It’s hard to imagine famous people as anything other than famous. Even when docs give us sneak peek behind the curtains, it’s just their teachers and school friends saying they could “tell, even at that age, they were destined to become [whatever they eventually became].”
Try to picture Andy Carroll as a child and all that comes to mind is a Powerpod version of himself, stolidly kicking a ball against a wall until he was old enough to be paid to kick a ball around a stadium. But there are always wilderness years, the times in between being a kid with a dream and a professional with a contract, where the future wasn’t certain and they were just normal teens…
The remnants of our sordid pasts, the embarrassing ghosts of the people we used to be, are easier to find than ever thanks to the muddy footprints we’ve been treading all over the internet. Where once governments had to conduct a census and archaeologists had to dig up corpses to find out what were like at a certain place and time, now we have Google. And, while Facebook’s form-filing profiles have become increasingly dry, the old platforms allowed us a certain degree of creative license over how we presented ourselves. We’re talking MySpace, Bebo, the websites you forgot existed but are still accessible with some canny searching.
These are the most valuable online time capsules out there. And we’ve scoured the dustbins of the web to unearth the best footballers’ profiles from times gone by...
The England and West Ham big man was once a shorter boy (though still AKA’d himself as ‘Tha Big AC’) with “brown styled hair” and a Bebo account who described his hobbies as “spending time with my pals from football and home and havin a drink with them and goin to town”, a prescient comment given the litany of booze-fuelled incidents which would later threaten to derail the striker’s career.
Rather more sweet is Carroll's heartfelt endorsement of The Jungle Book as "an unreal movie", and subsequent insistence on writing out almost all of the lyrics to 'The Bare Necessities.'
He’s quite endearingly self-effacing when he nonchalantly mentions that, while he does play for Newcastle, he is up for “anything really” in terms of sport. Meanwhile, a revealing admission about his phobia of snakes descends into the blue when he states that he isn’t talking about his own “snake.” It’s fairly safe to infer the teen Carroll is here referring to his penis, and his lack of fear of it, which is a slightly strange clarification to have to make.
The profile ends on a somewhat sombre note. In his ‘Happiest When’ section, young Andy says "if i am spending sum time with me gf if ive got 1" – a comment directly at odds with the emphatic “I am Single” line he had emblazoned under his basic info. This means that, at the time of writing, the 16-year-old was unable to spend sum time with a gf and therefore deprived of his happiness. Damn, son. Heavy.
The archive of the Welshman’s Bebo profile has been lost to the sands of time, but the profile picture and text still exist on several sites which captured it for posterity at the time:
Hi, im aaron i play football for Wales and cardiff city. Im about 6 foot with brown hair and brown eyes, like to go out with my m8s and familly! I live in Caerphilly a little town by Cardiff so if ya wanna get 2 know me more add me on msn firstname.lastname@example.org
i like alsorts of music but indie stands out for me and btw i dont like dance.
i never used to be a films type of person but i must admit i have bn watchin a few l8ly like die hard 4 n a few others that a cant think of rite naw.
nuthin im hard as nais.hmm wel sum say i am but i wouldnt like to cum that close to tarantulars if thats how u spell it.
with friends,familly. like it wen we go out n have a gd nite with al my m8.
A real stream-of-consciousness profile this. Of particular note: the fact that Aaron was a 2007 indie head who btw hated dance; that he couldn’t think of any other film beyond Die Hard 4 even when pressed; that he thought himself ‘hard as nais’ and that he was, frankly, not a fan of cumming near tarantulas.
MySpace have rejigged their website a bit since it’s mid-noughties pomp, so it’s impossible to know what tune Lallana had pumping when you went on his profile way back when, but thankfully the truly spectacular selection of pics are still out there in the public domain.
Lallana’s current midfield partner-in-crime Jordan Henderson was curating his own stellar pics back in the day, such as this one with “sum lad” with the longest face in the world, his “gawjuz girl” n himself.
In the first part of his profile, we learn the “gawjuz” girl’s name (Sarah), that ‘442’ (FourFourTwo)’s ‘Top 20 Players Under 21’ was quite an accurate list, and that a young Jordan was excited to play the “scum” game (presumably against Newcastle??)
Here we learn, even more intriguingly, that Henderson idolised Carlos Edwards for some reason.
The Spurs man is only 23 now, which means he was basically just a twinkle in his dad’s nuts when he would have first set up his hattrickh8 MySpace profile. Of all the profiles featured so far, Kane’s is perhaps the most strange, as he looks the most like a regular schoolboy and the least like he had any aptitude or even glimmer of ability to turn into a professional footballer, let alone one of the country’s best forwards in years.
Here he is looking like a tagalong lad who doesn’t understand exactly why his mates are posing with the Warren Street sign, but knows there is some level of banter operating here and that he’d be a fool not to join in.
Here he is posing for the mildest school trip snap ever committed to celluloid.
And finally, here he is with cartoon whiskers drawn on his face. That boy is now one of the most prolific goalscorers in world football. Imagine seeing this pop-up in your feed at the time and having any inkling that that would ever happen. You wouldn’t think “this whiskered boy looks like he’ll turn into England’s biggest hope, I should become mates with him now”, you’d think “christ, this whiskered boy looks like a total loser.”
A profound lesson.