Everyone deserves a second chance in life, including footballers. Football clubs and fans are sometimes too quick to give up on footballers who fail to live up to expectations. For such footballers, a big money move to a big club without the expected performance may signal the end of a promising career. These players become outcasts at the clubs they have hoped to win big things at. However, a club in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England is giving players like this a new lease of life. Not once, not twice, big club flops have reignited their careers at the Bet365 Stadium. Stoke City is fast become a Rehabilitation Centre, whether the club owners see it as such or not.
Here are top five footballers who have reignited their careers with the Potters.
The Swiss footballer was a rising start at Basel, before he moved to Bayern Munich in 2012 for a reported €11.6 million, with Shaqiri signing a four-year contract. The midfielder played only 52 times for Bayern in three years, as against 92 times at Basel in the same number of years. Shaqiri moved on to Inter Milan in 2015 but sold him to Stoke City in the same year. He has become an important player for The Potters ever since, scoring a stunning free kick in the club’s match against Hull City on Saturday.
Everyone who saw Joe Allen play at Swansea City would understand why Liverpool paid £15 million to take him to Anfield. However, Allen could not establish himself at Liverpool. His situation was not helped by frequent change of managers at the club, as well as injuries. He left in 2016, signing a five-year contract reportedly worth £13 million with Stoke City.
Like Allen, Adam seemed to be the next big thing when he arrived at Anfield. However, he could not maintain the tempo with which he started his Liverpool career. He could only stay a year at the Merseyside club, playing only 29 times. Like they always did, Stoke City rescued another wantaway, signing Adam on a four-year contract, for an undisclosed fee believed to be around £4 million.
Bojan began his career at Barcelona after progressing through the youth ranks at La Masia. His early promise saw him make his first-team debut at the age of 17 years and 19 days, breaking the record set by Lionel Messi. However, it soon became clear that he had no future at Barcelona, with playing time reducing as players like Messi, Andreas Iniesta and Xavi developed a great understanding. David Villa also joined the club in 2010, showing that manager Pep Guardiola did not have Bojan in his plans.
Bojan was sold in July 2011 to Italian side Roma for a fee of €12 million. While in Rome, he scored seven goals in 37 appearances in 2011–12 and then spent the 2012–13 on loan at Milan, where he scored three goals in 27 games. Roma did not exercise their option of an additional €28 million to sign Bojan definitively, and so Barcelona re-signed him for €13 million. He spent the 2013–14 season on loan at Dutch club Ajax with whom he helped win the Eredivisie title. In July 2014, Bojan joined English club Stoke City for €1.8 million.
Afellay was an important player at PSV Eindhoven. This changed when he moved to Camp Nou in 2011. He was always going to play second fiddle to David Villa who joined a year earlier for €40 million. Afellay played on loan at Olympiacos and Shalke before Stoke City came to the rescue in 2015, signing him on a 2-year deal.
Although Afellay might not be enjoying the best of times at Stoke City at the moment, the club gave him a second chance and that matters.