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From the building site to the bright lights of professional football

Created: 26/09/2016

The 2015/16 Premier League season proved that anything can happen in football. Leicester City where crowned champions, and former non-league nobody Jamie Vardy was named joint top goal scorer.

In recent years, more and more non-league players are making their way into the professional game. Coming from all walks of life, many are having a huge impact on the modern game.

You will be surprised how many professional players were once offering handyman services or painting walls for a living before hitting the big time.

Charlie Austin – Bricklayer:

In October 2009, Charlie Austin signed a nine-month contract with Swindon Town aged just 20. Just weeks before, Austin was working as a bricklayer during the week and played for Poole Town on the weekends, scoring 48 times in 42 appearances.

Now, Austin is a household name playing with Southampton in the Premier League, with 193 career goals to his name.

Image credit: Brian Minkoff-London Pixels (Wikimedia Commons)

Stuart Pearce – Electrician:

Former Nottingham Forest and England legend, Pearce spent four years as an electrician in the early 1980s, whilst playing for non-league side Wealdstone.

‘Psycho’ has always been a supporter of the amateur football, and in 2016 teamed up with Fiat to launch the ‘Tradesman Trials’, which gave tradesmen the chance to win a one-month trial at a football league team of their choice.

Jimmy Bullard – Painter & Decorator:

Aged 20 and playing for Ebbsfleet Town, one of football’s funniest personalities was working as a painter and decorator with his dad, but it didn’t stop him taking the game seriously.

His dad would allow him the day off when he had a weekday game, allowing him the day to prepare like a professional for the match. This approach paid off, when in 1988, a West Ham scout spotted Bullard. In February of that year, Harry Redknapp offered him a contract with the club.

Image credit: Jon Candy (flickr.com)

Miroslav Klose – Builder:

One of the most decorated strikers in modern football, Klose is Germany’s and the FIFA World Cup’s all-time leading goal scorer.

But whilst playing for FC 08 Homburg, a fifth division side at the time, Klose worked as a builder and bricklayer when he was 20. Signing for Kaiserslautern as a 21 year old, Klose remained as a carpenter, as he felt it was important for his and his family to have a trade to fall back on.

Image credit: Sven Mandel / CC-BY-SA-4.0

Ian Wright – Plasterer:

Arsenal’s second highest goal scorer of all time with 104 goals, Ian Wright endured a tough time as a young man finding his path in the world.

Having endured unsuccessful trials with Southend and Brighton, Wright turned to non-league and amateur football in the 1980s, whilst earning his keep as a plasterer.

Despite a spell in prison and almost losing it all to drugs, Wright was offered a full-time contract by Crystal Palace manager Steve Coppell, exchanging a set of weights for his services with Greenwich Borough.

Image Credit: Ronnie Macdonald (flickr.com)



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