Updated: Jul 2, 2020
Within this article, The Footy Gang will be looking at the Top 5 Footballers who are currently plying their trade below the Football League. Over the years, many players have forged a career in the Football League, or even the Premier League after playing in Non League football.
The most notable footballers who fit this category are Jamie Vardy and Charlie Austin. Both started in Non-League football but have since gone on to regularly score goals at the top level of English football.
John Rooney, 29, is the younger brother of former England and Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney. Rooney, a renowned dead ball specialist, started off his career at Everton before joining Macclesfield Town after his release from the Premier League side. After 43 appearances for the League Two side, Rooney rejected a new deal at The Silkmen and went on to sign for Major League Soccer side New York Red Bulls. After only one season at New York Red Bulls, Rooney went on to sign for USL side Orlando City. After leaving Orlando, Rooney moved to back to England and signed for Barnsley but didn't manage to make an appearance for the club. At the start of the 2013/14 season, Rooney signed for League Two side Bury. Rooney only managed to feature three times for the North West side before moving on a permanent deal to Conference side Chester, after spending a successful loan spell at the club.
It was at Chester where Rooney really found his feet, over his two and a half seasons at the club, Rooney managed to score 25 goals from midfield. In the summer of 2016, Rooney moved to Chester's arch rivals Wrexham, after rejecting a new deal with Chester. Rooney managed 11 goals at Wrexham before moving to fellow Conference side Guiseley on loan midway through the season. This move came about after a contract dispute between Rooney and Wrexham. After his release from Wrexham, Rooney signed a permanent deal at Guiseley. Unfortunately for Rooney, Guiseley were relegated into the Conference North and Rooney was on the move again. In July 2018, Rooney signed for Conference side Barrow. In the 2019/20 season, Rooney scored 17 goals from midfield as Barrow look to be on course to gain promotion to the Football League.
Image credit: Non League Paper
Kabongo Tshimanga, 22, currently plies his trade for National League side Boreham Wood. Tshimanga started his career at Milton Keynes Dons but only managed to feature six times for the club before his release. After a number of loan spells away from the club, during his time with MK Dons, Tshimanga signed a permanent deal with National League North side Boston United. In the 2017/18 season, Tshimanga managed eight goals for the club before moving on to sign for National League South side Oxford City. Tshimanga, then went on to have his most successful season to date. The DR Congo born striker scored 29 goals in all competitions, as well as being named in the National League South Team Of The Year. In July 2019, Tshimanga made the step up to the highest level of Non-League football, signing for National League side Boreham Wood, despite rumours that Football League sides were interested in the hitman. In his first season at the club, Tshimanga has gone on to score 18 goals as Boreham Wood currently sit in 5th position in the National League. However, due to the Covid 19 pandemic, the National League are currently still deciding whether the Play Offs will go ahead.
Image credit: Cheshire Live
Elliott Durrell, 30, currently plies his trade in the National League North for Altrincham. Durrell, known for his crossing ability and a knack for scoring long range goals, started off his career at Hednesford Town before moving to AFC Telford. In 2014, Durrell moved on a permanent deal, to National League side Wrexham. Unfortunately for Durrell, his time with the Welsh side was hampered by injuries and Durrell left the club at the end of the season. Durrell dropped down to the National League North to sign for Tamworth, where his former Wrexham manager Andy Morrell was in the managerial hotseat. Durrell impressed for Tamworth, scoring 13 goals and at the start of 2016/17 season moved back up to the National League to sign for Chester.
Despite scoring 8 goals for the club, Durrell was on the move again after only one season for Chester, moving to fellow National League side Macclesfield Town. His stint at Macclesfeld Town was the most successful of Durrell's career to date. Macclesfield Town went on to win the league, with Durrell a pivotal part of this side, scoring some important goals for the club along the way. Durrell scored two excellent long range goals against Macclesfield's promotion rivals Tranmere Rovers. The Silkmen went on to win the match by four goals to one. At the age of 29, Durrell made his Football League debut. Durrell missed the first part of the season due to injury, but after Sol Campbell took over as Macclesfield Town manager, Elliott Durrell hit a rich vein of form. Durrell scored some vital goals as Macclesfield Town managed to survive and stay in the Football League.
Surprisingly to many, Durrell left the League Two side at the start of the 2019/20 season. Durrell signed for National League North side York City, where the York manager was Steve Watson. Watson, was formerly assistant manager to John Askey while Durrell was at Macclesfield. Due to York's good form, Durrell struggled to force his way into the side and joined fellow National League North side Altrincham in February 2020. Durrell scored on his debut for the club and appeared to be finding his feet before the league was suspended due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Ash Palmer, 27, currently plays for National League side Stockport County. Palmer, is regarded by many, as one of the best defenders in the National League. Palmer started his career at Scunthorpe United but only managed to make one appearance for the club. After short stints at Hinckley United, Droylsden and Buxton, Palmer moved to National League North side North Ferriby United. After winning promotion to the National League in his solitary season at the club, Palmer moved to National League side Guiseley and spent two seasons at the club. After Guiseley were relegated from the National League, Palmer signed for Jim Gannon's Stockport County. Palmer played a pivotal role as Stockport County were crowned champions of the National League North. In the 2019/20 season, Palmer again continued to impress and managed to score 5 goals along the way.
Image credit: Non League Paper
Tyrone Marsh, 26, currently plies his trade for National League side Boreham Wood. Marsh started his career at Oxford United but only featured sparsely for the first team and spent a number of loan spells away from the club. After a short stint at Ebbsfleet United, Marsh signed for Torquay United and scored 7 goals in 18 appearances before moving to Dover for an undisclosed fee. After a loan spell at Welling United, Marsh left Dover to sign for National League side Macclesfield Town. Tyrone Marsh impressed in his first season at the club, scoring 9 goals as Macclesfield Town were crowned National League champions and promoted to the Football League. Marsh scored a number of important goals against Boreham Wood and Eastleigh as he played a pivotal role in the Silkmen's promotion. In the 2018/19 season, Marsh featured regularly for Macclesfield Town in the Football League but left the club by mutual consent at the start of the 2019/20 season. Marsh dropped down a division to sign for National League side Boreham Wood and scored 14 goals for the club before the premature end of the National League season due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
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