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D.C UNITED

Wayne Rooney, Freddy Adu and the twisted tale of two Football Manager 2005 wonderkids

Man United and England's all-time top scorer is set to join D.C United, a team familiar to Football Manager addicts of the past

This really shouldn’t be an article.

We can hear the ‘slow news days?’ barbs from here.

But our obsession with Football Manager 2005, the greatest game of its kind (level with Championship Manager 2), would not let this go unpublished.

When we saw that Wayne Rooney had officially joined MLS side D.C United, we instantly thought of one man, Freddy Adu.

Destination: Memory Lane

AP:Associated Press
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Destination: Memory Lane

Adu is well-known among Football Manager addicts of the past.

In the 2005 version of the game, the D.C United player was a 15-year-old forward with an unprotected contract — meaning that you could pick him up for free.

While other boys our age were flirting with girls via MSN messenger, we were watching a glitching circle with the name ‘Adu’ written under it do absolute bits.

Adu was the wonderkid to end all wonderkids.

Fernando Cavenaghi, Anthony Vanden Borre, Alexander Kerzhakov and Carlos Tevez were all must-haves as well but more often than not, Adu would develop into the game’s best player.

Oh, sweet nostalgia

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Oh, sweet nostalgia

Unfortunately, reality was a lot harsher on Adu.

Rather than transforming into the Ballon d’Or hoarding, World Cup lifting, Ronaldo x Batistuta hybrid of which the prophecy foretold, he took to flogging vacuum cleaners to pay the bills.

That’s not the Freddy Adu who fired our Sheffield Wednesday side to Champions League glory

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That’s not the Freddy Adu who fired our Sheffield Wednesday side to Champions League glory

In 2006, he had a two-week trial with Man United as real-life expectation of his potential began to match that of the virtual world.

“Freddy has done all right,” was Sir Alex Ferguson’s diplomatic assessment.

“He is a talented boy. He’ll go back to the US and we’ll keep a check on him.

“When he is 18, we will have to assess what we can do next.”

Despite these words of encouragement for a bona fide legend of the game, Adu’s progression fell off a cliff soon after.

This was pretty much as good as it got

AP:Associated Press
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This was pretty much as good as it got

Unsuccessful spells at Benfica and Monaco (loan) were followed by a series of more obscure loan moves to Greece and Turkey.

Permanent transfers to Philadelphia Union, Bahia (Brazil), Jagodina (Serbia) and KuPS (Finland) went by unnoticed as it became clear that, on this occasion, the Football Manager boffins had failed to channel their inner Nostradamus.

One of Football Manager 2005’s other notable wonderkids did alright for himself though…

Flair 20. Creativity 20. Strength 19.

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Flair 20. Creativity 20. Strength 19.

Rooney was perhaps the most obvious young talent on the game as he had signed for Man United for £27million in the summer of 2004.

Still, the Evertonian’s success was not guaranteed.

A raw talent with a temper that threatened to distract from his ability, Rooney owes much to Ferguson for development.

Fast-forward 13 years and Rooney is Man United and England’s all-time top scorer.

He’s got five Premier League medals and a Champions League triumph to show for his efforts, as well as ten other major honours.

Rooney is also the only man in the Premier League era to have scored over 200 goals and provided over 100 assists.

Undisputed legend

PA:Press Association
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Undisputed legend

If his achievements sound familiar, it’s probably because you played with Adu until the rest of the players in FM05 were regens.

And to think, the two of them sgared a training ground for two weeks in 2006 — back when Fergie was playing FM in real life.

For many of you, the fact the real life’s most famous wonderkid of 2005 is set to join the club who produced Football Manager’s most famous ever wonderkid will leave you feeling like this…

steve coogan shrug GIF

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But this is the kind of s**t that really gets our juices flowing.

In this chaotic, fickle and turbulent world of football, such pleasing connections should be savoured.

D.C United — former home of the wonderkid who never was, and future home of the wonderkid who mostly definitely was.


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