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Freddy Adu, ex-MLS star dubbed the ‘next Pele’ has signed for fishing village side Osterlen FF

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freddy adu ex mls star dubbed the next pele has signed for fishing village side osterlen ff

One-time wonderkid and former MLS star Freddy Adu has made an unexpected return to football by joining a third-tier Swedish team that is based in a small fishing village with a population of just 400 people. 

Adu made his MLS debut aged just 14 and was tipped to reach the very top of the game but he never hit the heights his prodigious talent deserved or demanded.

Now aged 31, the attacking midfielder reappeared on Wednesday after two years out by signing for Osterlen FF, which is based in the town of Brantevik in the far south east of Sweden.

Freddy Adu was tipped to be the 'next Pele' and was capped by the United States 17 times

Freddy Adu was tipped to be the 'next Pele' and was capped by the United States 17 times

Freddy Adu was tipped to be the ‘next Pele’ and was capped by the United States 17 times

ADU’S CAREER 

2004-06: DC United (USA)

2007: Real Salt Lake (USA)

2007-11: Benfica (Portugal)

2008-09: Monaco (France, loan)

2009: Belenenses (Portugal, loan)

2010: Aris (Greece, loan) 

2011: Caykur Rizesport (Turkey, loan)

2011-13: Philadelphia Union (USA)

2013: Bahia (Brazil)

2014: Jagodina (Bosia)

2015: KuPS (Finland)

2015: KuFu 98 (Finland, loan)

2015-16: Tampa Bay Rowdies (USA) 

2018: Las Vegas Lights

2020-: Osterlen FF  

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The move is the latest in a career that has spanned nine countries, taking in 15 clubs on three continents during 17 years.

The signing was accompanied by no fanfare with US journalist, Ives Galarcep, breaking the news on Twitter.

And Adu welcomed the deal in a couple of tweets.

‘Missed this sport so much and just happy to have the opportunity to be playing again, one step at a time,’ Adu said in his Tweet after joining Osterlen, who are currently top of the third tier in the Scandinavian country. 

‘Skipped a lot of steps in the past but now I get a chance to do it right. I’m excited and never been more ready!’

It was a far cry from how it all began when he became the youngest player ever to sign a professional contract in the US as he joined DC United aged 14, after he was picked in the 2014 MLS Superdraft.

Still just a teenager, he became the youngest MLS player when he came on as a substitute in a game against the San Jose Earthquakes, and then became the youngest scorer in MLS history, netting in a 3-2 loss to the MetroStars.

He was capped by the US at the age of 16, going on to earn 17 caps, with two goals, and had commentators rubbing their hands in excitement, predicting Adu would be the next Pele.

As his star rose stateside, Adu was linked with moves to Chelsea and Manchester United and was even pictured in United’s training gear at Carrington in 2006, but he did not have a work permit and youngster returned home. 

Instead, Adu signed for Real Salt Lake in 2007 before moving to Benfica in Portugal later that year for a fee of £1.35million.

However, he never realised his potential, or lived up to the expectation that his youthful emergence had created.

Adu played for the United States at senior, U17s, U20s (pictured against Brazil) and U23s levels

Adu played for the United States at senior, U17s, U20s (pictured against Brazil) and U23s levels

Adu played for the United States at senior, U17s, U20s (pictured against Brazil) and U23s levels

He struggled to make a lasting impression in Portugal and headed out on several loan spells, including to French side Monaco in 2008.

Adu returned to the United States in 2011 with Philadelphia Union and was there for two years, making 35 appearances and scoring seven times.

Adu signed for Benfica in Portugal but never established himself at the club

Adu signed for Benfica in Portugal but never established himself at the club

Adu signed for Benfica in Portugal but never established himself at the club

However, he was on his way again in 2013 and has since played for Bahia, a second-tier Brazilian side, Jagodina, a Serbian SuperLig club and KuPS in Finland’s Premier League, who sent him on loan to KuFu 98 in 2015.

In a bizarre incident in 2017, Adu was signed on trial for Polish club Sandecja Nowy Sacz, only for the coach, Radoslaw Mrockowski, to declare: ‘This is not my idea.’

Before adding: ‘I just heard someone picked him up from the airport.’

It didn’t work out.

Adu found his way back to the US and linked up with Tampa Bay Rowdies before moving on again to Murkowski the Las Vegas Lights in the USL Championship, where he ended a three-year goal drought, scoring in June 2018 on his 29th birthday.

