The rise from non-league to Premier League is a path recently trodden by Rickie Lambert, Andre Gray and Jamie Vardy. But who will be the next star to emerge from the lower tiers of the football pyramid? Here’s three we at Rush Football think have what it takes…
Xavier Vidal – Braintree Town
Xavier Vidal is a name you’d expect to see in La Liga not in the Vanarama National League South, but this 22-year-old really does have what it takes to make it at the highest level. The attacking midfielder boasts remarkably quick feet, blistering pace, a powerful shot and vision even his namesake Xavier ‘Xavi’ Hernandez would be proud of. The former Merstham, Dulwich Hamlet, Welling and Hemel Hempstead player has been on the verge of breaking on to the professional scene for a while having had trials at Birmingham, Bolton, Norwich, Brentford and Oxford. Surprisingly, he failed to secure a contract and recently signed for Braintree but should he continue to progress it won’t be long before they come knocking on his door again.
Here is some footage of the attacking midfielder back in the 2014/15 season, demonstrating his exceptional talent:
James Alabi – Tranmere Rovers
London born James Alabi is the complete striker, he possesses exceptional strength, speed and has a clinical finish making him a handful for even the best of defenders. Despite Chester FC of the Vanarama National League struggling throughout the 2016/17 season (finishing in 19th place and avoiding relegation by two points), James Alabi had an excellent season. The 22-year-old scored 17 league goals in 42 games earning him rave reviews and drawing interest from a host of Football League clubs including AFC Wimbledon, Leyton Orient, and Dagenham and Redbridge. After turning down a new contract at Chester FC, the England C team international was in high-demand an wound up signing a contract with Tranmere Rovers earlier today.
The forward’s most notable performance of the most recent campaign was in the 8-2 win against Aldershot, where he scored 4 times in 33 minutes:
James Hardy – AFC Fylde
It comes as no surprise that Lancashire based AFC Fylde won promotion last season with a player of James Hardy’s calibre in their side. The tricky winger was released by Manchester City in 2015 and it may be a decision they rue in years to come should he continue to produce man-of-the-match performances which are slowly becoming the norm. In the most recent campaign, the technically gifted 21-year-old was ever present in an AFC Fylde side that scored 109 league goals, winning the Vanarama National League North by 6 points. There is a long way to go in the talented youngster’s career, but we expect to see him moving up the football pyramid sooner rather than later.
In November 2016, he made his England C team international debut v Estonia U23 notching up two assists in the 2-1 win:
Enjoy this article? Why not check out ‘The next Jamie Vardy? Two non-league gems to keep an eye on…‘?