in his career before he turned 30. His disciplinary history has always been poor, but the most popular of his controversial stories came at Roma.

The Italian once slapped teammate Erik Lamela for not passing the ball to him often enough after a 2-0 defeat to Udinese. After returning from a winter break, the striker decided to call in sick to give him a few extra weeks off and subsequently missed the team’s winter training camp in America.

In a match against Sampdoria, he argued with Roma legend Francesco Totti to take a penalty as he had won it, he duly got his wish but ended up missing the penalty, much to the disgust of Totti and Roma fans.

In the year 2012 alone, he was sent off five times for club and country and was booed by a section of fed up Roma fans. The curtains on his Roma career fell when he took to Twitter to criticise the club’s caretaker manager for only using him as a late substitute in a 1-0 loss to Lazio in the final of the Coppa Italia.

After leaving Roma, he signed for Premier League Club Southampton, but his character remained the same. In a game against Newcastle, he was the main perpetrator in a touchline brawl which involved several players and coaching staff and he was fined £40,000 and suspended for three games by the FA.

This game also proved to be his last game for Southampton as he was involved in training ground scuffle with Jose Fonte and was then loaned to Juventus.

Osvaldo was loaned to Internazionale for the 2014/15 season but was suspended by the club for being absent from training for two days and not providing a reason for not turning up. He would later move to Boca Juniors where he got into another fight with the coach when he was caught smoking in the dressing room, leading to the termination of his contract.

#4 Royston Drenthe

Drenthe was signed by Real Madrid in 2007

From being one of the hottest young prospects in the world to leaving Reading to sign for Turkish club Kayseri Erciyesspor, that’s how much his career graph had dipped. After signing for Real Madrid at the age of 20 for a hefty fee, big things were expected from Drenthe. He played regularly in his first season at the club but featured in fewer games after the emergence of Marcelo.

After being left out for the match against Valencia he stormed out of the training ground. In his second season, he featured more for the team but suffered from anxiety issues after he was booed by the Real Madrid crowd in a game against Deportivo and did not feature for the team for a period. In fact, the manager revealed that Drenthe asked not to be picked for the three games after the Deportivo fixture.

Later he went on loan to Hercules and then to Everton, and during his stay at the Merseyside club, he was given a leave of absence on compassionate grounds and upon returning, he reported late for training. As a result, David Moyes omitted him from the club’s FA Cup semi-final squad and he was also told to stay away from the club.

Subsequently, Drenthe was released by Real Madrid; he had a brief stint with Russian team Alania Vladikavkaz, followed by a free transfer to Reading and a loan spell to Sheffield Wednesday before signing for Erciyesspor.

Oh, how it's all gone wrong for Drenthe, who retired at 29 when no club would sign him. It just goes to show that potential is nothing until it is fulfilled.

#5 Nicklas Bendtner

Bendtner was released by Arsenal in 2014

Nicklas Bendtner went from being Arsenal wonder kid to nothing but an internet sensation due to his egoistic character. He once said in an interview with The Daily Mail, “If you ask me if I am one of the best strikers in the world, I say yes because I believe it,” and this was followed by two failed loan deals with Sunderland and Juventus.

Arsene Wenger once had high hopes for Bendtner, but after multiple failed loan deals and due to his poor behaviour, he was released in 2014, after which he joined Wolfsburg in Germany.

Despite Wenger’s repeated assurances that Bendtner can succeed, he is better known for his antics away from the pitch rather than those on them. He stumbled out of London club with his jeans around his ankles just hours after Arsenal were denied a place in the 2009 Champions League final by Manchester United.

He was later involved in a high-speed crash in which he was fortunate to escape with his life. These and many more off-field incidents followed Bendtner wherever he went.

Despite his own claims of being a great goalscorer, he hasn’t done enough on the pitch to back his claims. But his good return of 29 goals in 72 games for Denmark shows that he has the ability to perform at the highest level, but to do the same he needs to keep his feet on the ground and do the talking on the pitch. 

#6 Jermaine Pennant

17 years of a senior career at 12 different clubs stands out with Jermaine Pennant. He was snapped up by Arsenal at a very young age. However, after many loan deals, arrests and even once claiming to be Ashley Cole when caught driving on the wrong side of the road, he never had a chance with the Gunners.

A decent spell at Birmingham helped him resurrect his career to an extent and this prompted Liverpool to sign the Englishman in 2006. He enjoyed a good time at Anfield and was one of the standout performers for Liverpool in the 2007 Champions League final and if Liverpool had won the game, fans would have been singing songs about him, but sadly that was not the case.

His form at Liverpool also dipped over the years and he was loaned to Portsmouth and was released by the club when his contract expired. Following this, he joined Real Zaragoza and his performances for the Spanish cub also came into question. Later he was reprimanded by his coach for turning up late for training three times in the space of two weeks and he was sent home on the third occasion, disciplined and never played for the club again.

He returned to England with Stoke City, but that didn’t last long either and he was released by the Potters as well. He then played for ISL side FC Pune City last year before returning to England to play for Championship side Wigan Athletic. He then had a stint in Singapore before moving to League One side Bury in January 2017.

