'Life's too short': How Adam Johnson went from wonderkid to England winger before losing it all

The rise and fall: How Adam Johnson went from hero to zero
The rise and fall: How Adam Johnson went from hero to zero

On Monday February 1, 2010, Adam Johnson had the world at his feet.

The talented and highly-sought after winger, then aged 22, had just left Middlesbrough to sign for Manchester City in a multi-million pound deal.

Adam Johnson started his career at Middlesbrough, where he quickly caught the attention of Premier League managers.

Adam Johnson started his career at Middlesbrough, where he quickly caught the attention of Premier League managers.

Officially the fee for Johnson, raised in Easington, was undisclosed but around £7million had splashed out to secure his services.

Then City boss Roberto Mancini was delighted: "Adam is a very good player with fantastic potential, and as a club we are always keen to sign British talent."

Handed the No 11 shirt, the former England Under-21 international signed a four-year deal at Eastlands and looked set for a glittering career at heavyweights City.

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Pundits, coaches and managers alike were lauding Johnson as one of the players of his generation. Ambitious Johnson, meanwhile, was keen to leave his "comfort zone" at Boro.

Adam Johnson played among a team of superstars at Manchester City.

Adam Johnson played among a team of superstars at Manchester City.

"I want to be the best player I can possibly be and I think that is going to be the case coming to City and playing with world-class players," said Johnson on his unveiling.

"When a big club comes in for you life's too short to turn down an opportunity like this. I was wanting it to happen quite badly and I'm dying to get started now."

Johnson first caught the eye after working his way up through the academy at Middlesbrough, winning the FA Youth Cup during his six-year spell with the Teessiders.

In total the exciting winger, who enjoyed loan spells at Leeds United and Watford during his formative years, scored 16 goals in 120 games for Boro after making his debut in 2005.

Adam Johnson was capped by England as he became an international star.

Adam Johnson was capped by England as he became an international star.

But it was his form in the 2009-10 Championship season that led big-spending City to take him to the North West.

Johnson won the Premier League during his City spell, the 5ft 9in winger making 26 league appearances in their title-winning 2011-12 campaign.

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But despite that significant milestone in his career, he struggled for a consistent run in the side, no surprise given the embarrassment of riches Mancini had available.

During his time at Sunderland, Adam Johnson scored a number of crucial goals.

During his time at Sunderland, Adam Johnson scored a number of crucial goals.

He scored 15 goals in 97 games for City but 43 of those came as a substitute as he struggled to hold down a place.

And when Sunderland came calling in the summer of 2012, it proved too much of an emotional pull for Johnson - his 30-month stay at City over.

Sunderland, under manager Martin O'Neill, beat off competition from Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur to land Johnson on a four-year deal.

The Black Cats splashed out a significant £10million fee plus £60,000 a week on Johnson.

"He has terrific ability, great delivery and I'm sure he is a player who will excite our fans," beamed O'Neill.

Johnson's career had stalled at City, with the winger failing to fully recapture the early promise of his Middlesbrough days on a consistent basis.

Adam Johnson leaving court after he was found guilty of one count of sexual activity with a child.

Adam Johnson leaving court after he was found guilty of one count of sexual activity with a child.

In his first season at Sunderland he scored five goals in 41 appearances, the following year a more prolific 10 in 45 as the Black Cats reached the Capital One Cup final.

It sparked serious talk of an England recall ahead of World Cup 2014 in Brazil but the call never came as his form tailed off, with Sunderland finishing the season battling the drop.

In 2014-15 he scored just five goals in 36 appearances as Sunderland again found themselves in a relegation scrap, with just two goals from 20 games this season.

His impact in the Sunderland side lessened as his performances waned.

Johnson's last appearance in a Sunderland shirt was the 2-2 draw at Anfield, scoring direct from a free-kick as Sam Allardyce's side fought back to gain a point.

Johnson, who also won the FA Cup with City, made a career total 375 club appearances, scoring 58 times while also netting twice in 12 England appearances.

But Johnson's life and football career now lies in ruins.

The shamed 28-year-old was dropped by his sponsors and sacked by Sunderland after pleading guilty to grooming and sexual activity with a schoolgirl.

A jury then found him not guilty of one charge of sexual activity with a child but guilty of a further count of sexual activity with a child.

Johnson - now facing a lengthy prison sentence - has gone from being one of the country's brightest footballing talents to a registered sex offender.

A glittering career thrown away in a spectacular fall from grace.

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