In what was a relatively quiet transfer deadline day this week, Crystal Palace brought in Keshi Anderson from non-league Barton Rovers. It may not be one of the more high-profile transfers, but it certainly is a fairy tale story, Anderson bypassed seven leagues when making the jump up, and boss Alan Pardew (who came from non-league himself) has confirmed he will be in the squad for the rest of the season. Many players have made similar jumps, some you may not have known about…
Manchester United Defender Smalling established himself in the first team at Maidstone United before landing a move to then Premier League side Fulham, it didn’t take long for one of the giants of world football to come calling, and Smalling is now a fixture in the England squad, and has two Premier League winners’ medals to his name.
Stuart ‘Psycho’ Pearce
Stuart Pearce was playing for non-league Wealdstone when he got a move to Coventry, where he played for two years, establishing himself as the marauding hard-man we all know and love. Brian Clough, always a fan of bringing players from lower league, quickly brought him in to Nottingham Forest, where he became a club legend and England International.
This is a real fairy tale. Phillips was playing right back for his local side Baldock town and stocking shelves in a local bakery in his younger days, but within a few years found himself winning the English and European Golden Boot, netting 30 premier league goals in just one season. Phillips has been something of a journeyman, playing at a high level until into his 40s and living the dream!
Pardew had to do things the hard way, he played for Whyteleaf (no, we haven’t heard of them either) before working his way up the leagues with spells at Yeovil, Dulwich Hamlet and eventually finding his way to Palace, who paid a gargantuan £4,000 for his services. Pardew even worked on a building site in the middle east for six months, nearly quitting football altogether. Now manager at the London club where he made his name, I doubt Alan regrets leaving his building career…
The man widely touted to be England’s new talisman, Charlie Austin is perhaps proof that if you can score goals, you can score goals, no matter what the level. He has smashed them in at all levels of the football pyramid, from his time with Kintbury, Hungerford, Poole, Swindon, Burnley and now QPR. Now aged 25, he’s scored over 200 career goals already.
Another Crystal Palace discovery, Wright was playing for Greenwich Borough when a Palace scout happened to watch him. He was offered a trial, and the rest, as they say, is history…
When ‘Sir Les’ found himself being presented with the PFA Player of the Year Award by Pele, I bet his non-league days had become a distant memory. Playing for Hayes when he moved to QPR for £15,000, an illustrious career followed as Ferdinand almost fired Newcastle to a Premier League title. He scored 5 goals for England, and no doubt would have played more than the 17 games he managed had the wealth of English talent not been so high in the 90′s.
Vinnie has had a very interesting career! Best known for his time at the ‘Crazy Gang’ Wimbledon, he was playing for Wealdstone when spotted by Swedish Club IFK Holmsund, where he moved and helped them to win the league, before signing for Wimbledon, where he would have two spells, along with a time at Chelsea and Leeds. Naturally, he has since gone on to release a blues album, star in over forty movies and take part in a Bulgarian Reality TV Show.
Notable mention goes to Ashley Williams, Dwight Gayle (another Palace buy), Ben Foster and Yannick Bolasie, all of whom have come from non-league beginnings.