Five football manager prodigies who were even better in real life

Football Manager prodigies are legendary. There are hundreds you can buy for your team to take it to the next level, but while most don’t make it in real life, there are some that are so good their FM stats actually beat them.

Football Manager just misunderstands most players’ stats and gives them a potential ability that’s just too high and unrealistic for the real youngsters to match.

But sometimes they get it right. In fact, they’re so right they’re wrong again because the players just got so good in real life that they were actually underrated in the game.

From players who were predicted to be good but turned out great, to those who weren’t considered special at all, here are five FM prodigies who were even better in real life than they were in the game.

Erling Haaland-FM18

He may be one of the biggest names in world football now, but in 2017 Haaland was a far cry from the man-mountain robot he is now.

Don’t get us wrong, he was classified as a child prodigy. Manchester United scouts reportedly watched as he scored four goals aged 17, but that was for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s molde, where he was quietly simmering beneath the surface.

He became a cheap option for FM18 managers, helping shoot midfield sides to Champions League spots in Germany, France, Italy and England.

But even that totally underestimated him. His announcement to the world with Red Bull Salzburg in 2019 made him the hottest player in Europe and now he’s heading to Manchester City to ruin pretty much every English league in upcoming episodes of Football Manager.

At least we have the good old days.

Sergio Ramos-FM06

In 2005, Ramos made his dream move from Seville to Real Madrid. He was seen as a solid investment for the future and one who would go on to become a key Real Madrid player.

FM06 reflected this and gave it good potential. He’s been a solid rotation option for any Madrid manager and a great signing if you could land him in later years.

Of course, what we now know is that Ramos would become one of the greatest central defenders of all time. During his career, he rose to the highest echelons of Madrid folklore to sit alongside its greatest gods, Raúl and Alfredo de Stefano.

Even the most dedicated FM boss probably couldn’t provide the digital Ramos with real life’s trophy case. Four Champions Leagues and five La Ligas; that’s eye tears.

Fernando Torres-CM01/02

We travel through time, but not space, as we go back to the good ole days of Championship Manager in old-school Madrid.

CM01/02 is one of the most popular football games of all time and one of his favorite sons is none other than Fernando Torres.

He kicked around the Atletico Madrid squad, then playing in the Segunda Division, early in the game and had great potential. Many managers, both home and abroad, may have made him their starting striker in their rise up the leagues.

But it’s likely that nobody transformed him into the incredibly lethal player his career has become and certainly nobody outside of Atletico would have had any desire for what would become of him.

READ: A tribute to Liverpool-era Fernando Torres, a striker who could do it all

Lukas Modric – FM07

Modric was still playing for Dinamo Zagreb when FM07 came out and unlike some on this list, he was a true prodigy at the game. As a regular in the Croatian national team, he was seen a lot internationally and his quality was evident.

That culminated in a move to Tottenham at the end of the 2007/08 season but for a glorious year all managed to bring him into their FM team in FM07.

What you got for around £10m was either your starting creative midfielder or someone who would be a good rotation option and become one of the better players in the game… but what Spurs unleashed into the real world all those years ago was something quite other.

As a Ballon d’Or winner and one of the true greats of his generation, Modric somehow still plays for Real Madrid and we love it.

Robert Lewandowski-FM09

Lewandowski defies description. He broke almost all Gerd Müller records, which in Germany were simply considered eternal; impossible to break, and which would stand forever.

Yet Lewandowski’s class in every respect is itself eternal, and he continues to defy time as he grows older and better.

So it makes sense that he wasn’t world class when he was super young. A new signing at Lech Poznan, Lewandowski was a quality lower-division investment for FM managers when he became available and one to sell for a profit, but he was certainly not the type of player to be expected doing what he did in real life.

“He made 29 appearances and scored 4 goals for my team at Southampton,” reads an old blog post from 2009.

“Why is he sucking?”

You can’t help but smile crookedly.

By Patrick Ryan


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