5 British Stars That Never Reached Their Potential

We profile five talented British footballers who failed to live up to expectations.

Ravel Morrison

There is often huge hype around British youngsters when they break onto the football scene and there has been a fair degree of success for these ‘wonderkids’ over the years, but the story doesn’t always end up good for certain individuals.

Here, we have taken a look at five British footballers who never reached the levels expected of them when strutting their stuff.

5) Jack Wilshere

On first glance, seeing the name of Wilshere may come as a surprise but there has been enough disappointment throughout his career to argue he never quite hit the lofty heights expected of him.

The 29-year-old made his way through Arsenal’s youth ranks before making his senior debut in 2008 against Blackburn Rovers as an 84th-minute substitute at the age of 16 years and 256 days, making him the club’s youngest-ever league debutant.

Wilshere was being touted as the next Paul Gascoigne due to his superb individual ability with the ball at his feet and how effortlessly he glided across the turf, but a career full of injuries ultimately stopped him from fulfilling his potential.

The midfielder, who has been capped 34 times for the Three Lions, only won three trophies during his time at the Emirates and he is currently training with Bournemouth has he goes in search of finding a new club.

4) David Bentley

Bentley showed fantastic promise as a youngster, having stood out as a top prospect when coming through Arsenal’s youth academy, before enjoying two years at Blackburn Rovers where he really caught the eye.

Touted as the heir to David Beckham on the right side of England’s midfield, perhaps the Peterborough-born ace began to believe the hype but his career would take a huge nosedive following his switch to Tottenham in 2008.

Bentley struggled to replicate the kind of performances witnessed at Ewood Park and, after being sent out on loan during his time at Spurs, he eventually retired from the game in 2014.

3) Francis Jeffers

Jeffers seems destined for big things after catching the eye at Everton, where he made his first-team debut at the age of 16 and also won the 1997/98 FA Youth Cup with the Toffees.


The 39-year-old earned a move to Arsenal in the summer of 2001 – £8million being forked out – and Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger had huge hopes the ‘fox in the box’ would prove to be a wonder signing.

Alas, this did not happen and after scoring a miserly four foals in three years for the Gunners, Jeffers was shipped off to Everton before spending further time in England, Scotland, Australia and Malta, eventually retiring in 2013 after a spell with Accrington.

Jeffers’ signing was a financial gamble that certainly didn’t come off for Arsenal.

2) Jermaine Pennant

Arsenal decided to fork out £2m to sign 15-year-old Jermaine Pennant from Notts County in 1999 – a record transfer fee for a trainee at the time – and the early signs looked promising.

However, the winger failed to kick on to the next level with the Gunners and not only were his performances on the pitch being questioned, but his attitude in training was a concern, amid reports he had a history of turning up late to training.

Pennant did still manage to get a move to Liverpool, playing for them from 2006-09, but he never really hit the heights expected of him and his last action as a footballer was a spell with Billericay Town in 2017.

The Englishman never managed to earn a senior cap for his country and his career, to many, will be a story of what could have been.

1) Ravel Morrison

When you get described as the English version of Zinedine Zidane, there is every chance you are set for a successful career but, for Morrison, his has been a story of setback after setback.

Morrison was part of the Manchester United side that won the FA Youth Cup in 2011 alongside Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard, whose careers have taken very different trajectories.

Sir Alex Ferguson had huge hopes for Morrison, who was thought to be more talented than the likes of Wayne Rooney, but persistent disciplinary problems forced the Red Devils to let him go.

The 27-year-old has had failed spells at West Ham United, Lazio and Sheffield United, along with various loan moves, and his story definitely shows just how easy it can be to buckle under pressure at a young age.

Morrison is currently plying his trade with Dutch outfit ADO Den Haag and he does seem a lot happier in life, but his career could have been one filled with silverware and greatness.

A single-handicapper, James always offers an interesting insight to the world of golf, with extensive knowledge of both the US and European Tours. James also has a wealth of information about the domestic and international football scene.
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