Footballers used to play for non-league teams


Either way, at one stage or another, non-league football has been home to some very famous footballers.
During his time at Pompey, the centre-back went out on loan to non-league Aldershot Town and made 24 appearances for the Shots in 2013/14.
Before joining Portsmouth, Whittingham played for non-league sides Waterlooville and Yeovil Town.
Kevin Phillips(Image credit: Getty Images)Kevin Phillips famously scored 30 Premier League goals for Sunderland in the 1999/2000 season.
At non-league Baldock Town, Phillips was playing as a defender when an injury crisis saw him move into the attack.
While working as a bricklayer, Deeney played for non-league side Chelmsley Town for two years.
Bull started out at non-league club Tipton Town, whose manager recommended him to West Brom.
Prior to that, he had combined playing for non-league club Wealdstone with his training and work as an electrician.
Lee Sharpe(Image credit: Getty Images)Lee Sharpe made 243 appearances for Manchester United in a hugely successful spell at Old Trafford, before moving to Leeds in 1996.
Les Ferdinand(Image credit: Getty Images)Before spells at Queen’s Park Rangers, Newcastle and Tottenham, Les Ferdinand started his career in non-league football with Viking Sports.

Some people worked their way up from the bottom. Later in their careers, some people gave up. purely out of passion for the game.

In any case, a number of extremely well-known football players have called non-league football home at some point.

A look at a few of the well-known athletes who have played for teams at the bottom of the football hierarchy.

33. Adam Brody.

Image sourced from Getty Images.

Adam Webster played for Portsmouth, Ipswich Town, and Bristol City before going on to become a key member of Brighton & Hove Albion.

The center back played 24 games for the Shots in 2013–14 while on loan from Pompey to non-league Aldershot Town.

31. Beasant Dave.

Picture courtesy of Getty Images.

Dave Beasant, who played for England in the 1990 World Cup, made history in the FA Cup final by stopping John Aldridge’s penalty kick in Wimbledon’s 1-0 victory over Liverpool in 1988. He was also the first goalkeeper to save a penalty in the competition.

Along with stints at Chelsea, Newcastle, Nottingham Forest, Southampton, and Wimbledon, Beasant spent nine years at the tennis club. But both of his non-league football debuts and final games were with North Greenford United in 2013 and local team Edgware Town in 1978–79.

30. Novo Nacho.

Image sourced from Getty Images.

Despite having started his career in Spain, Nacho Novo gained recognition in Scotland during his six-year tenure at Rangers and two seasons at Dundee.

After spending a season with Glentoran in Northern Ireland, Novo ended his career in 2017. However, the forward from Spain returned to the field in 2020 to play for Biggleswade United, a non-league team.

29). Guy Whittingham.

Image sourced from Getty Images.

During his two stints on the south coast, Guy Whittingham was a prolific goal scorer for Portmouth, scoring 42 league goals in 1992–1993, the year Pompey just missed out on promotion to the Premier League.

Whittingham played for non-league teams Yeovil Town and Waterlooville prior to joining Portsmouth. Subsequent to his initial departure from Fratton Park, the striker spent stints in the Premier League with Leicester City and Sheffield Wednesday.

29. Philips, Kevin.

(Photo courtesy of Getty Images).

In the 1999–2000 season, Kevin Phillips made headlines for Sunderland by scoring thirty goals in the Premier League. Still, he wasn’t even a striker when he first started out.

When Phillips’s injuries forced him to switch to the attack at non-league Baldock Town, he was a defender. He signed with Watford after scoring twice in his debut match. Phillips participated in eight England games while he was a Sunderland player.

26. Troy Neely.

(Photo courtesy of Getty Images).

Troy Deeney, who was born in Birmingham, declined Aston Villa’s invitation to a four-day trial when he was fifteen years old because he knew there would be a match on the last day. There was no contract offered to him.

Deeney spent two years playing for Chelmsley Town, a non-league team, while he was employed as a bricklayer. He signed with Walsall in 2006, but he also spent a while on loan at Halesowen Town, another non-league team. He was at Watford for 11 years after leaving Walsall in 2010.

26. Trevor Brooks.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

Legendary for West Ham, Trevor Brooking was an England midfielder who played his whole career at Upton Park, where he amassed over 500 appearances and two FA Cup victories.

In 1984, Brooking, who had also received 47 caps for his country, concluded his career by playing for several amateur teams. His playing career included six appearances for Kelmscott in Western Australia, two stints for Cork City, one game for Manurewa in New Zealand, and one Wearside League appearance for Blue Star.

25. Bull Steve.

Image sourced from Getty Images.

Although offered opportunities to play in the premier league, Steve Bull remained faithful to Wolves for nearly his whole career, becoming a legend at Molineux.

Bull began his career at non-league Tipton Town, where his manager gave him a recommendation to West Brom. After joining the Baggies, the former England striker was quickly traded to Wolves in what turned out to be a grave mistake of judgment. Bull briefly played in the Conference with Hereford United two years after departing from Molineux.

24. Julian Dicks.

(Photo courtesy of Getty Images).