However, that strike did not herald a return to form and Adu drifted out of the game just before Christmas that year. He went on to coach young players in the US city of Baltimore before re-emerging in Sweden, with Osterlen.

Adu undertook youth football coaching in Baltimore after he left the Las Vegas Lights

Adu undertook youth football coaching in Baltimore after he left the Las Vegas Lights

Adu undertook youth football coaching in Baltimore after he left the Las Vegas Lights

FREDDY ADU FACTFILE

Adu moved to the US as a result of the Green Card lottery, which his mother won when he was eight, allowing him and his family to move from Ghana.

He started his football career at DC United, after being drafted as the first overall pick in the 2004 MLS Superdraft aged just 14. Adu was the youngest player to ever be up for selection in the draft, and the youngest pick.

On April 3, just three months after the draft, Adu made his professional debut for DC United in their MLS opener against San Jose Earthquakes. In doing so he became the youngest player in the history of professional American sports.

Adu was drafted as the first overall pick in the MLS Superdraft 2014

Adu was drafted as the first overall pick in the MLS Superdraft 2014

Adu was drafted as the first overall pick in the MLS Superdraft 2014

Two weeks after his debut, Adu continued to make history, scoring his first professional goal away at the now disbanded MetroStars.

Adu finished his first season with 30 appearances, scoring five goals, as well as gaining an assist in the play-offs as DC United won the MLS Cup. Adu featured in the final, making a second half substitute appearance.

In 2005 Adu was nominated for the first FIFPRO Young player of the year, losing out to none other than Wayne Rooney. A year later Adu’s stock continued to rise, as he was voted into the MLS All-Star team for the second year running. 

After a stellar first season in MLS with DC United, Adu started to gain attention from abroad, and accepted a two-week trial with Manchester United. Unfortunately his work permit was declined and he was unable to play competitive games, and subsequently wasn’t taken on.

Adu moved onto Real Salt Lake in December 2006 ahead of the 2007 MLS season, where he lasted half a season before a transfer to Benfica.

Adu’s stint in Portugal lasted for four years, though he only made 11 appearances for the team. No less than four loan spells came in that time, with unsuccessful stints at Monaco, Belenenses, Aris and Caykur Rizespor.

At the end of Adu’s contract, he returned to MLS, signing with Philadelphia Union in 2011. He spent two years in Philadelphia, scoring seven goals in the process before joining Brazilian club Bahia. 

Adu was spotted at Manchester United's training ground in 2006

Adu was spotted at Manchester United's training ground in 2006

Adu was spotted at Manchester United’s training ground in 2006

After a string of unsuccessful trials, Adu signed an 18 month deal with FK Jagodina in 2014. He made one first team appearance before his contract was terminated. Adu moved to Finland, joinining KuPS, making five first team appearances and three for the side’s reserve team in the Finnish third division.

Four months after joining, KuPS released Adu, and he returned home to sign for the Tampa Bay Rowdies of the North American Soccer League. Adu made twelve appearances before being released again in 2016. 

Adu went on trial with Portland Timbers ahead of 2017 MLS season but fails to earn a contract.

 He found an opening with Tampa Bay Rowdies before moving on to Las Vegas Lights in the USL Championship.

After two years out of the game, Adu has turned up in a Swedish fishing village population 400 to play for Osterlen FF.

By Daniel Blackham

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Chris Robshaw was among 12 Barbarians players to ignore Covid rules ahead of England game

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chris robshaw was among 12 barbarians players to ignore covid rules ahead of england game

Chris Robshaw’s farewell appearance against England at Twickenham on Sunday is off after the former national captain was among a group of Barbarians players to breach Covid protocols.

The RFU revealed on Thursday night that an urgent review is under way to decide if England’s first fixture since lockdown can take place after 12 of the visitors’ squad left their London hotel without permission for dinner in a nearby restaurant.

Sportsmail understands that 34-year-old flanker Robshaw, who was due to appear at HQ before a move to the USA to play for San Diego, was among the dozen diners along with ex-England teammate Richard Wigglesworth.  

Chris Robshaw is said to be one of 12 Barbarians who broke Covid rules in London this week

Chris Robshaw is said to be one of 12 Barbarians who broke Covid rules in London this week

Chris Robshaw is said to be one of 12 Barbarians who broke Covid rules in London this week

England are due to face the Barbarians on Sunday but the match is in danger of being called off

England are due to face the Barbarians on Sunday but the match is in danger of being called off

England are due to face the Barbarians on Sunday but the match is in danger of being called off

Sources also indicated that rookie Bath back Tom De Glanville, who was released by England head coach Eddie Jones to play for the Barbarians, claimed that he had not left the hotel, but was identified by CCTV footage as being one of those who ventured out.  

