Not all footballers are loved and appreciated from the get-go; some go through spells of struggle, are mismanaged or simply just develop late before reaching the top. Down are some of the footballers who were once deemed disappointments.

5. Harry Kane (Tottenham)

It’s unbelievable to think Kane was once a genuine meme, a subject of ridicule. Even among Tottenham fans. But look at him now; he has developed into one of the world’s best strikers, which says a lot about his hunger to improve every aspect of his game.

4. Xavi Hernandez(Barcelona)

A graduate of Barcelona’s academy system, Xavi looked like the odd one out in his early playing days as he was surrounded by a host of international names with the majority of them not locally grown.

It would be a while before he cemented a regular starting berth in Barça’s midfield. “I didn’t get recognition until 2008 when I’d been in the team for ten years,” said Xavi in a 2015 interview with El Periodico.

3. David de Gea (Man Utd)

“His first six months were horrendous,” said his former goalkeeping coach Eric Steele in an interview with United We Stand, a Manchester United fanzine, in 2014.

But you can’t keep a good man down. De Gea would beef up and, once he became assimilated to English football, quickly established himself as the Premier League’s best goalkeeper as well as one of Europe’s finest.

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