Players who progressed from Non-League to the Premier League
Most of the Premier League stars we watch today have started out at some form of an Academy, be it in the UK or abroad, after being picked up at a young age. From there, players go on to either progress into first team men’s football or, as is the case with most youngsters, are deemed not good enough and end up being released, with some finishing up in the lower echelons of football or, sadly, giving the game up altogether.
There is a different route into the professional game, though - via Non-League football and the opportunity to ply their trade in a less pressured environment but at a competitive level. Many players go on to thrive and kick-on again in their careers as footballers from there. Ramsgate fans have undoubtedly witnessed a few examples of this, for and against the side.
Non-League football is a tough slog for some, though, and there’s no doubting that many youngsters tied down to Premier League Academies would struggle to adapt to such surroundings - especially with the limited facilities and bumpy pitches on offer - but others feed off it and, for want of a better word, grow from boys to men. Such is the case at a side like Ramsgate, a youngster needs to be hungry to succeed, adapt to the more modest surroundings, knuckle down and kick on again from there.
Football in and around Ramsgate’s level is physically demanding, with heavy pitches in the winter and, with many sides being part-time at this level, it can be tough for any player to juggle their work and football life. It isn’t for everyone, that’s for sure.
Below is a list of some well known names, past and present, who have climbed up the ladder from Non-League football into the Premier League, where they have then gone on to forge successful careers as professional footballers. Inspirational, right?
Jamie Vardy’s climb up the divisions is nothing short of spectacular. Now at Leicester - who are currently priced at 11/20 (888sport) to finish in the top 10 of the Premier League this season, according to live betting odds online - the former England international has progressed from Non-League minnows Stocksbridge, to Halifax and now League One side Fleetwood, where he was then picked up by Leicester, who he famously won the Premier League with.
Jimmy Bullard, who now works as a presenter on Soccer AM, started his career in the Non-League game with the likes of Corinthian Casuals, Dartford and Gravesend and Northfleet. The cheeky chappy then went on to join West Ham United, kicking on further in his career from there at the likes of Wigan Athletic, Fulham, Hull City and Ipswich Town - who, incidentally, are 7/4 (888sport) to win promotion straight back to the Championship after their relegation into League One last season.
Before signing for Crystal Palace and then Arsenal, Ian Wright spent six years at tiny Non-League side Greenwich Borough. The rest is history, as they say, as Wright then went on to finish top goalscorer in Arsenal’s history and a cement himself as a club legend.
Now at Championship club Stoke City, Sam Clucas has played in all four of England’s professional divisions. He spent a season at Spanish outfit Jerez Industrial after a spell at Glenn Hoddle’s football academy, before returning to England with Hereford United.
Ten years before joining Liverpool, where he won the Champions League, Finnan was playing for Welling United after being released by Wimbledon.