Freddy Adu seeks fresh start
Former child prodigy Freddy Adu admits he has been a victim of his own hype but is determined to get his career back on track after training with Blackpool.
The forward, now 24, shot to prominence 10 years ago when he became the youngest ever player to appear in a United States professional sport for DC United in Major League Soccer after being selected with the number one overall pick in that year's draft.
A trial with Manchester United followed for the teenager once dubbed "the next Pele" but Adu failed to reach the lofty expectations set for him by the American media.
After disappointing spells in Portugal, France, Turkey and Brazil, Adu has been training in England with Sky Bet Championship club Blackpool.
"I'm really not in a rush to get anything done right this second but I need to make the right decision for my career," Adu said in an interview with Tangerines TV.
"I haven't always made the right decisions as far as choices of teams I've gone to in the past. That's why when I heard of this opportunity I wanted to come here check it out, see if it fits, see how it is."
Adu, who has collected 17 caps for his country, is thankful he is still young enough to potentially have a fruitful career in the game despite squandering previous opportunities.
He added: "I'm only 24 now and it's actually 10 years in March when I made my debut (for DC United). So, yes, man it's been a long time!
"I've learned a lot through that journey, there's been good times and there's been bad times. I'm glad that I experienced that at such a young age that, being 24 now, I'm still young enough to correct a lot of the mistakes I made.
"It was a lot of pressure, it really was. As a 14, 15, 16-year-old you're young, you're immature, you kind of get caught up in that a little bit. Thankfully I had my family and my friends and I had the right people around me to steer me in the right direction because there was a point when I did get caught up in it.
"Maybe I wasn't training as hard as I should have. It hurt me, it hurt my development.
"What most people don't know is that I decided to go professional because my family was real poor. At that point my mum, she was a single mother working two jobs, three jobs and what am I going to do? Say no to millions of dollars at that age while my family struggles? No."
The Seasiders, still without a permanent manager since Paul Ince was sacked in January, raised lots of eyebrows when it emerged Adu was training with them in late January.
Explaining how it came about, the player added: "I've loved it. The guys have been great, the coaches have been great, they've all welcomed me.
"I'm happy here. I'm learning a lot, the training here is very intense. It's different to what I'm used to and I absolutely love it because that's what I need as a player.
"It was just an opportunity that came by. The staff here had a mutual friend with my agent. To get a chance to come here and train in England is something that I won't pass up.
"It'll be a dream come true to play here some day. I don't know when that'll be but I'll do whatever it takes to make that happen."
For now, though, Adu's name is perhaps more synonymous with many fans for his brilliance in the virtual gaming world.
"I get a lot of tweets calling me a 'Football Manager legend'," he said of the popular game.
"I'm like, man, I wish it was like that in real life! That's cool. I personally never played that but I've got a lot of friends who did and they tell me about that."