Nantwich Town’s Steve Jones believes that non-league football is an excellent place for Football League club’s to sign talented young players.
The former Northern Ireland international has played with Josh Gordon and Cohen Bramall, who in recent weeks have both made the step up to the Premier League.
Gordon last week signed for Premier League winners Leicester City from Stafford Rangers and Bramall joined Arsenal from Hednesford Town in the January transfer window.
Jones said: “It’s a goldmine you can pick a lot of gems in there.
“If you turn the stones then you can find them. For example, my old club Crewe Alexandra has always picked up gems from non-league football.
“I think if you dig deep then you can find them and give professional contracts to them.
“I mean Josh Gordon has gone to Leicester City and Cohen Bramall has gone onto play for Arsenal. I’m sure there is a lot more out there.”
The former Alex hero himself was snapped up by a non-league club when he joined the Cheshire side from Leigh RMI in 2001 in a deal worth up to £140,000 for the now defunct club.
Jones believes that anyone can make the step up providing they follow his advice.
The 40-year-old said: “As I say if you work hard and are dedicated then you can achieve anything.
“Some people say there is a fine line between making it and not making it, they are right, if you are dedicated and work hard week in week out then club’s are going to see that, look at Gordon and Bramall they have worked hard and they have made the step up.”
This season has seen a number of players leave the non-league game for the Football League and even the Premier League, only yesterday (10th April) Middlesbrough signed Blyth Spartans man Luke Armstrong.
However, despite everyone buzzing off the Jamie Vardy story and club’s not wanting to miss out on the next big thing from the non-league game, the former AFC Telford United man believes that more could be done to bring through players in the professional game.
He said: “It would be nice for clubs to give them a chance.
“There are some good fit lads in the Northern Premier League and all they sometimes need is someone to coach them right in particular tactical awareness.
“So I think there should be more time invested in that area then they could really blossom.”