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5 star footballers who were rejected as youngsters

Trevor Murray
FEATURED WRITER
Top 5 / Top 10
10.67K   //    Timeless
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 30: West Ham defender Tony Gale challenges Ian Wright of Arsenal during the FA Premiership match at Highbury on April 30, 1994 in London, England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Allsport/Getty Images)
Ian Wright is one of Arsenal’s best ever players

When you see a world-class footballer coolly roll a ball into the back of the net past a prone goalkeeper, or blast a 40-yard free kick into the top corner it can be easy to dismiss the notion that hours of hard work have been poured into practising and improving that skill on the training pitch.

A lot of hard yards behind the scenes go into becoming a top-quality athlete.

Rejection, too, can play a major part in seeing a football player develop over the years. It can motivate them to become better at their chosen profession and force them to push past some of their peers.

So, join us in reflecting back on some surprising footballers, including UEFA Champions League stars and Premier League legends, who were rejected as youngsters before, amazingly, going on to become legends in their own right.


#1 Ian Wright

Nowadays he’s a pundit on BBC’s Match of the Day, offering his expert analysis on Premier League matches, but he has a glorious career behind him that deserves to be remembered as one of the most eye-catching of them all.

An Arsenal legend, Wright is one of their most clinical strikers and sits proudly alongside the likes of Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp as one of the Gunners’ most exciting strikers ever. He possessed an ability to guide balls into the back of the net few have been able to reproduce in a red and white north London shirt and had a charismatic aura about him, to boot.

However, it might come as a bit of a surprise to learn that he was rejected by a plethora of clubs when he was young before he was ever afforded a proper chance to prove himself at Crystal Palace.

Southend United, AFC Bournemouth and Brighton & Hove Albion all turned down the opportunity to sign him – they must have all kicked themselves when they saw him go on to become Arsenal’s second-highest goalscorer of all time.

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