Footballers who had a trial: Before the world knew them as football superstars, many players embarked on a journey filled with trials at different clubs, often flying under the radar.
Footballers who had a trial
In this blog post, we’ll unveil some remarkable stories of footballers who underwent trials at unexpected clubs. From Kylian Mbappe to Christian Eriksen, their paths to glory were paved with auditions that might surprise you.
1. Kylian Mbappé
Kylian Mbappe, currently among the elite footballers on the global stage, has risen to prominence with notable achievements, including a World Cup final hat-trick and the coveted World Cup title. However, many years ago, at the tender age of 12, he embarked on a quest to secure a club willing to offer him a chance. This journey led him away from his native France to the vibrant city of London, where he sought an opportunity to showcase his skills with a trial at Chelsea.
Mbappe’s sojourn with Chelsea spanned just a brief period, culminating in a friendly match against Charlton Athletic. Astonishingly, his performance left him brimming with confidence, to the extent that he proudly sported a Chelsea jersey, personalized with his name on the back. Nevertheless, Chelsea delivered an unexpected blow by opting to decline his services
It’s equally astonishing that someone as talented as Pedri could face rejection, yet that’s precisely what occurred at Real Madrid. Before eventually signing with Barcelona, this prodigious player, awarded the prestigious 2021 Golden Boy accolade, ventured to Real Madrid for a trial. In a rather surprising turn of events, the club conveyed that he didn’t meet the necessary standards.
It must undoubtedly be a point of regret for Real Madrid to witness Pedri’s outstanding contributions week in and week out for their fierce rivals, Barcelona
3. Fede Valverde
Fede Valverde, a player who seemingly came close to donning the Arsenal jersey early in his career, disclosed this intriguing chapter in his football journey.
Valverde shared this revelation prior to a match between Uruguay and Chile, recalling his training experience with Arsenal, during which he received warm hospitality from none other than Alexis Sanchez. The intriguing details of this period remain undisclosed, leaving us curious about the inner workings of this potential deal. It’s worth noting that under Arsene Wenger’s tenure, the prospect of letting go of a top-tier talent like Valverde would indeed have been an unusual choice
4. Ivan Rakitic
Ivan Rakitic, the Croatian midfielder, ventured for a trial at Arsenal in 2004, even participating in an unofficial match against Ajax. However, despite his involvement, Arsenal did not extend an invitation for a return.
One might humorously say that Arsenal was riding the wave of their remarkable success at the time. The year 2004 witnessed their invincible run in the Premier League, which undoubtedly instilled a sense of invulnerability. This period of supremacy might have led them to believe that they had little need for a promising young talent like Rakitic.
5. Gabriel Martinelli
As a young prospect, Gabriel Martinelli had the opportunity to potentially join Manchester United, but Arsenal ultimately won the tug-of-war for his talents.
Martinelli even has photographic proof of his visit to Old Trafford, including pictures with Paul Pogba as testament to this intriguing chapter in his journey.
Interestingly, the talented Brazilian winger also tried out at Barcelona, though the Catalan club chose not to seize the opportunity. In hindsight, it’s clear that Barcelona missed out on a burgeoning star
6. Mario Balotelli
At the tender age of 15, Mario Balotelli underwent a trial at Barcelona, although it did not yield the desired success. Following Barcelona’s rejection, Balotelli subsequently found his footballing home at Inter Milan.
Taking into account Barcelona’s consistent history of featuring superstar, lethal strikers, it’s safe to assume that they don’t harbor any regrets concerning their decision in this particular instance.
7. Yaya Toure
Continuing the theme of Barcelona, Yaya Toure, a former Barcelona player, came remarkably close to joining Arsenal during the initial stages of his career. Notably, his older brother, Kolo, was already an established Arsenal player, making this potential move appear fitting.
Yaya embarked on a trial with Arsenal, though, to be candid, the outcome was far from ideal. His performance included a missed opportunity that might have been pivotal, leading Arsene Wenger to describe it as “completely average.” Additionally, securing a work permit presented formidable challenges, ultimately resulting in Arsenal opting to part ways with him.
