Freddy Adu made sports headlines in 2004 when he became the youngest player to sign a major league contract in 115 years.
“I don’t want people to remember me as a 14-year-old ‘wonderkid.’ I want people to remember me as a great footballer and as someone who gave it their all.”
Born in 1989, in Tema, Ghana, Freddy Adu started playing soccer as a child. He came to the United States with his family at the age of 8. Before long, Adu established himself as one of the leading young players in the country. He was invited to join the national under 17 team when he was only 12 years old. In 2004, at age 14, Adu became the youngest player in 115 years to sign a major league contract, joining DC United. In 2007, he joined Europe’s Benfica. But his team ended up loaning him out to other European clubs over the coming years. In 2011, Adu signed up with Philadelphia Union. The team dropped him in 2013. Adu has since signed with Esporta Clube Bahia in Brazil.
Born in Tema, Ghana, on June 2, 1989, Freddy Adu is a professional soccer player. He was hailed has the next Pele early in his career. Adu started playing as a toddler and began competing in neighborhood games four years later. “I never went a day without playing,” Adu wrote on his website. “I was always playing.”
His family moved to the United States in 1994, settling in Potomac, Maryland. Abu’s extraordinary soccer skills soon became apparent. He played in a tournament in Italy through the U.S. Olympic Development Program when he was 10 years old.
Two years later, Adu was invited to join the country’s under-17 team. He was the youngest member on the team. As a part of the team, Adu went to school and continued his training at the IMG Academies in Bradenton, Florida. This talented player was also a gifted student, managing to finish high school three years early.
Promising Soccer Player
At the age of 14, Adu became the youngest athlete to sign a major league professional contract in more than 115 years. He joined the DC United team in the Major League Soccer league with an impressive $500,000 per season paycheck. The rising midfielder also landed a lucrative contract with Nike as well. As he explained to BBC Sports, “My mother worked two or three jobs to take care of my brother and me. So if Nike comes to you and says they want to give a million-dollar contract and the MLS wants to make you the highest-paid player at 14, you can’t say ‘no.'”
Adu did well in the 2004 season with DC United, playing in 30 games and scoring 5 goals. He even helped his team win the MLS Cup that same year. Two years later, however, he moved to Real Salt Lake. But his tenure there proved short-lived. Adu joined the European team of Benfica in 2007, but he barely got to play for them. Instead, Benfica loaned out Adu to several other teams over the next few years.
In 2011, Adu returned to the United States to join the Philadelphia Union team. He played in 11 games that year, scoring two goals. The following year, Adu was a starting player for 20 out of 24 games. But rumors began to circulate that the team was unhappy with him. BBC Sports reported that Adu was “a disruptive influence in the locker room” and wasn’t “pulling his weight on the field.”
Philadelphia Union and Adu reached an agreement in 2013 to end Adu’s contract with the team. Bouncing back quickly, Adu signed a new deal with Brazilian soccer team Esporte Clube Bahia, the ninth franchise of his career. According to the Washington Post, around this time, Adu stated, “I am a little older and wiser, a better person, a better professional, more mature. This is a great chance for me, and I intend to take advantage of it.”