Hidden gems often lurk deep beneath the English Football League setup, and, whether or not those players get found is down to both their attitude and a slice of luck.
Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy began his senior career at Northern Premier League side Stocksbridge Park Steels before making the transition to FC Halifax Town, Fleetwood Town and then finally the Foxes.
With the non-league recently expunged, bookmakers are now offering free bets on transfer markets and we’ve decided to take a look at which five non-league players could eventually reach a bright future at the top.
After coming through the ranks at MK Dons, Kabongo Tshimanga never made it with the League One side and went on-loan to seven other clubs before the Congolese forward made permanent moves to Boston United, Oxford City and finally Boreham Wood in 2019.
Tshimanga has netted 15 times in 29 appearances to become Boreham Wood’s top goalscorer in the National League 2019-20 season and help lift them to fifth in the table. A quick and powerful goal scoring threat, Tshimanga is certainly one to look out for at just 22 years of age.
At just 23 years of age, Kyle Wootton is onto his eighth club with Notts County. Granted, six of these clubs were when the striker was on-loan from Scunthorpe United – whom he had been with since the academy days – but Wootton appears to be finally making a name for himself with 11 goals in 25 appearances.
A strong and decisive forward, County’s eighth-placed position owes a lot to Wootton’s presence and ability to deliver goals on a consistent basis.
Droitwich Spa midfielder Jordan Cox had it all in his youth. Aged ten, Cox signed for Aston Villa and then signed a professional contract at 18, representing the Villains at both under 18s and under 23s level with 62 appearances and 11 goals.
Cox was released last summer, despite playing the Premier League Two and FA Youth Cup for Villa, joining Midlands League club Droitwich Spa. He has already scored seven goals in 15 appearances in the 2019-20 season and looks far too good for non-league at just 21.
Hartlepool United centre-back Aaron Cunningham has played just ten games this season due to injury, but his first start in the National League in February 2019 ended in the Pools’ first clean sheet for two months.
Confident, assured and able to play out from the back, Cunningham will have a number of admirers at just 22 years of age.
Though currently on-loan at Barry Town United, Momodou Touray is a Newport County player, having come through the Welsh side’s academy.
Operating as a forward, Touray has been an ever-present in the Welsh national setup too, appearing five times for the under 19s and three times for the under 21s, despite being just 20 years of age.