Football Denzeil Boadu’s career never took off
Few players on the planet can claim to have had more promising youth careers than Denzeil Boadu-Adjei (London, 1997). The youngster was considered one of the most promising up-and-coming players in Europe for a long time.
Signed up by Tottenham Hotspur early on, he then moved to Arsenal and Manchester City at 16 in 2013. Then, he coexisted in England’s Under-16s with Joe Gomez, Marcus Rashford, Dean Henderson, Dom Solanke and others. His career was taking off, and he was tipped to become the new Raheem Sterling.
But everything changed on Saturday, November 1, 2014. That day, Boadu scored a hat-trick in a 7-0 win at Bolton, but as he scored his second he felt something wrong. As it turned out, he had broken his metatarsal and needed surgery. However, at 17, he was worried and decided to let the injury heal itself.
For that to happen, Boadu had to rest. But he wanted to return as soon as possible. It reached the point where surgery was the only choice, as his preferred way hadn’t worked, with him even struggling to walk for a long time and having doubts that he would ever play again.
After eight operations, he grew hopeful again. He regained mobility little by little and returned to playing 20 months later.
Then, in a team with the likes of Brahim Diaz, Jadon Sancho, and Phil Foden, the doors weren’t as open as they once were. But City still believed in Boadu, and while he was recovering he was offered his first professional contract.
Two years after that day in Bolton, he returned to the pitch on November 20, 2016, as City’s U23s beat Everton.
Boadu looked to be on the up again. He trained with the first team, and Pep Guardiola included him in City’s Premier League squad with the No.49 shirt.
A City debut never came, though, and on August 30, 2017, he signed for Borussia Dortmund just one day before Sancho followed, becoming their first-ever English signing.
He played for Dortmund’s first team in the International Champions Cup in 2018, but never in a competitive fixture. After two seasons, Boadu wanted to return to England and ended up at Crawley Town in the fourth tier of English football.
In the blink of an eye, he had gone from training with Marco Reus, Christian Pulisic, Matts Hummels, Paco Alcacer and Sancho to being in League Two.
But even there, Boadu failed to shine. He only played in a handful of games, and his contract was terminated in January 2020.
Now, at 23, he’s without a club and has fallen a long way.