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Five notable Premier League stars who came through the non-league

Bengaluru, Sep 6: Premier League arguably is one of the topmost competitions in world football if not the best and certainly for millions of young English footballers, the ultimate dream is to compete there.

Most of England's best players are spotted early and come through a top club's academy before being sucked straight into Premier League life but with huge scouting networks, many players still rise from semi-pro football to the domestic game's summit.

Here we look at five such names who had small beginnings but has made it big in the Premier League:

1) Jamie Vardy

Maybe the most popular name in the block in English football, Vardy's rise to the top tier is nothing but extraordinary. He was originally on the books of Sheffield Wednesday as a teenager but was released at 16. He then tried his luck slowly in non-league sides, at first starting his career with Stocksbridge Park Steels before moving to Halifax Town in the Northern Premier League in 2010.

A successful 25-goal stint at Halifax then followed by a transfer to Fleetwood Town in 2011, where he scored in 31 league goals land him his big move to then-Championship team Leicester City for a fee of £1 million - a record for non-league football. He played a key role in Leicester's Championship victory in 2014 and a season later was the star player in helping the side a miraculous Pl trophy in the 2015-16 season. He also represented England in Euro 2016 before being retired this year from national colours.

2) Joe Hart

Currently the Burnley shot-stopper, the English goalkeeper started his career as a professional in 2003-04, in non-league football with Shrewsbury Town. His potential, however, was too bright not to come out. Knowing his talent, Manchester City pulled him out of the mire in 2006. However, he took few loan spells to establish himself as a regular but once he got into the line-up it was hard to dislodge him. Two league titles and one golden glove medal, he arguably has been one of the big names to come out of age from lower-tier football.

3) Chris Smalling

Smalling's climbing from non-league to the top of the game must be one of the fastest in history. Having achieved his A-levels while playing for Maidstone he was soon snatched away by Fulham for an initial £10,000 fee. But just after two Premier League starts Manchester United scouted him and signed him for £2m. After nine years, two league titles and one Europa League trophy, this season he has moved to Italy with Roma with a new challenge.

4) Les Ferdinand

Many strikers have made the step up from non-league to Premier League, but as of no one comes close to this English forward in terms of the scoring chart. After starting out at non-league side Hayes and Southall, Ferdinand started to shine after signing for QPR later Newcastle and Tottenham and still remains in the top 10 Premier League scorers of all time.

5) Charlie Austin

Austin was playing semi-professional football for Poole Town in the Wessex League Premier Division as recently as 2009 alongside making wages by working as a bricklayer with his dad's building firm on the side. However, after scoring 46 goals in 46 games for Poole he was snapped up by Swindon Town. He was on target there as well, scoring 31 goals in 54 games for Swindon before moving on to Burnley of the Championship and eventually signing for QPR helping them gaining promotion which was the turning point in his career. In his first season in the Premier League, he finished as the fourth-highest scorer with 18 goals he later signed for Southampton which he left only this season for West Brom.

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Story first published: Friday, September 6, 2019, 14:17 [IST]
Other articles published on Sep 6, 2019
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