In spring 1997 two teenage strikers appeared for the first time on either side of the Merseyside football divide.
AT ANFIELD, the fleet-footed Michael Owen was regarded as the club’s best prospect since Robbie Fowler some years earlier; at Goodison, Danny Cadamarteri, Bradford-born but of exotic parentage, had impressed for the youth team and with his guile and abundant pace when appearing on the last day of the 1996/97 season against Chelsea. And while his arrival was unheralded by comparison to Owen’s, when the two youngsters came face-to-face in the Goodison derby it was Cadamarteri who thoroughly overshadowed his Liverpudlian rival. After terrorising the Liverpool defence all afternoon with his dribbling, 15 minutes from the end he ran clear of Bjørn Tore Kvame, checked and struck a fierce low drive past David James to seal a 2-0 win.
Invariably dubbed ‘Cadamagic’, the young tyro was rewarded with a lucrative contract and seemed to have a glittering career ahead of him. Incredibly quick and agile, the sight of the dreadlocked teenager running at an opponent’s defence was something to behold.
And yet something went badly wrong in Danny Cadamarteri’s career. For sure, it didn’t help that he was initially expected to make his mark in the worst Everton team in modern history; nor that Walter Smith – who seemed to struggle in his man-management of Everton’s youngsters – became manager in the summer of 1998. Injuries also stunted Cadamarteri’s progress and he put on weight. The nadir came when he went on trial in 2001 and was found guilty of assaulting a woman outside a Liverpool nightclub and fined.
Still aged only 22 when he was released from Everton in 2002 he traversed the lower leagues, but struggled to make his mark. In 2006 he failed a drugs test and despite pleading his innocence, claiming it was attributable to a flu remedy, received a six-month ban from football. He made a return with Leicester City after a spell in non-league, but as time draws to an end on what should have been a glittering career, Danny Cadamarteri will surely rue his wasted opportunities.