There have been a lot of players over the last few years to make the jump from Non-League football to the Football League and Premier League.
Jamie Vardy, Charlie Austin, Chris Smalling, Troy Deeney, Andre Gray and more recently Che Adams have all managed to make the step up, just to name a few.
Adams attracted attention from a number of Football League and Premier League clubs whilst he was at Ilkeston Town, eventually sealing a move to Sheffield United in the summer of 2014. After impressing in League One, Birmingham City came calling and Adams made the switch to the Championship in 2016.
In this summer’s transfer window, the 20-year-old has been linked with a move to his hometown club Leicester, with Brighton and Hove Albion and Stoke City also reportedly interested in the former Coventry City youngster.
Fellow Leicester-born Non-League prospect Brady Hickey was also linked with Leicester, along with Middlesbrough after undergoing a trial with the Premier League champions last year. He stayed at Barwell for 2017, scoring 19 goals from midfield in the league, which again attracted interest from Leicester.
After completing his degree at Loughborough University, the 21-year-old now wants to prove himself at Nuneaton Town after completing the move the Warwickshire club from Barwell this summer.
“I enjoyed my football at Barwell and it was great for me to get to play at that standard while I was at university.”
“With my studies now over I wanted to go full-time, though, and I wanted to go somewhere where I knew I could get better.”
“For me, that had to be Nuneaton. I knew that Tommy was the kind of manager that would help me improve and I wanted to go there and do just that.”
After playing with both Brady and Che at St. Andrews as a youngster, it was clear they had what it takes to really push on and make an impact in English football. If all goes well at Nuneaton Borough, there’s no reason why we won’t be seeing Hickey join his old teammate in the England’s top divisions.
Arsenal beat the likes of Crystal Palace and Sheffield Wednesday to the signing of Hednesford Town left back Cohen Bramall in January, who has since trained with their U23 squad.
Arsene Wenger spoke highly of the 20-year-old when they signed him for a fee of around £40,000.
“Bramall is a young, promising left-back who has a lack of experience at the top level but who has fantastic ingredients,” said The Gunners manager.
Defender Dan Scarr, after impressing in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier Division for Stourbridge joins Adams at Birmingham City after completing a two-year deal in January. He made 84 appearances for the Glassboys and scored 11 goals including the equaliser against Wycombe in their memorable FA Cup run this season.
Gary Hackett, the boss at Stourbridge, was full of praise for the 22-year-old after his dream move to his boyhood club.
“I said to him at the start of the season that if he got his head down and worked hard he could be playing in the Football League, and not just at the lower levels.”
“I honestly think he’s got huge potential and I think he can go on to great things.”
Another player who managed to make the leap this season is former Braintree Town winger Simeon Akinola. He joined League Two outfit Barnet on New Years Day and has since made 14 appearances for The Bees, finding the back of the net twice. The
The 24-year-old has a bright future and if he impresses during the 2017/18 campaign, there no doubt clubs higher up in the Football League looking to get his signature.
Shilow Tracey is another youngster who has risen up the ranks. The 18-year-old is now on Tottenham’s books after moving to the Premier League front-runners from National League South side Ebbsfleet United last season.
This sort of transfer goes to show how quickly things can change in a footballing career as Tracey was playing in the Academy side for a team in the sixth tier last season. Age is on his side and if Tracey keeps on developing at the pace he is then we could see him in the first team at Spurs in the not too distant future.
Dan Wishart helped Forest Green Rovers to secure promotion to the Football League for the first time in their history last season as he was described by some as the best left-sided player in Non-League football.
The England ‘C’ international, according to manager Mark Cooper, nearly penned a deal to sign for an unnamed League One club last season. If the left back can kick on this season and prove to be a top player in League Two then we can expect to see the 24-year-old climbing the football pyramid sooner rather than later.
The vast amount of quality in Non-League football means the list could go on. It’s great for English football that a lot of these part-time players are getting looked at and being given a chance, let’s hope we can see even more making the step up in the 2017/18 season.