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Charlie Adams: The Scottish starlet whose career hit the skids... is now Mr Blackpool

21 Jan 2011 23:43:52

Charlie Adams: The Scottish starlet whose career hit the skids... is now Mr Blackpool

It does not matter one bit what you have done or where you have come from, it is about your hunger to win here and now. Charlie Adam said that. It was delivered with the edge of someone whose past has been questioned, someone who has known disappointment, someone who has come in from the cold. Double take: Charlie Adam Snr in action for Dundee United and his son, celebrating after scoring for Rangers He said it in the build-up to Blackpool's biggest game for decades - last May's Championship play-off final against Cardiff City at Wembley - in which he scored a thrilling free-kick that set the great outsiders on the way to the Barclays Premier League. The here and now. It was said with feeling. Adam knew what he had done and where he had come from but he also knew it was forgotten. He had played for Rangers at Barcelona, against Lionel Messi and all, in the Champions League. He had scored in an Old Firm game against Celtic. He had played for Scotland. He was the 24-year- old captain of Blackpool. Yet for most of the population he remained Charlie Who? No more. Today Adam is one of the top five players of this Premier League season. He is pursued publicly by Aston Villa in the transfer market, and bid for quietly by others, he's the subject of Everton and Liverpool scouting reports and has had Harry Redknapp make a special trip to watch him. This heavy-looking, not swift but clever, left-footed midfielder whose build and pace mean he offers reminders of John Robertson and Jan Molby has become 'soughtafter Charlie Adam'. That will make him smile, and those who have known the Dundee born playmaker for a long time. Because 'sought-after' was one of the phrases George Adams used to describe the boy he first encountered in Dundee a dozen years ago. Adams was head of youth at Celtic then, a role he would later take up at Rangers having already worked under Alex Ferguson at Aberdeen. Adams knows young Scottish talent. 'Even at primary school Charlie stood out,' Adams said. 'Naturally gifted left-footed boys do. At 13 or 14, everyone thought he would go right to the very top. He had a good work ethic, he never missed training and he had no airs or graces, unlike some of the boys now. A lot forget where they come from - Charlie will never do that. Mr Blackpool: Charlie Adam has got confidence, regular football, freedom and the respect of the manager 'Even then he worked on dead balls, free-kicks, corners. He was already sought after. Every club in Scotland wanted him, and a few in England.' Two of those clubs were Manchester United and Liverpool. But it came down to a choice between Rangers and Celtic and Charlie Adam Snr was a Rangers fan. George Adams also knew Charlie Adam Snr, a striker for Brechin City, but good enough to have been signed by Jim McLean at Dundee United as a midfielder. Charlie Snr was often described as 'burly'. There have been a lot of comments about his son's physique. Eric Black is assistant manager at Sunderland, who go to Bloomfield Road today. He was coaching at Celtic at the time Adam was being wooed and recalled: 'Charlie was one that everyone wanted, one of those. He ended up going to Rangers but Celtic took it to the wire. 'He was gifted, a powerfully built 14-year-old with a great left foot and great determination. He had all the bits. He was a catch for any club. I don't remember his weight or size being an issue, but if your weight fluctuates, then not playing regularly will affect you.' Not playing regularly was ultimately one of the reasons why Adam would leave Ibrox two years ago, unfulfilled, for £500,000, with only Barnsley challenging Blackpool for his signature. Yet at 16 Adam was still such a prospect that then Rangers manager Alex McLeish took him on a Uefa Cup trip to Prague. He did not play but Adam made his debut under McLeish at Livingston seven years ago. He will always be able to note that he replaced Ronald de Boer. 'Sought after' Adam: Aston Villa and Liverpool have joined race to sign him Any symbolism in that was lost as Adam, in Black's word, 'stagnated'. He was sent on loan to Ross County - on £300 per week - and to St Mirren. When he returned to Rangers it was to find Barry Ferguson among others ahead of him and a posting on the left wing when he did play. From there, and in training, Adam would attempt the spectacular. As McLeish said earlier this season: 'When he was younger, he was always looking for that killer pass. We used to call it "the World Cup Willie" ball. We had to impress upon him that it wasn't always possible to play it.' Instead of being a localboy hero, Adam's build and approach attracted Rangers fans' ire. He got so much stick his father stopped going. Faith was receding - by the time of Adam's 21st birthday, he had played only 22 times for Rangers. In 10 of those games he had been on the bench or substituted for the likes of Kris Boyd. 'He had not really made the first team during my time at Rangers,' McLeish said. 'I told him that sometimes in football you had to go one step back to go two forwards. 'I remember saying that with the quality we had, he might have to look elsewhere to play first team. He was quite upset by that. But he was never a problem. He wasn't one of those who would just pay lip service and look straight through you. He was humble and would listen.' There was an expectation that McLeish's successor Paul Le Guen would overlook Adam. But Adam started for the Frenchman. Le Guen addressed re-fuelling at Rangers and is said to have banned Monster Munch from the training ground. In turn Adam came up with the unforgettable dietary quote: 'I'd never really thought of eating salads before.' Le Guen's tenure was short. Walter Smith returned and Adam scored in his first game back in charge. That was January 2007. The next season Adam played 32 times for Rangers, home and away against Barcelona, and he was on the bench for the Uefa Cup final against Zenit St Petersburg in Manchester. Yet by the following January, just after turning 23, Rangers let Adam go. His final game was a 1-0 home defeat by Celtic in which he was substituted just after the away team scored. There were more than 50,000 at that match. Six weeks later, in front of 7,000 at Bloomfield Road, Adam made his debut for relegation threatened Blackpool under caretaker boss Tony Parkes. Doncaster Rovers were the opposition and they won 3-2. But Adam made his mark. He was sent off for an off-the-ball stamp on Richie Wellens. It turned out to be the unpromising start of Blackpool's unlikely rise. 'And now,' Eric Black added, 'what we see is a player with enormous confidence. He's the No 1 Blackpool player, Mr Blackpool. 'He is playing in a system that's direct and he's able to be adventurous. He is in a zone and when technical footballers are there they can do things blind. One of his passes last week against West Brom was breathtaking. He's got confidence, regular football, freedom and the respect of the manager.' Ten years on Charlie Adam is again sought after.  Liverpool raise their offer for Charlie Adam - but Blackpool reject the £4.5m bidShow some respect! Houllier is out to steal our Adam, blasts HollowayAll the latest Blackpool news, features and opinion


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