5 players whose journey to the Premier League was emotional

Troy Deeney
Deeney joined Watford in 2010 and helped the team to the Premier League

In an era when player scouting has advanced several notches, and 'prodigies' and 'wonderkids' are spotted at ages less than 10, the old fashioned story of a player making his mark after being groomed the tough way is rare, to say the least.

The players who man up in lower leagues after being overlooked by big name youth academies, and make their mark on the highest stage years later, still hold a fundamental romance in the world of football. Such players are part of the myriad reasons why we love, live and breathe the beautiful game of football.

Here's a look at a few players who made emotional and memorable journeys with their beloved clubs to the Premier League:

#1 Troy Deeney

When Leicester had a £25m bid rejected for Troy Deeney in the summer, it was written off in several quarters as an instance of reckless money spree prevailing in the Premier League. However, when a club that signed N'Golo Kante for £5.6m decides to flex its financial muscle and shell for Deeney, it serves to illustrate the regard at which he is held.

After spells in non-league football for Chelmsley Town followed by a spell at League One side Walsall, Deeney signed for Watford in August 2010 and has been there since. After struggling initially for a couple of seasons, the Englishman found his feet and gradually rose in importance until he was named captain of Watford prior to 2014-15 campaign.

In 2014, Odion Ighalo joined the Hornets and the duo have formed a fearsome attacking force for Premier League defences and wreaked havoc in the first half of 2015-16 season before petering out in the second half.

Aston Villa might have had other ideas when they failed to offer him terms as a 15-year-old.

#2 Ashley Williams

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Swansea City : News Photo
Williams was an integral part of Swansea City’s meteoric rise to the Premier League

Having signed for a League One Swansea City side initially on loan in March 2008, Williams played a pivotal role in the steady ascent of the Welsh club up the English football ladder over years.

Having played under Roberto Martinez, Paulo Sousa, Brendan Rodgers, Michael Laudrup, Garry Monk and Francesco Guidolin for Swansea, the Wales captain was a key player for each one of these managers.

Officially handed the armband when Garry Monk stepped down in July 2013, Williams had already been a leader by nature and a respected voice in the dressing room. Brendan Rodgers rated him so highly that he openly challenged the Liverpool owners' decision not to sign them.

Captaining Wales to a historic 3-1 win over Belgium to lead them into the semifinals presented perhaps the best moment till date of Ashley Williams' career. The struggles Swansea have faced since his departure, and the immediate impact he has made at Everton, continues to raise the profile of the player into his thirties.

#3 Adam Lallana

Southampton v Carlisle United - Johnstone's Paint trophy Final : News Photo
Lallana joined the Southampton academy in 2000 and left the club for Liverpool in 2014

Spoken about in the same breath as Theo Walcott and Gareth Bale as part of a promising stream of young players coming through the ranks at Southampton, Adam Lallana has since traversed a much lengthier route to the top of the football ladder.

Having joined the Saints’ academy as a 12-year-old in 2000, Lallana remained loyal to his club through thick and thin, overseeing their rise to Premier League status, even as his teammates annually left for greener pastures.

Named club captain in 2012, Lallana had a stellar 2013-14 season, making it to the shortlist for PFA Player of the Year. The move to Liverpool in 2014 was part of the natural progression of the player’s career, finally finding himself playing at the same level as his old friends.

In contrast to the other names in this list, Lallana's career is one that continues to be on the rise. While he may never sign for any of those clubs, his being linked with Barcelona, Juventus and PSG over the last few months shows how far the little boy from Bournemouth has come.

#4 Rickie Lambert

Bristol Rovers v Southampton - FA Cup Fifth Round : News Photo
The journeyman footballer played for several clubs before taking Southampton to the Premier League

Lambert left the youth academy of his dream club as a teenager, only to come back years later, following success elsewhere – his story could not be any more different from that of Paul Pogba's. Released by the Liverpool youth academy at the age of 15,

Lambert took quite a detour through the lesser known leagues in English football, eventually finding his way to Southampton through Blackpool, Macclesfield Town, Stockport County, Rochdale and Bristol Rovers.

The Englisman wrote his name in Southampton folklore with his contributions to get them to the Premier League from league one – and when Liverpool came calling, no one at Southampton could grudge good ol’ Rickie the move of his dreams.

Even though the move never quite worked out, Lambert will always beam with pride when he looks back upon his career and sees Liverpool FC in his CV.

#5 Jamie Vardy

Fleetwood Town v Blackpool - FA Cup Third Round : News Photo
Vardy’s journey to the Premier League has been an arduous one

Yes, you heard it right – Jamie Vardy made it to the 25-man shortlist for Ballon D'Or 2016. Yes, you have got your facts right as well – he was lacing his boots to feature for non-league side Fleetwood Town as late as 2011.

So where's the crystal ball Leicester used before deciding to sign him for a non-league record fee of £1.7 million? There has to be one; how else does one explain Vardy's rise to prominence that has defied adjectives? 'Exponential rise' can only get you so far – Vardy's story has been so much more than that; typified most of all, perhaps, by the decision to reject Arsenal in 2016.

Vardy plays today just as he did all those years ago in the 5th division – chasing lost causes and going at defenders as if his life depended on it; just as Luis Suarez and Alexis Sanchez play with the hunger they developed as kids in South American streets. Vardy epitomises all good that comes from working your way up rather than starting at the very top.

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Edited by Staff Editor
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