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Former Non League Players Smalling, Beckford and Campbell Must Continue To Develop At The Top Next Season

Smalling, Campbell, Beckford. Three ordinary names. However, each one of these players was living the dream of every amateur player over the course of the last year. All started at Non-League level but last season all plied their trade in the Premier L...

Smalling, Campbell, Beckford.

Three ordinary names.

However, each one of these players was living the dream of every amateur player over the course of the last year. All started at Non-League level but last season all plied their trade in the Premier League.

DJ Campbell was relegated last year with Blackpool but has been touted with a transfer to the Premier League regularly over the course of the summer. Chris Smalling and Jermaine Beckford remain in the big time with Manchester United and Everton respectively.

The 2010-2011 season was pivotal in the development of their careers. Campbell had failed to prove himself as a Premier League striker previously and his career was threatening to peter out. Under the stewardship of Ian Holloway at Blackpool, he managed a very credible 13 goals from 31 appearances last season. This total looks even more favourable considering he’s spent just under half of his career so far in Non-League football, originally starting out with Chesham United in the Isthmian Premier Division.

Chris Smalling has had a meteoric rise to the top. Just three years ago, he was playing for Maidstone United, also in the Isthmian Premier Division. Despite playing only a handful of games, and nearly signing for Middlesbrough, he moved to Fulham in the summer of 2008. This ended up just proving a stepping stone for Smalling who attracted suitors quickly. In 2010, Manchester United came calling and people rarely say no to Sir Alex Ferguson. In his first season at Old Trafford, he put in a string of impressive performances making 33 appearances in all competitions last year. This is only two short of the total of his previous career appearances before joining the Red Devils. A call up to the England squad completes an extremely impressive CV.

Jermaine Beckford, formerly of Wealdstone United, scored plenty with Leeds United in League One and the Championship. His famous winner against Manchester United in the FA Cup at Old Trafford shouldn’t be forgotten. Last season started slowly for Beckford as he struggled to adjust to the demands of the Premier League. His composure in front of goal wasn’t quite there. However, in the second half of the season, things picked up and he ended up with eight goals in 32 appearances, a decent return for a first season in the top flight as a striker used to lower reaches.

What this also shows is the extensive nature of clubs’ scouting networks these days means players at the lower levels can still be unearthed.

In the case of these three, next season is pivotal in their development.

For Campbell, who looks all set to move QPR, he must draw on his experience and ensure he, at the very least, comes close to equalling his goal tally from last season. Tough but not impossible.

With Smalling, the more game time the better. The more he spends time in the back four with the likes of Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra, the better he will become.

As for Jermaine Beckford, he will need to top his amount of goals from last season, if he wants to be holding down a regular first team place with the Toffees next year. At 27, he has time to prove himself at the top. His goal against Chelsea where he ran from his own half on the final day of last season was sublime and displayed the potential he has to succeed.

Now, it is time for these players to consolidate, not just be one season wonders but become Non-League legends and provide inspiration for those who play at an Amateur and Semi-Professional level across the country.



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