When the RFU revealed outline details of this incident, there was widespread speculation about heavy drinking but Sportsmail has been told that the players merely went for dinner and were back in the hotel by 10pm.

However, an RFU security guard informed them they had breached guidelines and kept them away from team-mates and staff.

On Thursday, the union’s head of discipline, David Barnes attended the Barbarians’ base, the Grosvenor House Hotel on Park Lane, to take statements from all those concerned.

It is understood that new England prop Simon Kerrod and a large Fijian contingent did not leave the hotel — where the ballroom has been turned into a squad games and dining room.

Former England captain Robshaw was set to make farewell appearance at Twickenham

Former England captain Robshaw was set to make farewell appearance at Twickenham

Former England captain Robshaw was set to make farewell appearance at Twickenham

If it is confirmed on Friday that Robshaw has been withdrawn from the match it will see him denied a fitting send-off at the national stadium, having captained his country 43 times. 

Initial concerns that the non-cap game may have to be called off appeared to be receding on Thursday night as it is thought that the Barbarians have lined up replacements for most of the 12 players who will be stood down.

They have until 3pm on Friday to confirm they will be able to field a Covid-safe side.

Nevertheless, this is an embarrassing episode, as the RFU made clear. Their statement read: ‘Barbarian FC have expressed their extreme disappointment in the conduct of the players involved and have taken all necessary steps to ensure the safety of the players and staff within the bubble.’ 

It is thought Barbarians have lined up replacements for most of the 12 players to face England

It is thought Barbarians have lined up replacements for most of the 12 players to face England

It is thought Barbarians have lined up replacements for most of the 12 players to face England

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Lionel Messi hopes Cristiano Ronaldo will be able to play for Juventus in Champions League clash

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lionel messi hopes cristiano ronaldo will be able to play for juventus in champions league clash

Lionel Messi is hopeful his old foe Cristiano Ronaldo will be able to take part in Barcelona‘s Champions League clash against Juventus despite testing positive for coronavirus.

The 35-year-old forward has so often lead the way for the Turin giants and continued to defy his age, but may be absent from the mouthwatering clash due to returning a second positive test for the disease. 

Juventus are scrambling to ensure that Ronaldo will be available for selection should one final test come back negative – and Messi also appears keen to face off against him again in another ‘special’ match-up. 

Lionel Messi hopes Cristiano Ronaldo will be available for Juventus' clash against Barcelona

Lionel Messi hopes Cristiano Ronaldo will be available for Juventus' clash against Barcelona

Lionel Messi hopes Cristiano Ronaldo will be available for Juventus’ clash against Barcelona

The two historic rivals may meet again next week depending on Ronaldo's battle with Covid-19

The two historic rivals may meet again next week depending on Ronaldo's battle with Covid-19

The two historic rivals may meet again next week depending on Ronaldo’s battle with Covid-19

He told DAZN: ‘Obviously when Cristiano played for Real Madrid the games were special. Matches against them always are [special], but with Cristiano on the pitch they took on a particular significance.’ 

Ronaldo was doubtful despite initially contracting the virus while on international duty on October 13.

He immediately began a mandatory period of quarantine, and was forced to miss Juventus’ fixtures against Crotone and Dynamo Kiev while completing the quarantine.

Ronaldo has been forced into self-isolation after testing positive while on international duty

Ronaldo has been forced into self-isolation after testing positive while on international duty

Ronaldo has been forced into self-isolation after testing positive while on international duty

Andrea Pirlo’s side host Barcelona next Wednesday, and Ronaldo took a second test in the hope that he would be cleared to return and add another thrilling chapter to his encounters with Messi.

The former Manchester United man soon discovered he still had Covid-19, however, placing his spot in the game in serious jeopardy.

When questioned over his rivalry with Ronaldo during his trophy-laden days in Madrid, Messi added: ‘That is now in the past and we look forward to today’s challenges. 

‘Wednesday there could be this challenge and we hope Cristiano can be there and will soon recover from Covid. 

Messi and Ronaldo have not faced off in the Champions League since the 2011/12 campaign

Messi and Ronaldo have not faced off in the Champions League since the 2011/12 campaign

Messi and Ronaldo have not faced off in the Champions League since the 2011/12 campaign

‘The ones with Cristiano were and are a special duel which will remain forever. They last many years and it is not easy to maintain those levels for such a long time.

