Footballers released as teenagers still had successful careers.

Football is a cut-throat industry. Academies partake in huge numbers of promising young talent every year only to develop one or two gems into the first team.

This leaves young players sidelined, with their football dreams dashed before their careers even begin.

Occasionally a talented youngster will slip through the net, but another coach will see something in a player that a team may have missed. Let’s take a look at players released as youngsters who prove a few wrong.

Released as a teenager, Zanetti didn’t retire until he was 40 / Christophe Simon/Getty Images

The defender spent seven years at Independiente’s academy, only to be rejected at 16 for being ‘too modest and too weak’. Before signing for Argentine second-tier team Talleres de Remedios de Escalada, he started working in a brickyard with his father.

Zanetti started out at First Division side Banfield before joining Inter in 1995. He would stay with the Italian team for 19 years, defying his age both on the pitch and in appearance – going from 21 to 40 in barely a day.

The Argentine would go on to make 143 appearances for his country and 858 appearances for Inter, winning 12 major trophies.

Ribery takes the long way to the top / Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

The Frenchman was part of Lille’s youth set-up for three years, but was released at the age of 16. Lille claims it was because of bad behaviour, Ribery insists it was because he thought he was too young.

In order to keep his football dreams alive the winger actually had to graft to move to local fourth division side Boulogne. Ribery then joined Alez in the third tier, but he went bankrupt within a year and was relegated to three divisions, forcing him to work in construction with his father (he and the Zinetti business probably Can I go?)

Ribery finally made his Ligue 1 debut with Metz in 2004, and he signed for Bayern Munich four years later, following spells with Galatasaray and Marseille. It was in Germany where Ribery achieved his greatest success and established himself as one of the best wingers in the world. He won nine Bundesliga titles in 12 years with Bayern. Lille have won three Ligue 1 titles in their 75-year history.

Vardy wins 2019/20 Golden Boot / Michael Regan / Getty Images

The striker was 15 with Sheffield Wednesday, but was deemed too young to make the grade. He moved to the non-league, working as a technician while playing for Stocksbridge Park Steels.

Big money headed to the bright lights of Halifax and Fleetwood soon followed, before Championship side Leicester finally got a punt on Vardy at 25, and Fox got three. The following year gained promotion to the Premier League.

Since Vardy’s release in 2002, Sheffield Wednesday have spent 14 seasons in the Championship and four seasons in League One. Vardy has climbed seven divisions and won the Premier League.

Kane has knack for scoring in North London derbies / Robbie J Barratt – AMA/Getty Images

Arsenal signed Kane as an eight-year-old, but was released after just one season with the club due to being ‘a bit chubby’ and ‘not very athletic’.

A boyhood Tottenham fan, the striker joined Spurs two years later, making the first team after four separate loan spells.

Kane has captained his country, won the World Cup Golden Boot, and is the joint top scorer in North London derbies with 10 goals so far against the Gunners.

Rice is being targeted by Chelsea – the same team that released him as a 14-year-old / Pool/Getty Images

The defensive midfielder spent eight years at Chelsea’s academy, but was released at the age of 14.

Rice immediately earned himself a trial at West Ham, and just three years after being released by the Blues, he made his Premier League debut for the Hammers.

The 21-year-old’s performances at West Ham quickly earned him international recognition, as well as the attention of a certain west London club in blue, who swooped on Rice in the summer transfer window. are heavily associated with signing.

Robertson was released by Celtic as a youth / Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images

The left winger was dropped by boyhood club Celtic when he was playing in their under-15 team because he was deemed too young.

Robertson joined local amateur side Queen’s Park, while simultaneously working for a living at Hamden Park.

He was eventually picked up by Dundee United in the Scottish Premiership, before moving to Premier League side Hull within a year. It was there that he caught the attention of Liverpool, and 11 years after being released by Celtic, Robertson is now a Champions League and Premier League winner.

Felix was released by Porto as a teenager / Quality Sport Images / Getty Images

Another member of the ‘damned too small’ brigade is Joao Felix. The forward joined Porto’s youth team at the age of eight, but was released seven years later due to his height.

He joined Benfica at the age of 15, and made his senior debut at the age of 18. He finished his debut season with 20 goals in the first team, as Benfica won the title. Kai Havertz and Jadon Sancho were the only European youngsters to outscore Felix during the 2018/19 season.

After just one year in the Benfica first team, and five years after being released by Porto, Atletico Madrid paid a whopping €126m to bring him to La Liga.

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