After months of lobbying, haranguing and complaining, 90min have finally acquiesced to my demands for more non-league content.
Well below the luxury of the Premier League exists a wonderful world of football where the players have second jobs, every supporter knows each other by name and if you hate the manager you can go into the bar after the game and tell him to his face instead of resorting to petty jibes on social media.
Of course everyone knows Jamie Vardy's rags to riches tale. The Leicester star went from playing for Stocksbridge Park Steels to the Premier League in just four years. But what about the players who have gone the other way? The ones who have tasted the delights of the top flight and then dropped down into non-league for the love of the game, or the money, or both?
Players like this deserve respect, and 90min have given it to them by listing seven Premier League stars who are still chasing a ball around outside of the professional ranks...
Grant Holt - Wroxham
The Canaries were then in League One, but 45 goals in two seasons from the target man helped Paul Lambert's side secure back-to-back promotions to the English top flight. The success did not stop there either, with Holt bagging 15 goals in his debut Premier League season and coming extremely close to winning an England cap.
After leaving Carrow Road he bounced around various clubs before announcing his retirement in 2018 to...checks notes...pursue a professional wrestling career. Right, okay.
George Elokobi - Maidstone United
Are you ready to be shocked? George Elokobi - of comedy Wolves Premier League era fame - is still, somehow only 34.
Currently captaining Maidstone United in the Conference South - five levels below the top flight - the Cameroonian made a name for himself as a no-nonsense defender
Although continued on field success has proved allusive, the veteran has been building a strong brand for myself on social media and has started a career as a motivational speaker. Fair play.
Barry Hayles - Merstham
When Barry Hayles made his debut for
45-year-old Barry Hayles scored for Windsor FC against Bracknell Town.— bet365 (@bet365) April 5, 2018
He has scored a goal in every calendar year since 1994.
Mike Williamson - Gateshead
Williamson made a fine start to his playing career at the club and made the step up to management last year where he has remained ever since.
⚽️NATIONAL LEAGUE PLAYER OF THE MONTH: We are delighted to announce that Gateshead defender Mike Williamson has been named @TheNationalLge Player of the Month for October.— Gateshead FC (@GatesheadFC) November 9, 2018
Great work #IronMike!
➡️ https://t.co/MMVUSs2tvA pic.twitter.com/RHWV62zyVA
The Heed were demoted to the National League North at the beginning of the season following financial irregularities
Jon Stead - Harrogate Town
Jon Stead is one of the few players to taste back-to-back Premier League relegations. In the 2005/2006 season while at Sunderland, the big forward was part of one of the worst top flight teams in history.
The Black Cats managed just three wins and 15 points all season and Stead's goal shyness did little to arrest their terrible form. He managed to net just once in 30 games.
The following campaign, the striker was somehow snapped up by newly promoted Sheffield United and registered a much more impressive five goals in 14 appearances. Not enough to keep the Blades up though...
These days Stead is involved at promotion chasing Harrogate Town in the National League. Here's a fun fact about them - their manager Simon Weaver is the chairman's son. Bet Sunday lunch is fun at their house after a defeat.
Leroy Lita - Chelmsford City
Leroy Lita had two bites of the Premier League cherry as a player. His first spell in the big time came with Steve Coppell's Reading between 2006 and 2008.
While at the Madejski Stadium the England Under-21 international netted seven goals during the 2006/07 season as the Royals shocked everyone with an eighth placed finished.
Lita returned to top flight with Swansea City in 2011 but only made 18 appearances over three seasons. To be fair he was competing with the free-scoring Michu for a place up front for much of that time.
Chelmsford City have brought in former Premier League striker Leroy Lita on a short-term deal:https://t.co/SgU92OgXmc #readingfc #bristolcity #swans #boro Photo: @OfficialClarets pic.twitter.com/fOQrehlqJe— NonLeagueDaily.com (@NonLeagueNews) November 11, 2019
After spells with a host of Football League clubs and periods playing in Greece and Thailand, Lita dropped down into non-league. He is currently sitting on the bench for Chelmsford City in the National League South.
Ricardo Fuller - Nantwich Town
Ricardo Fuller first rocked up in the Premier League with Portsmouth during the 2004/2005 season. He wasn't exactly prolific, managing one goal in 31 games.
Luckily, he more than made up for that during his time at Stoke where he earned cult hero status among the Potteries faithful.
Often found latching onto the end of a Rory Delap long throw, the Jamaican hit 18 goals across four top flight seasons at the Britannia Stadium.
Fuller announced his retirement in 2016 but missed the game so much that he returned to football with Northern Premier League side Nantwich Town. They're nicknamed the Dabbers - after the town's tanning industry, not the dance move - and have a stand sponsored by an ice cream company. Lovely.
Source : 90min