Former Non-League footballers who will be featuring at the World Cup
For many, Non-League football is a pre-retirement league for players who would have failed to secure lucrative pre-retirement deals to play in countries such as the US and China. However, for some, Non-League football is a stepping stone to propel them to greater heights. As an inspiration to other stars currently playing Non-League football but with ambitions to play at the very top, here are some stars who managed to rise through the ranks and to make a name for themselves culminating in securing places in the England national team for the 2018 World Cup to be hosted by Russia.
Nick Pope (Burnley)
Three years ago, Nick Pope was unknown in the footballing circles, well, at least at the very top as he was playing for non-league side Bury. Fast forward three years later and Pope is in the England side that is to do battle in Russia alongside stars such as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. With England manager, Gareth Southgate still having headaches over who he is going to pick in goal for the first game of the World Cup, it’s a possibility that Nick Pope will not only be a part of England’s World Cup squad but will be in the starting 11 for a World Cup game! An astounding achievement isn’t it. Willing to put your money on Nick Pope starting in goal for England’s first match against Tunisia, simply visit any bookmaker of your choice offering world cup betting markets and place your bet.
Nick Pope’s career seemed to have reached its climax when Premier League side Burnley signed him at the start of the 2016/17 season. For someone who was playing non-league football, a chance to play as a backup for a Premier League side was good enough but what was to follow was going to surprise not only the football fraternity but Nick Pope himself. An unfortunate injury suffered by Burnley number 1 at the start of the season in a match against Crystal Palace meant Pope had to deputise. Boy oh boy did he deputise brilliantly stopping 80.2 percent of the shots he faced, keeping 10 clean sheets and not making a single error leading to a goal.
If this is not an inspirational story for all non-league players, then we don’t know what is.
Jamie Vardy (Leicester City)
When Hollywood decides to make a movie based on your life’s history, then you know you have made it in life. Before 2012, Jamie Vardy worked full time in a factory that made prosthetic limbs and played non-league football in his spare time. He featured for Stocksbridge Park Steels, Halifax Town and Fleetwood Town at a time when all these teams where playing non-league football. However, his life was to take a whole new turn when Leicester City (then playing in the Championship) came knocking on the door. Vardy quickly adjusted to life in the Championship and soon after to life in the Premier League. In addition to winning a place in the England national team World Cup squad, Vardy also has some great achievements that non-league players can only envy i.e. a Premier League winners medal, an 8th place at the Ballon Dor 2016 Awards and a 12 game consecutive goalscoring record in the Premier League.