#7 Hatem Ben Arfa

Ben Arfa was an extremely talented player who won the Euro U17 football championship in 2004 along with the likes of Karim Benzema and Samir Nasri. He was destined for great things and rose to stardom while at Olympique Lyon. He quickly became a star at the club along with Benzema but his Lyon career ended after he got into a training scuffle with veteran Sebastian Squillaci.

He then moved to Marseille in a controversial manner and even said that his former team lacked class and was not a great team. He was again involved in a training ground bust-up and this time with Dibrijil Cisse.

More controversy followed as he refused to leave the bench to warm-up in a defeat to PSG. In 2009, he was fined by his club for missing a training session and a month later he got into a heated argument with manager Didier Deschamps. In July 2010, he moved to Newcastle United and once again spoke ill of the club he was departing from.

Despite some good performances for Newcastle, his attitude started to put him in trouble and, eventually, Alan Pardew stripped him off his squad number and sent him on loan to Hull City.

In December 2014, he left England unexpectedly and his manager Steve Bruce said that he doesn’t know where the player is and this also signalled the end of his Hull City career. He signed for Nice in January 2015 after he was released by Newcastle, but was not eligible to play for the club at first.

He finally moved to PSG after his contract at Nice ran out. 

#8 Adriano

Adriano was once Brazil’s first choice striker

Explosive, physical, skillful and destined for greatness, this was how Adriano was lauded before his lack of work ethic, focus and personal problems were exposed, drastically affecting his performance. Adriano is right there at the top of the list of football’s forgotten men. He was once a prolific striker who scored 27 goals in 48 games for Brazil, but now a player who can’t find a club at the age of 33.

He was snapped up by Internazionale after a few promising games for his hometown club Flamengo, he sent waves of excitement in the footballing world after scoring 26 goals in 44 games while he was at Parma as a part of a co-ownership deal.

Inter brought back the Brazilian to San Siro and he scored 17 goals on his return to Milan. Then in the 2004/05 season he scored an impressive 33 goals in 46 games for both club and country.

His downfall began after the 2005/06 season when he was criticised for his dedication after being caught partying at night clubs. His drinking habit and the fame that football had given him was affecting him.

His relationship with Inter declined and he was sent back on loan to Sao Paulo. This however had no effect on him and he was sent back to Italy. Inter finally released him in 2009 due to his intolerable attitude. He later signed for Flamengo, Roma, Corinthians, Flamengo again and finally Atletico Paranaense, where he had brief and unsuccessful stints due to his lack of dedication and his drinking problems.  

#9 Kevin-Prince Boateng

Boateng was recently suspended by Schalke over disciplinary issues

Kevin-Prince Boateng is the controversial half-brother of Bayern Munich defender Jerome Boateng. He played for multiple clubs in Germany, Italy and England, and during his time playing for Borussia Dortmund, he was handed a four-match ban for a tough challenge and a no-nonsense flying kick to the head of Makoto Hasebe.

His controversial career hogged the limelight when he injured Michael Ballack in the final of the 2010 FA Cup and this ruled the German captain out of the FIFA World Cup. In 2013, he signed for Schalke and in his second season at the club, controversy followed as he was indefinitely suspended from the club in the aftermath of a defeat against FC Koln.

Boateng’s international career was far more controversial than his club career. He represented Ghana internationally from 2010 and represented them at the 2010 World Cup.

In November 2011, Boateng announced his retirement from international football less than two months before the 2012 African Cup of Nations citing concerns regarding his health. His decision was baffling, as he had assured the team of his commitment a month before the announcement.

However he reversed his decision and featured in the 2014 FIFA World Cup, but on June 26 he was sent home from the Ghana squad for disciplinary reasons only hours before the final group stage game against Portugal after he was alleged to have verbally abused former manager James Kwesi Appiah during a team meeting.

#10 Andy van der Meyde

Meyde was a great prospect while at Ajax

Andre van der Meyde was yet another great prospect to have emerged from Ajax’s famous youth academy. The Dutchman had the world at his feet when he became a star while he was at the Amsterdam club, playing alongside the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Wesley Sneijder, Rafael van der Vaart, Cristian Chivu and Steven Pienaar. In 2003, he joined Inter Milan but he only managed 14 league appearances in his first season and 18 in his second season.

After two troubled seasons at Inter, mainly due to his drinking problems, he left the Italian club to sign for Premier League outfit, Everton, in 2005. But once again there was speculation regarding his future after failing to settle into the side after his first season.

This was mainly attributed to a combination of injuries and alcoholism. He was fined by the club for breach of discipline and he accused David Moyes of telling downright lies in regard to his fitness but apologised afterwards.

In 2007 he cast shadows of doubt over his future by failing to turn up for a scheduled training session and he was later suspended following a breach of club discipline. Following this, he was omitted from the first team for over a year and in June 2009 he was released by the club when his contract expired.

He signed for PSV Eindhoven and WKE in Netherlands with no success, before calling it a day on his football career at the age of 31.

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