Islam Feruz, the once promising football prodigy, continued his slide into obscurity and the ranks of the also-ran last night when it was announced that his latest loan deal – to Kazakhstani club Aktobe – has come to an end after less than 24 hours.
Feruz, who left Celtic to go to Chelsea under controversial circumstances in 2011, has never made a first team appearance for that club. Instead, in 2014, they allowed him to go out on the first of a series of loans, to get him first team football in the hope that he would develop the maturity that has eluded him so far.
His first stop was supposed to be in Russia, but he decided against that.
He went to Crete, where he made a mere handful of appearances.
The same thing happened at Blackpool, where he moved after he’d trained with, and then rejected a move to, Cardiff.
At Hibs he made just six substitute appearances, in a return to his homeland which also saw him arrested.
Feruz is now 20, with his career at Stamford Bridge ebbing away, and with not so much as a first team goal to his name. Even those who like him best are being forced to accept, little by little, that his is a career that’s now slipping away.
Other top players have already started to look the part by this time in their careers.
To give but one example, John Hartson was already a predatory striker, at Arsenal, who had scored in a European final, by the time he was Feruz age. Although blessed with less technical skill, he was, instead, and remained, a consummate professional and hard worker.
Clearly, one of the issues with Feruz is an attitude problem not uncommon to young players before they’ve “made it”; the Billy Big Time Syndrome which has laid low many a career before it’s even got underway. Of all the potential bear traps that stand between a decent footballer and what he perceives to be his destiny, it may well be the worst.
Islam Feruz never gave some the impression that he was a team player.
The manner of his departure from Celtic Park, where he would have been able to develop in the right kind of culture, instead of ending up surrounded by Bentleys and the lights of London, left a bad taste in the mouths of many at the club who knew how much we’d done for him and his family.
The impression some got from talking to folk close to him was that somewhere along the line talent and acclaim had gone to his head, and the cash registers were loudly ringing. Other issues had started to surface too; people would speak of disrespect, flashes of anger, an unwillingness to participate in training sessions and on and on.
Even then, you could see it getting away from him.
Few other occupations demand the complete dedication and focus of professional sport; without the iron will and the self-discipline all the talent in the world will do no good whatsoever.
Feruz has the talent, and you can’t teach that.
But you can’t teach the rest of that stuff either.
A player has to be willing to learn it for himself.
He’s shown no sign of that so far.