Keeping it local: Premier League footballers in Non-League

Tom Dunstan

We all assume that when a player starts to hit the twilight of their career, a move to foreign shores is all but inevitable. With the likes of China and MLS offering a final wallet-busting hurrah, it’s rare to find a player who hangs up their boots at the peak of their powers.

But, some Premier League veterans decided that maybe a move closer to home was the best option.

Clinton Morrison – Mickleover Sports

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The former Republic of Ireland international must feel a million miles away from a career that saw him play against the likes of Ronaldo, Kaka & Ronaldinho in 2004. A decade on from his Premier League heydey, Morrison now spends his Saturday’s playing in the Northern Premier League Division. The former Palace hitman will be hoping 2018 works out better than last season. After finding the mark over 150 for Crystal Palace, Morrison was only able to score three times in England’s seventh tier.

Jonathan Greening – Tadcaster Albion

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From the Nou Camp to Non-League. Arguably the most forgotten man from Manchester United’s 1999 treble-winning side. Despite picking up a Champions League medal without playing a single second, Greening made his name during a six-year spell in the Midlands with West Brom. Six years on from his final Premier League appearance, the midfielder is currently in his second spell with the North Yorkshire side. Last season Greening helped Tadcaster to promotion to the Evo-Stik League Division One North.

Barry Hayles – Windsor

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The Jamaican international is most fondly remembered for his six years with Fulham between 1998-2004. Since slowly falling down through the football leagues, the bullish forward has become somewhat of a Non-League journeyman over the past seven years.

After spells with Truro City, St. Albans City, Arlesey Town and Chesham United, Hayles has recently begun his transition into management as he will be spending this season as a player/coach with Windsor in the Hellenic League Premier Division.

Julio Arca – South Shields

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Probably the most loved Argentinan in the North West? After racking up 149 Premier League appearances with both Middlesbrough and Sunderland, the midfielder signed for Non-League South Shields in 2015. Arca has taken his Premier League experience into the Northern League Division One side, helping them to the title last season. This season the 36-year-old even enjoyed his Wembley day out, as he captained South Shields to the FA Vase title in May.

Paul Konchesky – Billericay Town

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The first of three former Premier League stars to sign up for the Billericay Town revolution. Following 12 seasons in England’s top flight with the likes of West Ham, Fulham, and Liverpool, Konchesky and his two England caps have signed up for the Ryman League side.

Jamie O’Hara – Billericay Town

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The part-time footballer and semi-professional celebrity is another to join the Essex based club. Following a brief spell with Gillingham and an even more brief appearance in Celebrity Big Brother house, O’Hara signed up for Non-League Billericay Town in March.

The former Tottenham youth star has already made a handful of appearances for the Blues and has already had a mixed start to his tenure at The AGP Arena. After scoring Billericay’s goal of the season on his debut, the midfielder was then fined two weeks wages after pushing a fan!

Jermaine Pennant – Billericay Town

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Once upon a time, Jermaine Pennant’s arrival at Arsenal was the most expensive deal paid for a trainee in footballing history. 18 years later, and following appearances at every level in the football leagues and the odd spell in Singapore. Pennant has just completed a successful trial with seventh tier Billericay. Earlier this week the 2007 Champions League finalist signed a deal worth a reported £3000 per week in the South East.

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