Cult 00s Footballers: Where Are They Now?

Remember ex-Inter Milan prodigy Ben Greenhalgh? What do you mean "no"?
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Remember ex-Inter Milan prodigy Ben Greenhalgh? What do you mean "no"?

Some young players fulfil their potential and have very prosperous careers, but we're not interested in that; we want to hear about those that have seen their careers crash and burn, because more often than not, the sadistic part of football fans find it really, really funny.

1. Kerlon

You probably know him as "seal boy" or "the Brazilian kid who dribbled with the ball whilst bouncing it on his head". Kerlon was once regarded as one of the brightest prospects in Europe. Kerlon signed for Inter Milan in 2008, and many predicted this would kick-start his career. They were wrong. Following a series of unsuccessful loan spells, Kerlon was released by Inter Milan in 2012 without playing a league game for the club. He signed for Japanese side Fujieda MYFC, who reside in the third tier of Japanese Football shortly after being released. 22 league games and 9 league goals later, Kerlon was released by Fujieda MYFC in January, and he remains a free agent.

2. Kerrea Gilbert

(Sorry, it was the closest to a 'best bits' compilation we could find)

A name that may ring a few bells with Arsenal fans, the highlight of Kerrea Gilbert's Arsenal career was probably providing an assist for Thierry Henry against Wigan in a League Cup semi final. Following four loan spells at different clubs (three in the Championship), Gilbert was released by Arsenal, but it was thought that, like many players released from Premier League teams, he would be able to forge a decent career in the Football League. Wrong. His move to play for Portland Timbers in the MLS didn't go through, as his Visa was denied due to the fact he had been arrested in Britain for being drunk and disorderly. (Gilbert's love of the night-life didn't go down well with Arsene Wenger). He was signed by Yeovil in 2011, but was released after playing just 9 league games for the club. He moved to Irish Champions Shamrock Rovers, and after being released by them in 2012, he moved to Maidenhead United in 2013, but even they released him.

Gilbert currently plays for St Albans United in the Conference South and is training to become a fitness instructor.

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3. Dong Fangzho

Dong signed for Manchester United in 2004 for half a million pounds, becoming the first East Asian to play for the club in the process. His record in China wasn't particularly impressive, scoring just twice in twenty-seven league appearances. He was loaned to Antwerp for a few years in order to gain a work permit, and he actually did quite well. After 34 goals in 71 league games, he was finally eligible to play.

He played a few times competitively for Manchester United following his return in 2007, and even scored in a friendly. But in 2008, his contract was terminated by the club without much by way of fan protest. He the played in China for Dalian Shide, but he was relegated to the reserves, and the same thing happened when he signed for Legia Warsaw. Following spells in the lower leagues of Portugal and Armenia, Fangzho, 29 currently plays his football in the Chinese second division for Hebei Zhongji.

4. Dan Smith

[No video, because f*** Dan Smith]

Known to Arsenal fans as "that bell-end that ruined Abou Diaby", Dan Smith's career hasn't exactly gone to plan. Smith was sent off on his Sunderland debut in 2004, and it was in his final Sunderland appearance in 2006 where he was red carded for his horror challenge on Abou Diaby. Smith spent time in the SPL with Aberdeen and St Johnstone, before several short term contracts at various non league clubs. He currently plays for Holland Park Hawkes, who reside in the lower leagues in Australia. Karma, eh?

5. Francis Jeffers

Jeffers has had a career in the Football League, but he promised so much more. Signed by Arsenal for £8 million, and infamously dubbed the "fox in the box" by Arsene Wenger, his career never took off at Arsenal. 3 goals in 48 Premier League appearances after Arsenal let him go suggests that he wasn't really cut out for that level. He had experienced success at Everton, but even in his first spell there, he fell out with Walter Smith, as Jeffers wanted more money. Released by Sheffield Wednesday in 2010, he's since had spells in Scotland, Australia and Malta and is currently a free agent. He has played, and scored, for England in a 3-1 horror-loss to Australia at Upton Park. He also lived next door to my Grandfather, and was apparently a complete Arse. So, ha.

6. Ben Greenhalgh

That's right, THE Ben Greenhalgh, winner of Football's Next Star 2010. Inter Milan were actually impressed by the Ronaldo-wannabe, extremely Christian winger, and gave him a further 1 year contract after his original expired. His impact in Italian football was unfortunately limited to a loan spell at Calcio Come, who he went on loan to, scoring 8 goals in 12 games in Serie C1. Greenhalgh wasn't offered a further extension however, and following spells in English non league and a brief stint at Inverness Caledonian Thistle, Greenhalgh is a free agent.

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