Who is Freddy Adu?
Freddy Adu is a famous American soccer player who started playing internationally at the age of 14. Playing primarily as an attacking midfielder, and sometimes as a forward or winger, he has several records in Major League Soccer and international youth football to his name. In 2004, he became the youngest American to sign a major league professional contract when he joined D.C. United in the MLS SuperDraft. Later, he became the youngest player to appear in an MLS game and score a goal, prompting news outlets to call him "the next Pelé". He also represented the US national youth team in three FIFA U-20 World Cups and the 2008 Summer Olympics. He later helped the US senior team finish as runners-up in the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup and two CONCACAF Gold Cups. However, he failed to live up to the expectations in club football and moved from team to team, giving average performances. He has played for 13 clubs from eight different countries in a span of 15 years.
Childhood & Early Life
Fredua Koranteng 'Freddy' Adu was born on June 2, 1989 in the seaport town of Tema, Ghana, in West Africa. His parents, Maxwell and Emelia Adu, ran a local convenience store.
In 1997, in the hope of providing better education to him and his brother, his parents participated in an immigration lottery through the U.S. embassy in Ghana. Upon winning it, they relocated to Potomac, Maryland, near Washington, D.C. Unfortunately, his father abandoned his family soon after, which forced his mother to work more than 70 hours a week at two jobs in order to support her family.
Studying at The Heights School, Adu surprised children at his school playground with his impressive skills. When he was in the fourth grade, he was invited to play in a tournament hosted by the Potomac Soccer Association. While playing there, he was spotted by Arnold Tarzy, the coach of the Potomac soccer team, Cougars.
On Tarzy’s suggestion, 10-year-old Freddy traveled with the U.S. Olympic Development Program to play in an under-14 tournament against youth teams of prestigious Italian clubs. He not only helped his team win the competition, but was also named the Most Valuable Player for scoring most points.
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In 2004, 14 years old Freddy Adu was specifically assigned to D.C. United as the number one overall pick in the MLS SuperDraft. He became the youngest American ever to sign a major league professional contract, as well as the highest-paid player.
Later, he became the youngest US professional player ever by appearing as a second-half substitute in United's first game of the season against the San Jose Earthquakes on April 3, 2004. Two weeks later, he became the youngest player in MLS history to score a goal.
Starting with five goals and three assists in 30 appearances during his debut season, Adu went on to score 11 goals in 87 games during his stint with D.C. United, which lasted in 2006. He had a fortnight-long trial with English club Manchester United, but lacking a work permit, he could not play there competitively.
He was traded with Real Salt Lake on December 11, 2006. He played for full 90-minutes in his debut match against FC Dallas on April 7, 2007. He scored his first goal for the club, from a penalty kick, against the same opponent on May 20. He later scored another goal from a penalty during an exhibition match against Boca Juniors.
Impressed by Adu’s performance in the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup, the Portuguese Liga club Benfica arranged for his transfer from MLS for $2 million. He scored two goals for Benfica during his four-season stay there, even though he played for other clubs on loans most of the time.
He played on loan for the French club AS Monaco in 2008-09, the Portuguese club Belenenses in 2009, the Greek club Aris in 2010, and the Turkish Second Division side Çaykur Rizespor in 2011. During this time, he scored a goal for Aris and three goals for Çaykur Rizespor, and became 'Man of the Match' for assisting in two goals in Rizespor's match against Orduspor.
Adu returned to MLS in August 2011 and signed with Philadelphia Union where he played under Piotr Nowak, who had been his former coach at D.C. United and the United States national U-23 team as well. He stayed with the club for two seasons and scored 7 goals from 35 appearances.
In 2013, he was signed to Brazilian club Bahia from April 5 to November 7, following which he began trials at several European clubs. Throughout 2014, he trained with English club Blackpool, Norwegian club Stabæk and Dutch club AZ Alkmaar; but failed to secure a deal with any of them.
Adu finally managed to sign an 18-month contract with Serbian club FK Jagodina on July 24, 2014, but made only one appearance for the club until he was released in December. He signed a one-year contract with Finnish club KuPS on March 28, 2015, but terminated his contract in July to join North American Soccer League side Tampa Bay Rowdies.
Following a goalless season with his 12th professional club, Adu unsuccessfully trialed for the MLD club Portland Timbers and the Polish Ekstraklasa side Sandecja Nowy Sącz. He finally joined Las Vegas Lights FC on a trial basis before the 2018 season and assisted in a goal on his first appearance, but was released at the end of the season.
Freddy Adu first represented the US national U-17 team at the age of 14 in the 2003 FIFA U-17 World Championship in Finland. He later played in the 2003 FIFA World Youth Championship in the United Arab Emirates. Two years later, he participated in the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship in the Netherlands.
He led the United States men's national U-20 team in the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup, in which he scored a hat-trick. He also helped the U-23 men's national team qualify for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China, but got eliminated at the group stage.
Despite having the option of joining the Ghanaian national team, he debuted for the senior US team as its youngest player ever in a friendly match against Canada. He represented the US national team in the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup, CONCACAF Gold Cups in 2009 and 2011, and the qualifiers for the 2010 World Cup.
Awards & Achievements
At 14, Freddy Adu became the youngest player to sign a professional contract, the youngest player to appear in a Major League Soccer game, and the youngest MLS scorer.
He became the second player in the world to play in three FIFA U-20 World Cups and the first player to score a hattrick in both the U-17 and U-20 World Cups.
Family & Personal Life
Freddy Adu reportedly dated British singer Keisha Buchanan for three years in the early 2000s and was involved in a year-long relationship with American singer JoJo from May 2005 onwards. Despite their split, he remained friends with JoJo. He began dating Canadian actress Shadia Simmons in 2008.
Even at 12 years of age, Freddy Adu was thought to have the potential of a professional player by Italian club Inter Milan. However, his parents did not want to send him to Italy.