Our teams were also very demanding: Real Madrid and Barcelona, the two strongest clubs in the world.

‘Competing as equals for so many years is something that will remain forever. The duel between me and Cristiano was very good on a personal level and I think people enjoyed it.

‘The fans of Real, Barca, but in general all football fans, have seen a great show. We hope to give them even more emotions [on Wednesday].’ 

Both players have won 11 Ballon d'Or awards between them although Messi leads with six

Both players have won 11 Ballon d'Or awards between them although Messi leads with six

Both players have won 11 Ballon d’Or awards between them although Messi leads with six

The fierce debate over which of the two superstars can claim the title of the best player in the world, and perhaps in history, continues to rage on.

Both have won 11 Ballon d’Or awards between them, although Messi narrowly leads the way with a record amount of six. 

Juventus are hoping UEFA will grant them permission to test Ronaldo once again 48 hours before the European tie. The organisation’s protocols means that the player should have tested negative a week before the game in order to take part.

But his club have filed a medical report to UEFA that argues Ronaldo’s test showed a low viral load which, provided his test result on Friday is negative, should allow him to play.

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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England can wait for Exeter’s Big Chief! Rob Baxter has his sights set on an Exeter dynasty

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england can wait for exeters big chief rob baxter has his sights set on an exeter dynasty

For a decade now Rob Baxter has been Exeter’s undisputed Big Chief. As he showers his club with gold, collecting the most coveted prizes on offer, the question quickly becomes: what is next?

If Exeter beat Wasps on Saturday and add a second Premiership to a first European Cup won last week, would Baxter’s task of turning also-rans to the continent’s top club be complete?

And then would he look to test himself at the highest level with England?  

Richard Baxter and Rob Baxter (right) in action together for Exeter back in 2003

Richard Baxter and Rob Baxter (right) in action together for Exeter back in 2003

Richard Baxter and Rob Baxter (right) in action together for Exeter back in 2003

BAXTER BOYS

JOHN BAXTER 

Age: 76 Position: Lock 

Played for Exeter in the 1960s, helped recruit financier and now-chairman Tony Rowe in 1992, before becoming chairman and director.

ROB BAXTER 

Age: 49 Position: Lock

Played at Exeter between 1987 and 2005, and was captain for a decade before becoming a coach. Made head coach in 2009 and won Chiefs promotion to the Premiership in 2010, their first title in 2017 and first European Cup last weekend.

RICHIE BAXTER 

Age: 42 Position: No 8

Made senior debut in Division 2 in 1997 before retiring in 2013 a Premiership player. Holds the record of Chiefs appearances with 431.

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‘Right here and now, no,’ comes the definitive reply from the man himself.

Why?

‘Because I’m happy here,’ the 49-year-old adds.

And in three years’ time, when Eddie Jones has left?

‘Well, it would depend if I’m happy here,’ Baxter offers with a grin.

Question answered, for now.

This is not a matter of desire, though – far from it, according to his family.

‘I look at the ambition he has shown with Exeter,’ says his younger brother Richie, 42, who played a record 431 times at No 8 for the Chiefs.

‘And you think quite possibly that ambition would be there to go further on with England, if asked.

‘What he has achieved at Exeter, you need to be an ambitious person to do those kind of things.’ The Baxter family is the golden thread through Exeter’s journey.

Between Richie, Rob and their father John, now 76, the Baxters have played more than 1,000 games for the club stretching back 50 years – not counting the hundreds Rob has coached since taking charge in 2009.

Normally Exeter matches are a family reunion. Father John and mother Roberta, 73, come with Richie and his family, Rob’s wife Jo and their children.

But this time the celebrations after the European Cup win took place in Covid-safe pockets down on the 300-acre farm outside Exeter where all three families still live.

Richard Baxter (left) and Rob Baxter celebrate promotion to the Premiership in 2010

Richard Baxter (left) and Rob Baxter celebrate promotion to the Premiership in 2010

Richard Baxter (left) and Rob Baxter celebrate promotion to the Premiership in 2010

A ‘chinwag’ outside was all Rob could manage with his parents – who still work the farm themselves – although he did enjoy a few drinks with Jo.

‘We had a bit of a giggle, did a few silly things as you do,’ smiles Rob.