After a brief stay at Liverpool, Julian Dicks spent two extended periods of time as a fan favorite at West Ham. Throughout his brilliant career, the left-back was unfortunate not to earn an England cap.

Dicks was out of retirement for two years after making his second departure from West Ham in 1999. He played for non-league Canvey Island and assisted the team in eliminating two league teams—Wigan Athletic and Northampton Town—from the FA Cup.

23. Stuart Pearce.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

Stuart Pearce was a seasoned left-back who had been playing for Nottingham Forest for a few years before he rose to prominence in the mid-1980s.

Pearce worked at Coventry City for two years prior to joining Forest. Before that, he had balanced his training as an electrician with his career as a player for non-league Wealdstone. Afterwards, he earned 78 caps for England.

22. Arca Julio.

(Photo courtesy of Getty Images).

Born in Argentina, Julio Arca competed for his country at the youth level before relocating to the northeast of England, where he spent extended periods of time playing for Middlesbrough and Sunderland.

After serving as a midfielder or wing-back for non-league South Shields from 2015 to 2018, Arca went on to manage the sixth-tier team.

22. The John Barnes.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

One day, a cab driver saw John Barnes playing for Sudbury Court in the Middlesex League and told a scout about him. He was soon en route to Watford.

Barnes joined the Hornets in 1981 following a fruitful trial match for Watford’s reserves. A package of kits is the cost. The winger went on to become a legend at Watford and Liverpool, and he was among the best players in England during the 1980s and 1990s.

20. Smalling, Chris.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

Despite playing in just 19 games for Fulham, center back Chris Smalling made an impression on the team and went on to play for Manchester United for ten years. Additionally, during that time, England gave him 31 caps.

Smalling played in the Isthmian League Premier Division for Maidstone United before joining Craven Cottage. After leaving Manchester United, he joined Roma, a Serie A team, and the two won the Europa Conference League.

19. Armstrong Gerry.

(Photo courtesy of Getty Images).

During his 63 appearances for Northern Ireland, Gerry Armstrong scored 12 goals, including the most well-known goal in the history of the country—a winning goal against Spain in the 1982 World Cup.

The forward spent time playing for Tottenham, Watford, Real Madrid, and Brighton at the club level. He left the Seagulls and later returned to the area to work as a player-manager at Worthing, a minor league team. He also had a brief career ending at Whitehawk.

18. The Pascal Chimbonda.

(Photo courtesy of Getty Images).

After joining the France team that finished second in the 2006 World Cup, Pascal Chimbonda won a League Cup while he was at Tottenham.

The left-back played for a number of non-league teams, including Washington, Ashton Town, and Skelmersdale United—the latter of which served as player-manager—after a protracted career spent in both France and England.

17. Jeremy Pennant.

(Photo courtesy of Getty Images).

During his illustrious career, Jermaine Pennant played for Tottenham, Liverpool, Arsenal, India, Singapore, and Spain before landing at non-league Billericay Town.

In 2017, he said to The Guardian, “I’ve seen things in football I don’t think anyone else has seen.”. After just 15 appearances over four months, the winger departed the Essex-based team.

16. Merson Paul.

Picture courtesy of Getty Images.

During his successful tenure at Arsenal, Paul Merson—one of the most gifted midfielders of his generation—assisted the team in winning two First Division titles.

Merson earned 21 caps for England and also played for Middlesbrough, Portsmouth, and Aston Villa. Afterwards, he made short stints at Tamworth, Welshpool Town, Caerau, and Hanworth Villa, non-league teams.

15. Joe Hart.

Image sourced from Getty Images.

Joe Hart began his career with his hometown team, Shrewsbury Town, long before he played for England and won the Premier League with Manchester City.

Prior to moving to City in 2006, Hart made his first two appearances for the Shrews in the Conference. He later established himself as first choice in League Two.

14. Bolasie Yannick.

Picture courtesy of Getty Images.

Throughout his career, Yannick Bolasie has played football for non-league teams as well as Crystal Palace, Everton, Aston Villa, and Portugal in addition to Malta, Turkey, Belgium, and Portugal.

Originating from France, the winger, who plays for the DR Congo national team, started his career at Hillingdon Borough. While at Plymouth Argyle, he also had stints on loan at Rushden & Diamonds, where he was once a youth player, and Barnet.

13. Jordan Pickard.

Picture courtesy of Getty Images.

Jordan Pickford had several loan stints out of the Stadium of Light during his early Sunderland years, including stints at non-league Darlington and Alfreton Town.

The England goalkeeper played for those teams for a total of 29 games. Later, when discussing his 2012 debut at Darlington, he remarked, “I started becoming a man from that day.”. “.

Twelve. The Lee Sharpe.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

Before moving to Leeds in 1996, Lee Sharpe had a very successful tenure at Old Trafford, making 243 appearances for Manchester United.

After a brief stint in Iceland’s second division with Grindavik, the winger’s later years were marked by injury and less success. He later played for Kidderminster Sunday League side Hoobrook Crown and concluded his career at non-league Garforth Town in the Northern Counties East Premier League.

