Physicist Nils Bohr once said that making predictions is difficult, especially for the future. This is true, as confirmed by a quick review of one of the British newspaper Daily Mail’s forecast, done in 2007. Exactly a decade ago, the Mail released an 11-player squad of promises that were expected to be the English team of the future. The article was entitled “60 reasons why the future of English football is not as gloomy as you might think”. But it was the Mail’s own forecast that turned out to be gloomy – to say the least.

According to Finance Football calculations, the eleven players have nowadays a combined market value of 33.9 million euros – less than a portuguese mid-table team. And if the value itself is already modest, it becomes even more impressive when it is found that two-thirds of the amount relates to the athlete Theo Walcott. Without the Arsenal forward, the Daily Mail’s choices would now be worth 11.9 million – more or less the combined value of the … Tondela squad, another mid-table team of the portuguese league.

The intentions of the Daily Mail would certainly be the best, but the truth is that the forecasts have proved to be a complete fiasco. Among the selected team, Winger Walcott and Scott Sinclair (Celtic) are the only ones who are currently in the top tier of English football. There are three more players who also passed through the Premier League, but in the meantime they have followed other paths. Jose Baxter, for example, is without a club; And Michael Johnson even finished his career early.

Beyond this, it’s a desert: the six reamining players have never been able to leave the secondary divisions. Because of lack of effort, talent or just a lot of bad luck, the players identified by the Daily Mail ended up getting lost in the transition to senior football, and nowadays few would recognize their names. Something that is not completely unexpected: as we know for a long time, there are few early stars who pass from promises to certainties. In Portugal, the case of Fábio Paím is very well known.

An England with the value of Kosovo

The captain of this team of “vedetas” would be Micah Richards. The central does not have the worst of the careers: currently plays for Aston Villa and was English champion on two occasions at the service of Manchester City. However, with a value of 3.5 million euros at age 28, English resembles players like Bolly from FC Porto or Josué Sá from Vitória SC.

In the comparison landscape, this is just the tip of the iceberg. If the attacking trident with Walcott, Sinclair and Baxter is valued at 26.3 million, the rest of the sectors do not have the same luck (or ingenuity). Cardiff City goalkeeper Ben Amos of the English second tier is worth as much as Belenenses goalkeeper Hugo Ventura. The defense, valued at 5.7 million euros, is at the same level of the defensive quartet of National CD, last classified of Liga NOS, the portuguese first division.

The scenario gets worse when you reach the midfield. Certainly the reader will not remember names like those of Dean Parrett, Michael Johnson and James Henry, but according to the Daily Mail, they would be to be part of the English selection today. With a value of just over one million euros, the center of English ground would be at the midfield level of Cova da Piedade, which is fighting for maintenance in Ledman LigaPro – an amateur division in Portugal.

England coach Gareth Southgate would have a hard time ahead. The “eleven” of the British team would be worth as much as Kosovo, Mali or Cape Verde. Currently, both Delle Alli and Raheem Sterling could cover the value of all eleven old promises together.

A widely-heard joke in academic circles is that God created economists to give a better picture of meteorologists’ predictions. It is not only these two groups who commit frequent mistakes when they try to look into the future. As far as football is concerned, generalist newspapers do not do better either.