On the hunt for the 'Next Jamie Vardy' | Non League Stars

Updated: Jul 2, 2020

As any football fan knows, the rise of Jamie Vardy has been phenomenal, a proper 'rags to riches' fairytale. Starting in the Non League with Stocksbridge Steels, Vardy progressed through the leagues and is now scoring goals at a regular level for Premier League side Leicester City and winning the Premier League back in the 2015/16 season. As well as this, Jamie Vardy was scoring regularly for England before his international retirement in 2018. Football League and Premier League clubs are now consistently on the look out for the 'next Jamie Vardy'. Within this article, The Footy Gang has picked their Top 5 strikers within Non League football who could potentially become the 'next Jamie Vardy'.

Image credit: Non League Paper

Image credit: Yorkshire Evening Post

Harrogate Town striker Aaron Martin, 28, is the oldest striker in this list however if his goalscoring record in Non-League is anything to go by, Martin definitely has the potential to go on to play in the Football League. Shortly before the 2019/20 season was suspended due to the Covid-19 outbreak, Aaron Martin signed for National League side Harrogate from Conference North side Guiseley. Born in Sheffield, Martin scored goals regularly for Sheffield F.C and Brighouse Town in the BetVictor Northern Premier before sealing a move to Guiseley. In the 2018/19 season for Brighouse Town, scored 30 goals and lodged 11 assists, prompting Guiseley to make the move for the talented front man. Martin went on to score 16 times in only 20 appearances for Guiseley, attracting the attention of a number of sides from the National League and above. Despite Football League interest, Harrogate swooped for Martin. Martin has yet to feature for Harrogate due to the Coronavirus pandemic, however at the time of writing, the National League is predicted to be finished on a PPG basis, allowing the play offs to take place.

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Jonah Ayunga, 23, currently plies his trade for National League South side Havant and Waterlooville. Back in 2016, Jonah Ayunga signed for then Championship side Brighton Hove Albion from Dorchester Town. It was reported that the fee for Ayunga was the highest ever transfer fee that Dorchester had ever received for a player. Unfortunately for Ayunga, he didn't manage to force his way into the first team reckoning at Brighton Hove Albion. After a number of loan deals away from Brighton Hove Albion, Ayunga signed on a permanent deal for National League South side Havant and Waterlooville at the start of the 2019/20 season. Ayunga has been on fantastic form for Havant, scoring 17 goals, with the club sitting second place in the National League South table. At the time of writing this article due to the Coronavirus pandemic, National League North side York City and Havant are both hoping that the National League decide to promote both York and Havant if the play offs cannot go ahead, with both sides sitting in 2nd position in their respective tables.

Image credit: Northampton Town FC

Joe Iaciofano, 21, ended the 2019/20 as top goalscorer in the National League South, finishing joint top with Havant striker Jonah Ayunga on 17 goals. Unlike, Ayunga, whose Havant and Waterlooville side are sitting in 2nd position, Iaciofano's side, St Albans, finished two points outside the relegation zone. With St Albans' lowly standing in the National League South table, this makes Iaciofano's goalscoring feat even more impressive. Iaciofano started his career at League Two side Northampton Town, but unfortunately for the Northampton born youngster, he failed to force his way into the first team picture. After a number of successful loans spells away from the club, after his release, Iaciofano signed for St Albans at the start of the 2019/20 season. If Iaciofano's goalscoring record this season is anything to go by, it would not be surprising at all to see Joe Iaciofano signed for either a National League or Football League side this summer.

Image credit: York Press

Kurt Willoughby, 22, currently plies his trade for National League side AFC Flyde. Willoughby, despite only being 22 years of age, has consistently scored goals within Non-League football. Willoughby burst onto the scene with AFC Blackpool, with the striker scoring 40 goals in only half a season with the club. Willoughby, before signing for AFC Flyde, featured for Clitheroe and National League North side FC United. Before the 2019/20 season, Willoughby had scored over 20 goals in his past three seasons. Kurt Willoughby has also been capped the England 'C' side and managed to score on his debut against Wales. Willoughby's time at AFC Flyde has been a tough one and after failing to force his way into the first team, Willoughby joined National League North side York City and scored three times in four appearances for the play offs hopefuls. Willoughby, was then recalled by AFC Flyde just before the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic. Bolton Wanderers are currently rumoured to be interested in bringing the talented striker into the Football League this summer.

Image credit: Nottingham Post

Kyle Wooton, despite only being 23 years of age, made his Football League debut back in 2014 for Scunthorpe United. Wooton is different to the other strikers on this list, as he is somewhat of a targetman due to his imposing figure, standing at 6'2' tall. Wooton managed 11 goals for Scunthorpe United during his time at the club as well as spending a number of successful loans spells away from the club. Just after the start of the 2019/20 season, Wooton joined National League side Notts County on loan with Notts looking to return to the Football League at the first time of asking. After a successful stint at The Magpies, where Wooton scored 12 goals in 22 appearances, Notts County made the move into a permanent deal for a reported fee of £60,000, a colossal fee for National League level. Notts County have high hopes for the talented striker that Wooton can be the man to fire them back into the Football League. However, if his goalscoring record is anything to go by at the National League level, they may struggle to hold onto the youngster for long.

We hope you enjoyed this article. What are your thoughts on the five strikers that The Footy Gang picked?

Are there any strikers that you think should have been in this list? Let us know your feedback over at our Twitter: @TheFootyGang.


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