Royston Drenthe seemed to have the world at his feet at the age of 20.
He was named the player of the tournament at the under-21 European Championship in 2007, signed for Real Madrid and scored a wondergoal in his debut against Sevilla.
From there, though, he never lived up to the enormous amount of talent he clearly possessed.
After a succession of clubs in his mid-20s in England, Russia and Turkey he retired at the age of 29 to focus on a rap career.
Now at 31, he’s back in football playing in the Dutch second tier for Sparta Rotterdam hoping to get them promoted to the Eredivisie.
Why was he so sought after as a youngster?
At the European Under-21 Championship, he was head and shoulders above everyone else and looked the complete footballer.
He was dominant in midfield as Holland lifted the trophy and every big club in Europe was clamouring for his signature.
Madrid paid €13million for him from Feyenoord and from there is where his problems started.
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What happened at Madrid?
Jose Mourinho happened. On deadline day in 2010 the new Madrid boss called Drenthe into his office and told him he had 24 hours to choose a team.
He eventually joined Hercules on loan and when he returned he was frozen out by Mourinho.
Drenthe could never get good performances going and he blamed a lot on the number of problems he had off the field.
Feud with Moyes
Drenthe went out on loan to Everton in 2011/12 and played 21 times for the club in the Premier League but did not enjoy a good relationship with manager David Moyes.
“Together with my first months at Hercules, I had the best spell of my career at Everton,” the 31-year-old told FourFourTwo.
Drenthe turned up late for a team meeting before Everton’s FA Cup semi-final showdown with Merseyside rivals Liverpool at Wembley and the clashes over his timekeeping came to a head.
“I was waiting outside the room,” he explains, “whereas I probably should have just walked in quietly and taken a seat.
“When I went in afterwards, Moyes told me to f**k off. I should have accepted it, but I said, ‘What do you mean, f**k off, bro? You f**k off.’ And then I left for Holland and didn’t come back. If I’d adapted more to Moyes I think I’d have reaped the benefits, as initially I did play a lot under him.”
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The 31-year-old had a difficult start to life in Rotterdam and his father was murdered when he was three.
“It wasn’t easy, of course,” Drenthe told Marca. “My mum tried to protect me so I didn’t suffer because I was just a child. She protected me so I wasn’t scared or weak.
“I heard things on the street and I told my mum, but she told me it wasn’t like that.
“She wanted to protect me because I am from Rotterdam, the streets of Rotterdam, and there you have to be tough. I have been a man from a young age, you have to fight hard there.”
Problems with agents
In his interview with Marca, he blames problems with agents and other people who tried to get close to him. He said there are a lot of people in football who are not honest and tried to take advantage.
Why did he quit football?
It all got too much for the footballer and he decided to call it a day at 29. He says he was tired, depressed, hopeless and being a professional footballer did not make him happy.
How did his rap career go?
Drenthe began recording and releasing rap songs under the name Roya2Faces and released his first song in February 2017 called Paranoid.
The song has more than 300,000 views on YouTube, while Mooie Dame has more than 100,000 listens on Spotify, but he put his rap career on hold in the summer of 2018 to give football and shot.
He joined Sparta Rotterdam to help them get promoted back to the Eredivisie and they’re currently fourth in the second tier and he has four goals in 19 starts.