To celebrate Non-leagues return to action this week, and the return of grassroots football up and down the country, lets have a look at your clubs best player who came through a Non-league club.

Now, not every team understandably has an ex Non-league representative, but in the past players such as Ian Wright and Chris Waddle have developed their trade in the grassroots levels of English football.

Arsenal – The gunners have a very diverse squad, with players from around the world currently playing for the north London side. They currently have no ex Nob-league players, but perhaps the best shout is Rob Holding, who played once for the now non-existent Bury. he played when the side was in league 2, but the side has since gone bankrupt.

Aston Villa – Ollie Watkins used to play in Non-league, and is maybe one of the most high profile ex-grassroots player currently plying their trade in the top flight. In his time in Non-league he scored ten times in 24 appearances for Weston-super-mare, and recently made his England Debut against San Marino.

Brighton and Hove Albion – Brightons star man from grassroots education is Left winger come left back Solly March, who used to play for Lewes in the national league. The Englishman could have been an outside chance for the Euros squad this summer, but he seems not in Southgate’s plans so far.

Burnley – Sean Dyche is well known for his love of proper footballers, who are willing to get stuck in and cause issues for their opposition. Ashley Barnes has played for a range of clubs in Non-league, and maybe that us where he learnt to be such an issue for centre halves up and down the Premier League. Nick Pope also made some appearances in grassroots football, and could have had this place.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – JANUARY 21: Ashley Barnes of Burnley scores their team’s first goal from the penalty spot during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Burnley at Anfield on January 21, 2021 in Liverpool, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Jon Super – Pool/Getty Images)

Chelsea – The Blues have no members of their current squad who came through grassroots football, with Chelsea spending heavily on foreign imports of talent in the previous summer.

Crystal Palace – The best player at the Eagles who used to play Non-league football is Tyrick Mitchell, who played for AFC Wembley before signing for Brentford and then moving to Palace.

Everton – This season, Everton’s system has been overhauled by Carlo Ancellotti, and that has seen Dominic Calvert-Lewin become a key man on Merseyside. The English international has been like a man possessed this season, registering his best performance to date.

LONDON, ENGLAND – MARCH 25: Dominic Calvert-Lewin of England celebrates with team mates Raheem Sterling and Ben Chilwell after scoring his team’s second goal during the FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar qualifying match between England and San Marino at Wembley Stadium on March 25, 2021 in London, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths – The FA/The FA via Getty Images)

Fulham – Last years play-off final hero Joe Bryan made his name at Bath City, after going on loan from parent club for the first half of the season. He scored twice in last years play off final, but hasn’t been first choice for the cottagers this season, behind Antonee Robinson.

Leeds United – Marcelo Bielsa’s side are another of the Premier League sides with no ex Non-league players, but there could be some players joining in the summer with some more grassroots experience.

Leicester City – The best player on this list, there is only one man and that has to be Jamie Vardy. The Englishman has won a Premier League title and 26 England caps to his name. As one of the best strikers in England, he is the Foxes talisman, and still is the first name on the team sheet when he is fit.

Liverpool’s Brazilian goalkeeper Alisson Becker catches the ball in the feet of Leicester City’s English striker Jamie Vardy during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Leicester City at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on November 22, 2020. (Photo by Jon Super / POOL / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or ‘live’ services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. / (Photo by JON SUPER/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Liverpool – Liverpool have had defensive issues all season, but one of the shining lights is the talent shown by young Rhys Williams. The Englishman played for Kidderminster Harriers, and will be hoping to forge a long career at the defending Premier League champions.

Manchester City – Understandably, Manchester City have no Non-league experience in their star-studded squad, with the playing squad full of £50 million players.

Manchester United – The Red Devils best Non-league experienced player is arguably their first choice keeper, Dean Henderson. He made 9 appearances for stockport county when they were in the national league north.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – MARCH 07: Brandon Williams, Luke Shaw, Harry Maguire and Dean Henderson of Manchester United walk off at the end of the Premier League match between Manchester City and Manchester United at Etihad Stadium on March 7, 2021 in Manchester, United Kingdom. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images)

Newcastle United – Newcastles top scorer and best player is Callum Wilson, and you could have guessed he also made a name for himself in the lower leagues of Englands grassroots football.

Sheffield United – Sheffield United’s season hasn’t quite gone to plan, but club legend Billy Sharp played on loan from the Blades at Rushden and Diamonds in the past, and now is the highest scoring active Englishman in the top 4 leagues.

Sheffield United’s English striker Billy Sharp takes a penalty and scores his team’s first goal during the FA Cup fifth round football match between Sheffield United and Bristol City at Bramall Lane in Sheffield, England, on February 10, 2021. (Photo by Lindsey Parnaby / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or ‘live’ services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. / (Photo by LINDSEY PARNABY/AFP via Getty Images)

Southampton – Although he has recently been linked to a move away from the Saints, at the time of writing Danny Ings is still a Southampton player. He played in Non-league, for Doncaster Town when they were in the National League, and he maybe stands a chance of making Gareth Southgate’s England squad this summer.

Premier League, Southampton
goal.com

Tottenham Hotspur – Tottenhams second choice keeper is Joe Hart, and early in his career he played for Shrewsbury Town, who at the time were a Non-league side. Since then, he has been in the Premier League team of the season multiple times, as well as winning the top flight when at Manchester City.

West Brom – West Brom have been poor this season, but centre half Semi Ajayi has been the sides best Non-league export. Last year the Nigerian defender was one of the best in the championship, but this season has not been great, for him or the baggies.

West Ham United – Michail Antonio is perhaps the most versatile player in this list and that could be due to his rise up the football pyramid, starting in Non-league.

West Ham, West Brom, Premier League
REUTERS/Matthew Childs

Wolverhampton Wanderers – this season hasn’t been great for Wolves, but a positive has been Max Kilman’s performances, especially alongside captain Connor Coady. The youngster has been good every time he’s been needed.

Has anyone been missed off this list? Let us know in the comments or on our twitter!

Sam Hutchison

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