2012 is the year I achieved something I never thought possible.
I had my doubters throughout the GCSE year: teachers, friends and family saying I couldn’t do it.
However, after nine months of endless studying, late nights and early starts I finally took Vannes OC to the Champions League on Football Manager.
The French Third Division side were in a rut when I took the helm.
Yet, with a shrewd transfer policy and a hardline approach both on the training field and with the media, the OC won back-to-back promotions.
There were two season of mediocrity in Ligue 1 before an outstanding campaign saw the underdogs finish second.
They had reached the dizzying heights of the Champions League, aka the promised land.
On the game there are young talents destined to become world beaters by 2018.
I found myself wondering where all these online geniuses were now. Had they won Ballon d’Ors? Are they household names? Or was the virtual potential just to much to live up to? Let’s find out.
Goalkeeper: Luis Guilherme
Available for £500,000, this youngster had the potential to rival Thibaut Courtois and David De Gea in the game.
Yet the young man, who was capped by Brazil’s Under-17, never left his native country and is now making his trade for America Football Club in Rio de Janeiro.
Left-Back: Jack Robinson
Robinson was Liverpool’s second-youngest ever player, but he never made the grade in the Premier League and is now at Championship side Nottingham Forest.
Robinson was an absolute rock on the game, more than capable of pocketing Lionel Messi.
While still playing at a good level, he is now trying to stop Hal Robson-Kanu rather than the big fish in the Champions League.
Centre-back: Kyriakos Papadopoulos
Try saying that after a few!
This Greek God was a force to be reckoned with. He would cost you £30million, but boy was he worth it.
Still a key man for the Greek national team and Hamburg, you can’t help but feel a sense of underachievement with Real Madrid and Manchester United battling for his signature on the game.
Centre-back: Kurt Zouma
Zouma has been a feature in the Premier League for four seasons now.
A relatively key man for Chelsea in the 14/15 title winning season, he suffered knee ligament damage the following year, hindering his development. The Frenchman is now on loan at Everton after a season with Stoke.
Quick, strong and surprisingly technical, Zouma was tipped for big things on FM12 and, who knows, after a good season with the Toffees, Chelsea may still want him back.
Right-back: Sime Vrsaljko
This pacey Croatian could be snapped up for around £1mil, making him one of the bargains of the XI.
Vrsaljko went all the way to the World Cup final with Croatia and is now on a loan from Atletico Madrid to Inter Milan, so he’s on track to becoming the star Football Manager said he would be.
Left winger: Eden Hazard
Probably the safest bet of the team, Hazard went on to be one of the very best on the simulation.
Undeniably one of the top five players in the world football at the moment, Hazard has more than lived up to his potential.
Centre-mid: Mateo Kovacic
As fate would have it Kovacic is currently playing alongside Hazard at Chelsea, having joined on loan from Real Madrid in the summer.
He’s a World Cup finalist with three Champions League titles to his name. Not bad for a 24 year-old.
Centre-mid: Andrea Bertolacci
A versatile Italian with all the stats required to become a top central midfield player.
Bertolacci earned his big move to AC Milan in 2015 but after a disastrous few years he’s back at his old club Genoa.
At 27 you fear this Italian’s ship is sailing away.
Right winger: Raheem Sterling
On the game Sterling rose to be England’s main man. Quick fast and pacey- that’s what his game was all about.
In reality, it’s a similar story.
Sterling is very close to being at the peak of his predicted following an impressive season in which he scored 18 Premier League goals from out wide.
Striker: Mbaye Niang
Simply prolific on the game. He was a guaranteed 20+ goals-a-season player.
Probably most famous for a tame year at Watford, scoring two goals in 16 games, the Senegal international has a record of 14 goals in his last 80 league games.
He could be the one that got away, although his 2018 World Cup showing hinted at a brighter future.
Striker: Carlos Fierro
My marquee signing for Vannes. A real poacher who loved the tap-ins but scored some of the most important goals in my tenure.
Another yet to leave his native land, the Mexican poacher is currently playing for Monarcas Morelia and never quite proved his worth on the world stage.
So there we have it. Safe to say some of these names did a little better than others. All heroes of the game which took over my life for a long period of time.
What did I get in my GCSE’s I hear you ask? Can’t remember.
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