8. Emile Smith Rowe
The midfielder, Emile Smith Rowe, once pursued a trial opportunity with Chelsea in the past. However, Chelsea, in a rather surprising twist, declined him, citing his stature as the reason, deeming him ‘too small.
Nevertheless, Arsenal recognized Smith Rowe’s potential and promptly expressed their interest in him. Interestingly, Tottenham Hotspur also made a bid for his services, attempting to secure his signature. Ultimately, Smith Rowe opted to remain loyal to Arsenal, and today, he proudly wears the coveted number 10 jersey for the club.
9. Steven Gerrard
In a truly astonishing twist, Steven Gerrard, a true Liverpool legend and their former captain, once underwent a trial at Manchester United. It’s a revelation that might boggle the minds of football enthusiasts, given the fierce rivalry between the two clubs.
What makes this story even more astounding is that Gerrard was already a Liverpool player at the time he ventured to Old Trafford for the trial. He made it clear that his motive was not rooted in a desire to leave Liverpool; rather, he simply wanted to experience the sensation of playing for a different club.
10. John Terry
It’s almost uncanny how Manchester United seemed to have a knack for almost acquiring football legends, as evidenced by their close encounter with John Terry. Chelsea fans lovingly refer to Terry as “Captain. Leader. Legend,” and, surprisingly, he pursued a trial opportunity at Manchester United before eventually joining Chelsea.
Adding to the intrigue, despite being a London native, John Terry’s father expressed a preference for him to join Manchester United. However, Terry made an independent choice that proved to be pivotal in his life – he opted to don the Chelsea jersey, a decision that ultimately shaped his illustrious career.
11. Christian Eriksen
The tale of Christian Eriksen is undeniably intriguing, as it comes full circle in an unexpected fashion. Not widely known, but Eriksen once ventured into a trial at Manchester United before his rise to stardom. Impressively, he left a lasting impact during this trial, yet in 2008, he chose to embark on a journey with Ajax.
After subsequent stints in the Netherlands, England, Italy, and a return to England, Christian Eriksen’s journey culminated in 2022 when he joined Manchester United. It’s a full-circle narrative, underscoring the unpredictability of a footballer’s career.
Eriksen’s story becomes even more fascinating when you consider the number of prominent clubs he trialed with, including Chelsea, AC Milan, Real Madrid, and Barcelona. Remarkably, it wasn’t a matter of these clubs rejecting him; rather, Eriksen deliberately chose not to make a significant leap during that phase of his career. In retrospect, opting for Ajax at that juncture proved to be an exceptionally astute decision.
At this point, it almost feels as if the entire world has taken a trial at Manchester United at some stage. It’s a reminder that many unexpected talents have come through the ranks, and you might even discover that your parents have had their own undisclosed trials with the club – a testament to the rich tapestry of football’s untold stories.
12. Freddy Adu
The promising Ghanaian-American forward was heralded as the sport’s next big sensation, a label that carried high expectations. At one point, he was even anointed as the “next Pele” due to his immense potential. Sir Alex Ferguson, the renowned manager of Manchester United, extended an invitation for him to trial at the club, foreseeing great promise.
However, the trial didn’t quite yield the anticipated results. Unfortunately, he failed to make the impression that was hoped for during his time at Manchester United.
In an intriguing twist, during his stay at the club, Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the game’s iconic figures, displayed remarkable kindness towards him. Ronaldo not only offered assistance with his needs but also extended an invitation for dinner and a tour of the city.
While the trial might not have translated into a lasting career at Manchester United, it did lead to an extraordinary opportunity. Meeting and conversing with a footballing legend like Ronaldo is an experience that countless individuals could only dream of, making it a cherished memory for the young player.
These untold stories of football trials shed light on the unpredictable journeys that even the most celebrated players have endured. Football history is rich with surprising auditions that have shaped the careers of future legends.
If you know of any other players with hidden trials, feel free to share them in the comments below.