Flashback: Football Manager Prodigies who did not make it in Real Life

Does the name Tonton Zola Moukoko sound familiar to you? How about Cherno Samba? Or Kennedy Bakircioglu? If they do, then make no doubt about it. You are a closet Championship manager fan. 

FF Titan takes a look at where some of the Championship Manager (CM) prodigies have actually ended up in their real life playing career. Read on to find out more. 


1. Tonton Zola Moukoko (Derby) – Position: Attacking midfielder

The 15 year old Congolese caught the eye of many big European clubs including AC Milan whilst playing for Swedish based Djurgardens but he opted for little known Derby County to continue his footballing career. It was there in Derby whilst featuring for them in the FA Youth Cup where he caught the eye of the CM scouts who added him to their database and touted him as a future star. He was given very strong attacking attributes and developed for many into a CM version of Lionel Messi. In real life though, he never got over the death of his elder brother and never managed to kick professional football for Derby before his contract was terminated by mutual consent. Subsequent stints with Swedish and Finnish clubs did not lead to any better fortune and eventually he retired where at 34 years old today, he is now the manager of Swedish non-league club Kongo United.


2. Cherno Samba (Millwall) – Position: Striker

Gambian born Cherno Samba actually had a very impressive youth career having represented England at every youth level all the way up until he was 20. There was even rumours that Michael Owen called him personally urging him to sign for Liverpool and Millwall turned down a £2 million offer from Liverpool. It was little surprise then when he was featured in CM with very good statistics and was almost on every wonderkid’s list given that he was also available for cheap. Unlike Moukoko, Samba did manage to have a bit of a professional career and featured for Millwall for 2 years before falling down the ranks and getting sold to Spanish second division club Cadiz. He subsequently then went through a journey at lower division sides, greece, norway and gambia before retiring at the relatively young age of 30 due to injuries. The only highlight for Samba was probably of his decision to represent his birth country Gambia and scoring for them once.

3. Kennedy Bakircioglu (Assyriska) – Position: Right Midfielder

If you weren’t able to afford David Beckham, then you would go to Sweden to pick up Bakircioglu. He started his career at Swedish second division club Assyriska very strongly and was very soon a regular starter at only a tender age of 15. To be fair to Bakircioglu, whilst he did not manage to fulfill his full potential, he was still a regular starter at various clubs including Hammarby, Ajax and Racing Santander. The biggest regret he had was failing to impress enough at a Manchester United trial to win a contract. In fact, the regret had such a big impact on Bakircioglu that he has revealed before that he spent his time playing Championship Manager in an attempt to live out his dream of what his life might have been had he been snapped up by the Red Devils. Eerie isn’t it? Bakircioglu is currently still active and has returned to play for one of his first clubs Hammarby and is their club captain.

4. Andri Sigþórsson (KR) – Position: Striker

One of the stars of CM 3, Sigþórsson was actually given the maximum potential value of 200 and was probably the most famous Icelandic footballer for CM fans before the recent success of the Icelandic football team. In real life though, he did have a relatively successful footballing career in Iceland but never really made it big outside despite having stints with Bayern Munich and also in Austria with SV Salzburg. He has since retired from football and is supposed to have opened a bakery in Molde.

5. Mark Kerr (Falkirk) – Position: Centre Midfielder

One of the best Scottish talents to grace the CM game, Kerr was an all rounder and had amazing stats in the CM game and was also available on the cheap from Falkirk. Whilst Kerr would go and become one of the best midfield players in CM, the real-life Kerr had a more modest career playing in both Scotland and Greece. Kerr is actually still playing in real life and have returned to his original club Falkirk for a second stint.

6. Maxim Tsigalko (Dinamo Minsk) – Position: Striker

In the game, Tsigalko (or actually Maksim Tsyhalka as he’s known in real-life) was a must-buy with excellent finishing stats and form. Like his fellow compatriot Alexander Hleb, the Belarusian would be snapped up by Barcelona and go on to have a very successful club and international career. In reality, Maksim spent all his career in Belarus and was unfortunate to suffer from persistent injuries which prompted him to retire early at the young age of 26. Not much is known of him at the moment except that his brother Yuri Tsigalko who was also a CM legend was actually still playing as a goalkeeper at a professional level in Belarus all the way up till last year when he retired.

7. Freddy Adu (DC United) – Position: Attacking Midfielder

Only 14 years old when he was first featured in CM, Freddy Adu is one of those players where he was so heavily touted to be a future star that it seemed like the weight of all expectations proved to be too much for him to take. Even before he signed his first contract with DC United, Adu has been touted in real life to be the next superstar of United States football and was to be the next Pele. He was skillful but also bigger sized than most of his peers at his age, but a big money move to Benfica didn’t turn out well for him. Adu then became a journeyman and played in 8 different countries for 13 different clubs in the last decade. Now still only 28 years old, Adu was last heard going for trials at Polish side Sandeca Nowy Sacz.



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About FF Hobbit 64 Articles
Ff_hobbit is an avid football and fantasy football fan who simply can't make up his mind. Torn between his love for 2 football clubs amidst other interests, he has a dogged determination to do well in whatever he does. Unfortunately, fantasy football fame has eluded him thus far.

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