Many professional footballers will just retire at a certain age, but some want to carry on playing. Here are 6 professionals who now play Non-League.
Six Players We Bet You Did Not Know Are Playing Non-League Football
One inevitable thing in life is that we all grow old, and it must be crushing for footballers when they realise that their mind is outstripping their body, especially since most would have been at peak athletic levels for many years. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that some players try to fight the drifting of time by playing in the lower leagues when their body is no longer able to cope with the demands of top-flight football. One of the greatest pleasures in football is seeing a name from a bygone era playing with a team that you have barely heard of. Below I am going to look at eight players that decided that their footballing days were not over.
Fuller was loved at Stoke City thanks to the 50 goals that he scored for them over the course of six seasons. He was also a key part in seeing them win promotion to the Premier League for the first time ever in 2008. On the opening day of the Premier League season, he scored in their 3-1 defeat to Bolton to become the first player to score a goal for Stoke in the Premier League. His contract expired in 2012 and he went on to have spells with Charlton Athletic, Blackpool, Millwall, and Oldham Athletic. He retired from the game in 2016, but in 2019 he decided to put his retirement on hold and joined Nantwich Town, who play in the 7th tier of English football. In 2020, he signed for Hanley Town, at the grand old age of 41.
Not many people probably had a bet on Stoke City to get promoted to the Premier League in 2008, and those that did would have earned a tidy profit. I am a Stoke fan because this is where my father is from, and I actually did have a bet on Stoke to get promoted that year. After the game that sealed our promotion, I spoke to my father on the phone and he revealed that he also placed a €20 bet on Stoke to be promoted at the start of the season – he had just won €100 profit. I on the other hand, only made an €85 profit. When I asked him where he got such good odds from, he told me that a friend of his had told him about a bookmaker comparison site called betinireland.ie. When I hung up, I immediately checked it out, and it has gone on to help me a lot as I now get much better odds than I did before.
A few months ago, he was seen fighting in a street brawl with so much enthusiasm that you would be forgiven for thinking that he had just swallowed ten cans of Red Bull in a row. However, despite this, Biggleswade United (yeah, we have not heard of them either), who play their football in the Spartan South Midlands League announced that they had signed him. The little Spanish forward has had spells in Spain, Poland, Scotland, Northern Ireland, England, and the United States, but will mostly be remembered for the time that he spent at Rangers in the Scottish Premier League. In 179 games for the club he scored 47 goals and helped them to win the title in 2004 and 2009. It is great to see him playing football still because in 2018, at the age of 38, he suffered a heart attack while playing a game.
The former Scotland international spent four years at Leeds United where he scored 53 goals in 144 matches before he moved to Fulham where he netted 38 goals in 89 games. In 2016, he joined Aston Villa, one of the biggest clubs in English football, but he had injury and attitude issues and only played 20 games for them over the course of three seasons. He was famously dropped by Steve Bruce because he did not turn up at training because his electric gate was broken. He was sent out on loan to Nottingham Forest, Melbourne City, Central Coast Mariners, and then Motherwell. In September of this year, he decided that Aldershot was the next team that he would like to play for.
In 50 years when sea levels have risen so much that most of the world is underwater, Cureton will still be kicking a ball about on whatever piece of land he is able to find. Throughout his long career he has played for more clubs than you can shake a stick at and includes the likes of Norwich City, Queens Park Rangers, Bristol Rovers, Reading, and Leyton Orient. Last year, at the grand age of 44, Cureton became the 29th footballer in history to play 1,000 senior games, and he is also now the first player ever to score in the top 9 tiers of English football. At the time of writing, he is currently playing with Enfield – he made his Premier League debut back in 1994, which was before many of his current teammates were born.
Watt came through Arsenal’s academy team and made his debut for the senior team in 2009 as well as being named on the bench for a game against Standard Liege in the Champions League. In his senior debut against West Brom in the League Cup he scored to help Arsenal through to the next round. This made him the 85th Arsenal player to score on debut. During his 15-year spell at Arsenal, he was loaned out to the likes of Southend United, Leeds, Sheffield Wednesday, and Colchester United. In 2015, he signed for Kerala Blasters in India on a free transfer before moving back to England the following year to play for Crawley Town. He went on to play for Hemel Hempstead Town and is now playing for Wealdstone. It is safe to say that his career probably did not go the way that he thought it would when he scored on debut for Arsenal.
Elokobi was Wolves’ man mountain long before Adama Traore took on the role. He arrived in England back in 2002 at the age of 16 and signed up with Dulwich Hamlet, who were plying their trade in Isthmian League Division One. It was not long before he was spotted by scouts from Colchester United and, after a trial, he signed for them in 2004. He made 39 appearances for Colchester and was signed by Wolves in 20008 for a fee of £500,000. He quickly established himself in their starting XI and made 85 appearances for them overall. After his time at Wolves he played for the likes of Oldham Athletic, Leyton Orient, Aldershot Town, and he is now playing for Maidstone United.