11. The Tanguy Ndombele.

(Photo courtesy of Getty Images).

After leaving Lyon as one of the most sought-after players in Europe, Tanguy Ndombele became the club’s record signing in the summer of 2019 when he signed for £63 million.

However, the midfield player was a member of Amiens B, who competed in the Championnat National 3, the fifth division of French football, from 2014 to 2016.

10. Callie Wilson.

Image sourced from Getty Images.

Callum Wilson came through the Coventry City youth system and was loaned by the Sky Blues to Kettering Town and Tamworth, two Conference Premier clubs.

After six years on the south coast, the England striker signed a contract with Newcastle United in 2020. He had previously moved to Bournemouth in 2014.

9. Matt, the Tissier.

Image sourced from Getty Images.

Over the course of his career, Matt Le Tissier turned down several offers to stay with Southampton from elite Premier League teams like Tottenham, Chelsea, and Liverpool.

After more than 500 Saints appearances and 200 goals, Le Tissier left the team in 2002 and spent some time with Eastleigh, a fifth-tier team. In 2013, he made one appearance for his birthplace of Guernsey.

8. Paul Scholes.

Image sourced from Getty Images.

Paul Scholes was a member of Manchester United for his entire professional career; in fact, he came out of retirement to serve the team again before he retired in 2013.

Later in 2018, the ex-England midfielder participated in three games for his son’s Royton Town team in the Manchester Football League Premier Division.

7. Les Ferdinand.

Image sourced from Getty Images.

Les Ferdinand began his career in non-league football with Viking Sports and later played for Queen’s Park Rangers, Newcastle, and Tottenham.

After moving to Southall, the former England striker made it to the FA Vase final in 1986. He was noticed by QPR and signed a £50,000 contract with the Hoops in 1987 after netting 20 goals in 42 games for Hayes.

6. Michael Antonio.

Picture courtesy of Getty Images.

Michail Antonio started out in non-league football long before he became the all-time top scorer for West Ham in the Premier League and the Irons’ Europa Conference League champion.

At the age of seventeen, Antonio made his debuts at Tooting and Mitcham United. In 2008, he joined Reading. Following several loan stints, the £7 million acquisition saw the Jamaican international play for Sheffield Wednesday, Nottingham Forest, and finally West Ham.

5. George Cox.

Picture courtesy of Getty Images.

After leaving Manchester in 1974, George Best played for a number of teams across the country, including Cork Celtic, Bournemouth, Fulham, Hibenian, Brisbane Lions, and Los Angeles Aztecs.

Still, non-league Dunstable Town was his first port of call. Best was invited to play for the non-league team by manager Barry Fry, who was shocked when he accepted to play in two friendlies. At the time, the club was at the bottom of Southern League Division One North with attendances below fifty. The reserves of Manchester United faced off against Cork Celtic in the first match. Countless people stared in shock. In order to raise money for the players, Best went on to play a third game against Luton Town.

4. Socrates.

(Photo courtesy of Getty Images).

In addition to playing a pivotal role in Brazil’s memorable 1982 World Cup team, Socrates was an unconventional football player and cult hero known for his carefree approach to training.

Owner Simon Clifford convinced the fifty-year-old Socrates to play for non-league Garforth Town in 2004 despite his heavy drinking and smoking habits. Despite signing for a month, the renowned playmaker only played 12 minutes for the west Yorkshire club in a 2-2 draw with Tadcaster. “I had a terrible headache as soon as I stepped outside because it was much too cold. I simply can’t get used to it,” he remarked.

3. Chris Waddle.

Image sourced from Getty Images.

During his illustrious career, which included stints at Newcastle, Tottenham, Marseille, and Sheffield Wednesday, Chris Waddle earned 62 caps for England. Yet he needed to begin at the very bottom.

The winger played for non-league Tow Law Town and worked in food processing at a seasoning factory. In 1980, at the age of 19, he signed a £1,000.-a-year contract with Newcastle following fruitless trials with Sunderland and Coventry City. He then played two seasons for non-league Worksop Town before having short stints with the 10th division of English football’s Hallam, Stocksbridge Park Steels, and Glapwell.

2. Jamie Vardy.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

Although Jamie Vardy was a key player in Leicester City’s 2015–16 Premier League title win, the England international had never played in the major leagues before joining the Foxes in 2012.

Vardy played for Stocksbridge Park Steels after being released by his childhood team, Sheffield Wednesday, and then had stints at Halifax Town and Fleetwood Town. His £1 million reported transfer from the Conference club to Leicester set a non-league record.

1. Ian Wright.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

Throughout his brilliant seven-year tenure with Arsenal, Ian Wright scored 185 goals in 288 games, making him a beloved fan and local legend.

The former England striker played for Sunday League team Ten-em-Bee until he turned 21. In 1985, he signed with non-league Greenwich Borough after spending seven seasons at Crystal Palace. He relocated to Palace later in the year, earning £30 a week, and he never looked back.

Leave a Reply

scroll to top