Aiden McGeady Never Fulfilled His Potential And Now He Never Will.

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There was a moment towards the end of the Republic of Ireland’s game with Belgium the other night which seemed to sum the career of Aiden McGeady up in one go.

The ball came across to him just outside the penalty area and he swung wildly at it, sending it sailing by. What made that moment stand out for me is that it was exactly the kind of thing I had expected.

Aiden is the epitome of a wasted talent.

Oh he’s done well for himself out of the game, but the game never saw the best of him, not with any regularity. The player he looked like becoming, he never actually was. He never reached his potential.

I always liked Aiden McGeady. I always thought he was a very good player. I never liked, or rated, him as highly as he rated himself.

As a kid he had enormous potential, but a lot of players do. Islam Feruz did and has never come close to living up to it. Aiden had the professionalism Feruz never did, and that’s why he’s made a career in the sport, but it takes more than focus and drive.

Sooner or later potential has to grow and become reality, or it’s all a waste.

Aiden bloomed at Celtic Park, of course, and as with any home grown player we were desperate for him to be the player he wanted to be and sometimes looked like. There were games – against AC Milan and Benfica in the Champions League and against Rangers in a League Cup final – where he was virtually unplayable.

Yet all too often there were games where it just wasn’t there.

Roy Keane was scathing about him before the tournament began, and listening to him I found I couldn’t disagree with much of what he was saying. Aiden’s entire career has been the story of missed opportunities.

For a lot of players this stuff comes down to attitude. When he moved to Russia I thought that was one of the most courageous moves any player in this country had gone for in decades; that was an enormously difficult thing he did there, taking maturity and self belief and showing more bottle than I ever thought he had.

There were easier moves available to him. He chose a hard path, and I always hugely admired that. I hoped he would be a monster success over there and go on to become a real first-rate player. But it never happened. He went to Everton, where he was uninspiring for the most part, and frustrated the fans every bit as much as he often did at Celtic Park.

Did his career stall in Russia? It must have.

He wasn’t going to get better at Celtic Park; the Russians bought the potential, not a finished article, and he was supposed to blossom into the world class player whilst he was there.

But the attitude issues that saw him go toe-to-toe with Gordon Strachan at one point (the argument which saw him left out of a crucial game against Rangers) surfaced all too often there; he broke a dressing room door once in a fit of rage, was sent off twice in one season (pretty heavy for a winger) and was finally transfer listed for disobeying his manager’s orders.

At Everton he went into further decline; injuries and bad form have restricted the number of appearances he’s made. His Sheffield Wednesday loan – at a time when he was linked with a return to Parkhead – ended in ignominy when they didn’t list him in their squad for the play-off finals.

The honours he won at Celtic Park look certain to be the only ones of his career.

It’s impossible not to feel some sympathy for the guy. Keane’s public remarks were lacerating, and would have wounded the player’s pride and dented his confidence – and a winger plays on confidence above else. I felt bad for him watching that miss against Belgium because we all know what Aiden might have been.

Now it’s too late.

At 30 his best years are behind him.

He never reached his full potential as a player, and now he never will.

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