‘We managed to sing along to a few songs that we probably shouldn’t have sung along to. I can’t say what ones! It’s too embarrassing.’ Richie, who has heard his brother sing plenty of them first-hand chimes in: ‘He loves the karaoke!’ So did the younger sibling toast his brother with champagne?

‘Well, you’ll know it was a glass of cider!’ Richie quickly corrects.

‘I did have a couple to celebrate the win, but life has to go on. You’ve got to get on with things, especially on a farm.’ Cracking on is engrained on the Baxter psyche.

On Sunday morning Richie was back tending to his 500 sheep and 80 bullocks, which among other things provide chops and steaks for Burrows farm shop in town, before coaching his sons at Crediton RFC.

John Baxter (left) collects an award in recognition of his loyalty to Exeter Rugby Club

John Baxter (left) collects an award in recognition of his loyalty to Exeter Rugby Club

John Baxter (left) collects an award in recognition of his loyalty to Exeter Rugby Club

And Rob was already onto new challenges. Beyond Saturday’s match he has a lot to ponder.

Next year handfuls of his Chiefs will be taken away by England for 14 Premiership games, and will not be as fit for Europe after gruelling Tests.

He is driven seeing how far he can propel new stars – like Sam and Joe Simmonds – and wants loads of Lions, all while praying the new Sandy Park hotel gets built and fans come in soon to keep his club afloat in tough times.

‘They’re all fresh challenges to take on,’ Baxter says.

‘All of this won’t mean very much to me and my career at Exeter if we’re a club that fail financially in the next six months.

‘We’d look back on this and go “well that was the year that was and we never managed to do it again because of Covid-19.”’ That desire to keep going sums up Baxter as a second-row.

The Exeter boss will seek to add a second Premiership to a first European Cup won last week

The Exeter boss will seek to add a second Premiership to a first European Cup won last week

The Exeter boss will seek to add a second Premiership to a first European Cup won last week

Will James, a Devonian former Gloucester lock used to say of Baxter: ‘if you didn’t knock him out or kill him, he would keep coming back again and again.’ ‘That hits the nail on the head!’ laughs Richie, who made his Exeter debut against Fylde in 1997.

‘As a young lad it was pleasing to know you had a few guys to look after you! Rob always led from the front with a “follow-me” attitude. You need that..’ 

The brothers played together countless times for Exeter, all over the country in three different leagues, both represented the Barbarians and played for the English Divisions XV in the 2000s against the World Cup winning Australians and South Africa.

But it was the humble trips they enjoyed the most.

‘We’d finish work on a Friday afternoon about three o’clock and would have to get to Middlemoor for the bus,’ remembers Richie.

‘Our front-rower Keith Brooking would normally order a Chinese and we’d have that delivered to the hotel!

‘We played Orrell away once. It all got a bit tasty. Bob Armstrong (a well-known Devon hard-man) lost some teeth, the crowd joined in and all sorts!

‘At Waterloo you had to walk out through the bar to get the pitch. You think now “Cor that was good”. We made sure we had a good bus trip home.

‘Plymouth, Penzance – some of those local derbies had the physicality of a Premiership game.

‘Rob’s last was up north in Rotherham.’ Rob takes up: “We won. I scored a try didn’t I?” ‘I picked up and he bound on, took the ball off me, rolled off and scored,’ Richie completes the story of the 41-33 win in April 2005.

Exeter beat French side Racing 92 to lift their first Champions Cup title at Ashton Gate

Exeter beat French side Racing 92 to lift their first Champions Cup title at Ashton Gate

Exeter beat French side Racing 92 to lift their first Champions Cup title at Ashton Gate

What Rob did not remember, though, was that day the Rotherham centre on a hot day at Clifton Lane was Lee Blackett – his coaching adversary in Saturday’s Premiership Final against Wasps.

‘There’s no better time than when you were a player even when you’re winning Heineken Cups,’ Rob reminisces.

‘It was an emotional day – the boots came off and they never came back on, even for training.

‘It just shows you how times goes by.’ Rob Baxter does not have much time to reminisce. Not when relentlessly driving his Chiefs forward.

‘It’s long-term thinking,’ concludes Richie on his brother’s fine work.

‘It’s been 10 years, but every year we’ve got better.

‘No matter what the result this or last weekend we’re all incredibly proud of Rob’s achievements.

‘We’ll try and grab whatever time it is after this weekend for a reflection and a few beers in the garden.’ 

England can wait – in the Baxters’ eyes the foundation stones for an Exeter dynasty have only just been laid.

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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