After his outstanding displays during the 2007 European U21 Championships, Netherlands forward Maceo Rigters was touted for success at the highest level.
But failing to live up to the early hype, his decline was swift and after falling off the football radar resurfaced for a Dutch amateur side with his best years well behind him.
He was a product of the highly successful Ajax Youth Academy and started his career at SC Heerenveen, making only two first team appearances between 2002 and 2004. For the following season, he was on the books of FC Dordrecht where 17 league appearances and an eight goal return put him on the goalscoring radar.
His impressive goals-to-games ratio alerted NAC Breda who were scouring for a striker, so they snapped him up for an undisclosed fee on the 1st of January 2005.
In his two seasons at the Rat Verlegh Stadion he could not replicate the form he produced at Dordrecht, and despite turning out over 60 times for Breda, the return was a paltry five goals.
His rise to prominence came in the summer 2007 European U21 Championships, as a late addition to the squad and was the surprise package in a team that contained Ryan Babel, Royston Drenthe and Hedwiges Maduro.
During the tournament, he was a constant goal threat and his overhead kick against England on 19 minutes showed his talent.
His leveller in the 1-1 match earned the Jong Oranje a penalty shoot-out which they subsequently won 13-12.
They eventually went on to defeat Serbia 4-1 in the final, and he scored his fourth and final goal of the tournament by rounding the Serbian goalkeeper on 67 minutes to put the Netherlands three up.
With a tally of four goals he was awarded the tournament’s Golden Boot – just edging out Leroy Lita who scored three times for England.
“It’s fantastic, I didn’t expect it to be this way, but I’m very glad to have managed this,” said Rigters on collecting his Golden Boot.
”I want to thank the coach for giving me this chance. It’s a great feeling and I’m proud to have achieved this, but it’s also thanks to the team, I got some great assists.”
”The atmosphere in the dressing room is fantastic, and I just want to get back there as soon as possible!”
Once the tournament was over, he was named in the UEFA Team of the Tournament and his U21 displays saw the likes of Celtic, Rangers, Newcastle and Norwich courting him before earning a big-money move to Blackburn Rovers.
On 2 July 2007 he was reported to have signed for Rovers for an undisclosed fee, but it was reputed to be around £3 million and on a four-year contract.
“We’ve been following him for some time after manager Mark Hughes identified him as a player he was interested in,” said Blackburn chairman John Williams on his capture.
Much was expected of the striker at the Lancashire club, but he was restricted to just two UEFA matches, one as a substitute against FK Vėtra in July’s Intertoto Cup and his first start in August against MyPa in the UEFA Cup first round.
September 2007 saw Rigters’ Premier League debut and his last match of the year, as he played his second and final league game for Rovers in February 2008.
Taking part in only two league and two European matches over seven months, he joined Championship side Norwich City on loan until the close of the 2007-08 season.
He appeared twice as a substitute, and his loan spell went from bad to terrible as he tore his hamstring 15 minutes into his second and last outing for the Canaries.
The following season faired no better, with limited chances Blackburn manager Paul Ince authorised a season-long loan at Barnsley for him.
Appearing in 19 games he did not manage to score in the league, but scored a goal in the League and FA Cup, and despite having two years of his Rovers contract left he was given permission to pursue other avenues.
He trialled with League One’s Southend United, where he played two games and was touted as being part of the team to face Sheffield Wednesday in their upcoming friendly.
Unfortunately Shrimpers’ manager Steve Tilson decided against the move, so he travelled to New Zealand for a trial with Wellington Phoenix, and ended up signing for Gold Coast United.
It was a decent season for him but being unable to make the grade in the Netherlands, England or Australia, he disappeared in 2012, but was last seen overweight and nowhere near a pro comeback, playing for amateur side Amsterdam ZSGOWMS in January 2015 – information on whether he is still pulling on the boots is sparse.
He had the proverbial world at his feet, and now aged 33 his professional footballing career is light years behind him, and it appears to have been backed by just the one good tournament in his youth.