9 footballers who were the ‘next generation’ in 2014 – and what happened to them

In 2014, The Guardian picked out a handful of players they thought would be the future of English football as part of their 'Next Generation' series.

After scanning through some of the country's finest academies, they came back with a list of players who looked destined for the very top.

Seven years on, some have fulfilled their potential, others are still waiting for their big break, and some have fallen off the face of the earth completely.

With that in mind, let's take a look at how they've all fared since being labelled 'the next generation'.

Marcus Rashford

Perhaps the most well-known name on the list, Marcus Rashford broke into the Manchester United first-team in 2016 and hasn't looked back since.

The 24-year-old has been a main-stay in the side for the past five-and-a-half seasons, scoring 91 goals.

Rashford has also established himself as a regular in the England squad, and was part of the sides that reached the World Cup semi-final in 2018 and the final of Euro 2020 in July.

Which current youngsters do you think are the future of English football? Let us know in the comments section below…

Dominic Solanke

Dominic Solanke was picked as Chelsea's hottest young prospect at a time when academy players barely ever got a look-in.

Fast forward to 2019 and the Blues were a hotbed of burgeoning young talent under Frank Lampard. Sadly for Solanke, he was long gone by then.

He moved to Liverpool in search of minutes in 2017, but scored just once in 21 appearances – mostly from the bench – before departing for Bournemouth less than two years later.

While initially struggling for the club in the Premier League, the 24-year-old is thriving in the Championship and has bagged 14 goals in 18 games so far this season.

Cameron Carter-Vickers

The US international was one of Tottenham Hotspur's brightest young stars once, and was fast-tracked through the academy system by Mauricio Pochettino during the 2016/17 season.

He only managed a handful of appearances before being sent out on loan to Sheffield United the following year.

In the three-and-a-half years since, Carter-Vickers has been loaned out no-less than six times and currently plies his trade in the Scottish Premier League with Celtic.

He's started the season brightly and even bagged a goal on his debut, but whether he's good enough to make the cut at Spurs when he returns remains to be seen.

Stefan Broccoli

He might have one of the most eye-catching names on the list, but his career since 2014 has anything but.

Stefan Broccoli was once one of Arsenal's brightest young talents before moving to Newcastle United, though injuries plagued his late teenage years and he was sadly released by the club in 2017.

After a spell in Italy with Serie D side Ghivizzano Borgo, Broccoli moved to Spalding United in the Northern Premier League Midlands Division.

Quite the fall from grace.

Adam Phillips

After a spell in Blackburn Rovers' academy, Adam Phillips moved to Liverpool in 2009 to ramp up his development.

At the age of 16 he appeared in a pre-season friendly against Brøndby IF under Brendan Rodgers in 2014, but later struggled with a recurrent back injury.

He left the club in 2017 for Championship club Norwich City, but cancelled his deal less than two-years-later after failing to make a single appearance for the club.

He later joined Burnley where he faced similar struggles for first-team action, and has spent the last two seasons out on four separate loans – three of which have been to Morecambe Town in League One.

Hamza Choudhury

One of few players still playing for the same club, Hamza Choudhury has flirted with Leicester City's first-team for the past three seasons.

He'd made 75 appearances for his home-town club but has struggled for minutes under Brendan Rodgers this season.

With the likes of Youri Tielemans, Wilfried Ndidi and James Maddison ahead of him in the Foxes' midfield, Choudhury may have to start looking elsewhere for first-team football if he wants to live up to his potential.

Tosin Adarabioyo

Tosin Adarabioyo spent 13 years in Manchester City's academy, and while two successful loans spells to West Brom and Blackburn brought promise, the centre-back made just eight appearances for Pep Guardiola's side before leaving for Fulham in 2020.

The 24-year-old played 32 times as the Cottagers were relegated from the Premier League last season, making what Sky Sports described as a "seamless transition" to the top-flight, delivered a number of impressive performances – and there even talk of a potential England call-up.

But since Fulham's relegation to the Championship, Adarabioyo has struggled for game-time and has only managed to play in two matches so far this season.

Chris Willock

Chris Willock, like his younger brother Joe, was destined for big things at Arsenal.

After making two appearances for the Gunners, Willock made the brave move of joining Benfica in 2017, but only managed to feature for the club's B team during his two-year stay in Portugal.

He was loaned back to England in 2019 before securing a permanent move to Championship side QPR in 2020 where he's managed to nail-down a starting spot.

The winger has scored five times in 49 games for the London club.

Harley Willard

The former Southampton youngster dropped into non-league in 2017, before intriguing moves to Sweden, Cambodia and later Iceland – where he remains to this day.

In 2019, he opened up about his nomadic experience as a youngster.

“I went through some dark days thinking, ‘What’s happened?’ and, ‘How can I get back?’" he said.

"But when I look back now I’m happy I went through the struggle and think that was the making of me, going through the bad times and knowing things can’t get much worse than they were then.

“Now I’m on the way up, starting to get a bit of success, and I know what I need to do."

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