Harry Kane beware: 10 young English forwards who never matched the hype
As Harry Kane continues to go from strength to strength, we look at some of the other English forwards who were supposedly destined for success, but never quite made it.
1) Danny Cadamarteri
The Everton striker burst onto the scene with an excellent goal against Arsenal in September 1997, and an even better one in the Merseyside derby the following month. Big things were expected of the striker, but he didn’t score in the rest of the 1997/98 season, and after a loan spell at Fulham, left the club in 2002. He would never play in the Premier League again.
2) Michael Bridges
Just like Kane, Bridges was 21 during his breakout season. The youngster arrived at Leeds in the summer of 1999, and having had a promising few years at Sunderland, really came to life at Elland Road under David O’Leary. He scored 19 goals in the 1999/00 season and was widely tipped for England honours. Unfortunately for Bridges, injuries severely hampered the rest of his career and he failed to net another goal for Leeds, before ending a nomadic career in Australia with the Newcastle Jets last year.
3) Matt Jansen
In the late 1990s, Jansen was one of the hottest properties in English football. Impressive displays for Carlisle earned the youngster a £1 million move to Premier League side Crystal Palace in February 1998, and less than a year later he was snapped up by Blackburn for £4.1m at the age of just 21. A mobile striker with a good eye for goal, Jansen was seen as a dead-cert for England, but despite being a consistently excellent option on Championship Manager, he never fulfilled his potential in real life. Injuries ravaged his time at Ewood Park, and after leaving for Bolton in 2006, Jansen retired from playing for eighth-tier outfit Chorley FC in 2010.
4) Francis Jeffers
An impressive first four years at Everton earned Jeffers an £8 million move to Arsenal in the summer of 2001 and led to Arsene Wenger infamously christening him a ‘fox in the box’. Unfortunately for Wenger, Jeffers showed very little by way of predatory instincts at Highbury and left the club three years later after eight goals and just four Premier League starts. Jeffers played for eight teams after leaving Arsenal, and retired in 2013 with only 19 more career goals to his name.
5) Michael Ricketts
A later starter than most in this list, Ricketts announced himself with an outstanding first half to the 2001-02 season, where he netted 15 goals for Bolton by mid-January. At the age of 23 Ricketts was promptly called up by England after his scoring streak, and in February 2002 lined up for the national team against Holland, but was taken off at half-time after an anonymous display. He would never play for his country again, and failed to score for the rest of the season. He went on to move to Middlesbrough in January 2003, but after scoring just four times in 38 matches was shipped out to Leeds, before playing for eight clubs in six years and retiring in 2010 playing for Tranmere.
6) Neil Mellor
When Neil Mellor scored in the League Cup against Sheffield United in January 2003, the over-excited Sky Sports commentator said "introducing Liverpool’s latest goal machine". Mellor, it was assumed, would soon enough become the new Robbie Fowler or Michael Owen and establish himself as a key player for the Anfield club. It never quite happened for Mellor though, and aside from a wonder goal against Arsenal in Novermber 2004, the striker achieved little of note at Liverpool, and left in 2006 resembling a man who had eaten Steven Gerrard. Mellor would only play professional football for five more years and quit the game in 2011, aged 28.
7) David Bentley
A stunning Dennis Bergkamp-esque chip for Arsenal against Middlesbrough in January 2004 had the Highbury faithful purring, and Bentley was seen by many as the Dutchman’s natural successor. Bentley though was never trusted in his preferred No 10 role, and after a loan spell at Norwich, left for Blackburn (initially on loan) in August 2005. By now more of an orthodox winger, Bentley impressed at Ewood Park and was signed by Tottenham for £15 million in July 2008. Only able to produce in fits and starts for Spurs, Bentley was sent out on loan on four occasions and retired in 2014 at the age of 29, having been without a club for a year.
8) James Vaughan
Another striker off the Everton production line, who rather than becoming the new Wayne Rooney, didn’t quite make the grade. Vaughan became the Premier League’s youngest ever goalscorer in April 2005 with a goal against Crystal Palace, but injuries meant he could never establish himself as a Goodison Park regular. Now at Huddersfield after a flurry of loan spells, Vaughan is playing reasonably regularly, but greater heights were undoubtedly expected of the striker ten years ago.
9) Andy Carroll
As a 21-year-old, Carroll scored 11 goals for Newcastle before the turn of the year in the 2010-11 season, earning himself an England cap and comparisons to fellow Geordie Alan Shearer. Kenny Dalglish was so impressed by the youngster that he spent £35 million on bringing Carroll to Liverpool in January 2011. The big forward never quite settled at Anfield though, and left for West Ham (initially on loan) a year-and-a-half later. Carroll has been a solid signing for West Ham and has two England goals and nine caps to his name, but a good option for a mid-table Premier League team is quite a fall from being a £35 million Liverpool striker just four years ago.
10) Ravel Morrison
Sir Alex Ferguson thought Morrison was the best 14-year-old he’d ever seen, and it seemed just a matter of time before he became a permanent fixture for club and country. A series of misdemeanours however led to United selling the player to West Ham, where he once again let himself down off the pitch and after loan spells at QPR and Cardiff, the 22-year-old now finds himself without a club but set to join Lazio in the summer.