The Rundown

18 stars who suddenly vanished from the face of planet sport

The Rundown

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Huge things were expected from David Bentley as a youth star at Arsenal and when Tottenham paid £15 million for the England international back in 2008.

But having not played for over a year following a spell in Russia with FC Rostov, the winger broke down in tears as he announced his retirement from the sport at the age of just 29, explaining that he had "fallen out of love with the game".

"I've fallen out of love with the game," Bentley told Sky Sports News. "The game has changed a lot - when I first started playing it was more about enjoying it, y ou went into work every day and it was brilliant.

"Now it's a little bit robotic - with the social media side of it and the money that has come into the game - I hate to say it but it's made it boring, it's made it predictable and a bit too calculated."

But Bentley is far from alone in having dropped like the proverbial stone after making a very promising start to his career.

Here are other very notable bright young stars who simply fizzled out and disappeared without trace.

Anthony Kim - golfer

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Anthony Kim with Tiger Woods

US Ryder Cup star Anthony Kim burst onto the scene in the mid-2000s, won several tournaments and millions of dollars, became the sixth highest-ranked player in the world, and was the key player last time the US won the Ryder Cup. He is still just 28-years-old, but has not even played golf for fun in years and has now dropped out of the world's top 1000.

Freddy Adu - footballer

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The American former child prodigy, who shot to prominence 10 years ago when he became the youngest ever player to appear in a USA professional sport for DC United, was once dubbed "the next Pele". After horror spells in Portugal, France, Turkey and Brazil, he is now training as a free agent with, fittingly, a once-hyped club at Blackpool.

Michelle Smith - swimmer

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Back in 1996, Ireland still did not have an Olympic-sized swimming pool, yet they boasted of the best swimmer in the world after Michelle Smith won three gold medals and a bronze at the Atlanta Olympics. Reportedly promised many sponsorship deals during the Games, Smith found they were not forthcoming after accusations of drug-taking were made against her. To this day, Smith refuses to talk about her swimming career and, despite never being stripped of her four Olympic medals, is rarely mentioned in conversations regarding Ireland's greatest sports stars.

Jelena Dokic - tennis player

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After reaching a career-high number four in the world rankings in 2002 and highlighted as a player likely to make a serious tilt at picking up a host of Grand Slam titles over the coming years, Dokic's fall from grace on and off the court was brutally swift. By 2005, at the age of just 21, she was in virtual retirement and estranged from her family while trying to rebuild her personal life. Problems with her incredibly volatile father Damir caught the headlines and her highly-promising tennis career was left in tatters.

David Duval - golfer

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The American won The Open, became world number one (dislodging Tiger Woods) but then crashed out of the world's top 100 and could barely hit a ball. He very occasionally shows amazing flashes of what might have been, almost winning the US Open in 2009 but coming second, however it's just not what everyone had in mind earlier on.

Ian Baker-Finch - golfer

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The once wildly popular Australian golfer once shot an incredible 66 to win The Open at Royal Birkdale. But after the highest of highs, he very famously lost his game almost completely - and in a desperate attempt to rediscover it, nearly lost his mind. After success in the world's biggest golf tournament came... well, nothing.

Anna Kournikova - tennis player

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The Russian superstar made her professional debut at the age of just 14 in the Fed Cup for Russia, the youngest player ever to participate and win. She reached the semi-finals of Wimbledon in 1997, but then her sporting career took a dive. Her appearance and celebrity status made her a huge name worldwide but without a singles title to her name.

Marcus Dupree - NFL player

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In 1981, college athletic recruiting changed forever as a dozen big-time football programs sat waiting for the decision by the physically powerful and lightning-quick high school running back Dupree. What sadly ensued, however, was a forgettable college career littered with conflict, injury and oversized expectations. The story has now become the focus of an ESPN documentary entitled, 'The best that never was'.

Arturo Lupoli - footballer

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Lupoli signed a professional contract with Arsenal in 2004 after joining from Parma and was swiftly hailed as the 'next big thing' with Thierry Henry declaring him to be "a proper goalscorer". Sadly nothing ever materialised for the Italian, who swapped Championship spells for Serie B in a long, winding and miserable journey through football's 'other' leagues.

Toto Schillaci - footballer

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Schillaci became famous worldwide after scoring six goals to clinch the golden boot as Italy narrowly missed out on glory at home in the 1990 World Cup, but he proceeded to flop spectacularly in Serie A the following season before an ill-fated stint at Inter saw him very quickly lose his place in the national team.

Tim Tebow - NFL player

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In 2007, quarterback Tim Tebow set off 'Tebowmania' by winning the Heisman Trophy for the University of Florida, picking up two national championships. He then topped off a 316-yard performance with a game-winning touchdown pass against the Pittsburgh Steelers - then the NFL's top defense - in a memorable play-off triumph for the Denver Broncos. Since then the polarising player has been cut by the New York Jets and the New England Patriots with his NFL career left in tatters.

Jeremy Lin - NBA player

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There is nothing like the sporting overnight sensation, particularly in America. However, when the novelty wears off the sensation in question can be left in a nasty state. Houston Rockets point guard Jeremy Lin looks to be forever cursed by having to live up to the month-long shadow hanging over himself from New York in 2012.

Michael Johnson - footballer

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The 25-year-old former England U21 star - who once attracted a £10m bid from Liverpool, and who was tipped to become one of the best midfielders in the country - had to be released from his £40,000-a-week contract with Manchester City last year. He had signed a five-year contract with City worth £2 million a year in 2009 and was still 18 months away from the end of that deal when he was let go, but - after suffering from mental health problems - two drink-driving offences and weight problems left the club with little option but to send the former starlet on his way.

Sam Bowie - NBA player

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A national sensation in high school and outstanding college player he may have been, Sam Bowie will, however, always be remembered as 'the fateful pick' made by the Portland Trailblazers in the 1984 NBA draft ahead of the legendary Michael Jordan. Regarded as perhaps the single most colossal blunder in the history of the sport, Bowie failed to remain healthy, let alone justify the team's decision with sparkling displays on the court.

Alex Tudor - cricketer

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As a 21-year-old, the imposing fast bowler was branded the 'King of the crease all-rounder' by the BBC following a superb 99 not out as a lower-order player to take England to victory over New Zealand at Edgbaston. It was the best ever score by an English nightwatchman and huge things were suddenly expected for him. However, he would only play in 10 Tests for England, taking 28 wickets. Has spent the last four years playing for local teams. For the Cricket Writers' Young Cricketer of the Year it was quite a fall from grace.

John Jensen - footballer

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After coming to the attention of British football fans when he scored an absolute screamer for Denmark against Germany in the final of Euro 92, Arsenal thought they had secured the services of a world-class goalscorer. Sadly that did not come to fruition as it took the Dane a full 98 games to finally score with 'I saw John Jensen score' t-shirts released.

Bison Dele (formerly Brian Williams) - NBA player

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An NBA player who did not just disappear off the face of planet sport, but off planet earth in what is a very sad story. An oddball character, he suddenly walked away from sport in perplexing fashion at the age of 30 despite having over $36m left on his contract. He once reportedly dated Madonna too. In 1998 he changed his name to Bison Dele and is believed to have been murdered at sea by his older brother in 2002.

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