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Players from Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool are in an XI of players who have worked their way up from non-league to Premier League.
Most of England’s best players are discovered early on and get through a top club academy before being thrown directly into Premier League life, but it doesn’t always work that way.
And here are 11 players who actually played in non-league before beating their name up to the top level.
GK: Joe Hart
Hart has won the Premier League, League Cup and FA Cup and played in the Champions League, World Cup and European Championships, but he actually got his senior debut for Conference outfit Shrewsbury Town.
He bowed as a 17-year-old and spent three years on Shrewbury’s first team before joining Manchester City in 2006.
RB: Michail Antonio
While Antonio now plays as a striker, he joins this team as a right back and is a worthy candidate for almost any position due to his versatility.
Since joining the Hammers from Nottingham Forest, Antonio has taken to the Premier League as a duck to the water, which is even more impressive given that he made his name in the eighth row of English football and scored 30 goals in 45 matches for Tooting & Mitcham United. .
🗣 “The man who had a lawsuit in Tottenham as a 14-year-old enjoys tearing through them!”
Michail Antonio has done it again for West Ham 🔥
– Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) October 24, 2021
CB: Chris Smalling
Smalling’s rise from non-league to top of the game must be one of the fastest in history.
After completing his A-levels while playing for Maidstone, the center-back suddenly found himself joining Fulham for an initial £ 10,000 fee.
Only two Premier League starts later and an agreement had been reached for Smalling to join Manchester United.
This football thing sounds good easy.
CB: Ashley Williams
Unlike Smalling, Williams is a great example of a player who has worked his way up in the leagues.
Williams’ job included working as a gas station attendant and serving at a Beefeater restaurant while playing for Hednesford Town before entering the Football League with Stockport County.
After playing for Swansea City and Everton in his Premier League career, he is unlikely to wait on the tables again for a while.
LB: Steve Finnan
Switching Finnan from right back to left back for this side is quite appropriate considering that the Irishman made his name as one of the most reliable players in the country.
Ten years before joining Liverpool, where he would continue to win the Champions League, Finnan played for Welling United after being released by Wimbledon.
RW: Jamie Vardy
Given the wealth of talent available up front for this side, Vardy has to settle for a spot on the right wing, but since his story is literally a Hollywood blockbuster, it’s impossible to omit him.
Vardy’s start with Stocksbridge, Halifax and Fleetwood in the non-league is well known, but even after reaching Leicester, he barely made the trip to the Premier League as he considered quitting football to become a holiday representative in Ibiza.
CM: Jimmy Bullard
One of English football’s most beloved figures, Bullard’s cheeky demeanor remained to him from his days in the non-league with Corinthian-Casuals, Dartford and Gravesend and Northfleet.
After helping Wigan to the top spot in 2005, he stayed there for six years and is responsible for one of the biggest celebrations ever.
READ: An ode to Jimmy Bullard who treats football as seriously as we all should
CM: Sam Clucas
After a stint at Glenn Hoddle’s Football Academy, Clucas spent a season in Spanish clothes at Jerez Industrial before returning to England with Hereford United.
He went on to score in the National League, League Two, League One, Championship and Premier League in consecutive seasons.
NB: Yannick Bolasie
Everton made Bolasie a £ 25million player in 2016 after signing him from Crystal Palace, but the winger has had an incredibly varied career after starting with Hillingdon Borough before spending a season in the Maltese Premier League.
The winger has not forgotten his roots and contacted Hillingdon in 2017 to offer his support to the club, which used to pay him one burger per goal.
READ: Remember when Yannick Bolasie was Crystal Palace’s great entertainer
An impressive number of strikers have taken the step up from non-league to Premier League, but this front two consists of two of the division’s biggest strikers ever.
After starting at Hayes, Ferdinand became a hero at QPR, Newcastle and Tottenham, and is number 11 on the list of top scorers in the Premier League through time.
ST: Ian Wright
Only a few fans could have foreseen what impact Wright would have at Arsenal after joining from Crystal Palace. Six years earlier, after all, the striker had played for Greenwich Borough.
But when he left Highbury, Wright was the best goal scorer in the club’s history and a bona fide legend.
More from Planet Football
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Matthew Briggs discusses the journey from Prem’s youngest player to the non-league