Lost potential. We've all seen it in some young players. Players that were 'giving it as good as they could take' at an early age. Players that were on possibly everybody’s lips in there breakthrough days. Players that were placed in possible future world elevens. Basically players we all had high expectations of. Players that have now unfortunately been plying there footballing skills at a much lower level than we once didn’t expect from them.
The idea for this piece was mainly orchestrated by the appearance of Ian Harte turning out for Reading earlier this year.
Harte was regarded as a 'top prospect' in the mid days of the Premier League. Scoring, assisting and generally having a good all-round game that peers only thought it was common knowledge that he would soon be regarded as one of the top left backs in world football, if he kept up his high level of progress at Leeds United.
But as mentioned above that never truly materialised. Now at Reading Hartes career, since leaving Leeds, has been on an interesting rollercoaster of a journey. Through witnessing the depressing outcome of Leeds United getting relegated ,to taking a stint in Spain’s La Liga for 3 years under the team of Levante. His spell in Spain was, lets say, inconsistent. He put in good performances and ones where the deficiencies of his all-round game were exposed, mainly pace. But to Hartes credit he battled for his position at the club for 3 years until finally being told by the the new coach Abel Resino that he wasn’t in his plans for the upcoming campaign. Harte left in 2007.
Since that departure Harte was now going to witness the pains of trying to make a footballing career all over again. He was given a life line, to return to England, in the form of Sunderland and fellow national hero Roy Keane as coach. But his Sunderland Career was plighted with injuries and, again, he was relieved of his duties by the Geordie club. He rejected a forthcoming offer from Wolves on a month to month basis and continued to look and trial elsewhere, one of his trial appearance came in the form of trying to impress Norwegian club Valerenga to acquire his services, but that deal never came about.
Things were looking more bleaker than they possibly should've for Harte. He had a shorter stint than he previously had at Sunderland in the form of Blackpool,4 appearances. And then things started to slowly pick themselves up again when Carlisle were interested in acquiring his person. The deal was out of the blue and so were his performance's and general stability in keeping himself fit and injury free. Harte was involved up to 52 appearances and 19 goals in a more advanced fullback role.
Reading FC then came knocking on the door of Carlisle and both sets of the board thrashed out a deal to bring Harte to the Madejski Stadium. Harte was involved in 43 games for Reading, scoring 11 goals in the process.
He was named once again in the PFA team of the season having also achieved that position in the past with Carlisle.
The career of a footballer is widely regarded as a small one but Ian Harte and many others have seemingly spanned those footballing days into a larger story than what was predicted.
And having witnessed the career of Harte there are so many other footballers that have gone through the same fate, players like Bridges, Jody Morris, Lee Hendrie to name but a few. Then we have foreign players like Petre, who was highly regarded as the next Hagi.
Q: Who, when they were in the infancy of there playing career did, you expect greater things from?
And who are you surprised to see things from players you didn’t expect things from, and arguably expected the “Ian Harte career” type to take place?