Here’s to the late bloomers.
The ones you thought had lost their way, would amount to nothing or never recover from a cruel setback.
In 2020 we’ve been tricked into believing player development is linear, straightforward and rapid. Jadon Sancho, Joao Felix and Kai Havertz all developing into superstars before their 20th birthday creates an unrealistic bar for the many others who must develop a career over time.
Here, B/R Football honours those who have deviated from the path a bit, taken their time to reach the top level, only emerging as a top-tier player in their mid-20s at the earliest.
Not a single one of these players was a star at age 24, and they’re ranked by how big their “jump” was—from also-ran to star. Only current players are included, as we turn our focus away from traditional late bloomers (Ian Wright, Miroslav Klose), in search of the next crop.
10. Dani Parejo, 31, Central Midfielder
9. Ivan Perisic, 31, Winger
8. Felipe, 30, Central Defender
7. Iago Aspas, 32, Forward
6. Duvan zapata, 29, Striker
5. Victor Moses, 29, Wing-Back
4. Ciro Immobile, 30, Striker
3. Josip Ilicic, 32, Forward
2. Thomas Partey, 26, Central Midfielder
1. Jamie Vardy, 33, Striker