After being released this summer, Jack Dawson looks back at Zeli Ismail’s time at Wolves and how it never lived up to expectation.
Hype, hope and a whole lot of downfall is what many wolves fans have experience when thinking of Ismail nowadays. Just eight years ago he was held the player to break the £100 million mark*. Now he is off to Bury for nothing. How can a player with so much potential go from wonder kid to flop in so little time.
The man behind the hype was form academy manager Chis Evans stating that he was “priceless” as well as the “best player in the country for his age” during 2008. At the time there was much evidence for this with Ismail easily competing with players two or three years above his age level as well as his fantastic performance at the milk cup winning player of the tournament earning him the admiration of clubs such as Chelsea and even a professional contract in 2010 just after he had scored a hatrick against Manchester United under 21’s in a 4-0 win further emulating the hype surrounding him at the time.
Despite this only downfall was to come to Ismail for the proceeding years with an unsuccessful loan following a few years later at MK Dons where he only picked up 7 appearances which he collected no goals. However, as Wolves moved downwards in league one new manager Kenny Jackett was prepared to give him a go which he did starting him in a 4-0 win over Gillingham as well as in his next home game he picked up man of the match for his performance in the 2-1 win against Crawley. Despite his good start in the first team his form soon diminished and with incoming James Henry claiming a first team spot he was soon sent back on loan to various clubs only getting a total on 9 appearances for Wolves without scoring once.
Injuries also had a very big part to play in his downfall experiencing a big six-month one when on loan to Nott’s County in 2014 only to be cut short because of his knee. This played a crucial part in his unfilled potential for that this was a big chance to show Wolves and Kenny what a player he could still be epically as he was on form at the time however this injury most likely blew away any chance he had if returning to first team football at Wolves which seemed almost guaranteed going off the potential he had 8 years ago.
However, Ismail recovered from this and despite him not being able to replicate his form at Nott’s County he still got various loans many which were short lived with Cambridge the only bright spark where he showed glimmers of the talent he once had. Within a month a that loan ending he was released from Wolves with many optimists having to admit defeat that Ismail isn’t going to be the savior all Wolves fans dream of.
Pressure is what many blame on for his rapid decline for no 14 year old should have had the weight of being the potential next superstar on their shoulders for most will fail when this happens. However fans of Ismail should not despair for he has already been given an opportunity at Bury where hopefully he can show his true potential to the world. He may not live up to being the next superstar but he can still become a great player if he once again shows the potential he clearly has. Therefore if he can do this there is no reason why he cant be a good championship or even Premiership player in the future for in football anything is possible.