Jamie Vardy has already got his hands on a Premier League winners’ medal and the Football Writers Association Player of the Year award, and on Sunday could also claim the top flight’s golden boot.
All this just four years after the Yorkshireman had helped Fleetwood Town to win the Conference title and promotion to the Football League.
The Leicester City hitman’s route to the top, which has also included England honours, has been well-documented, but his former Foxes team-mate Kevin Phillips believes there are more ‘hidden gems’ like Vardy doing the business in the non-league game.
The former Sunderland and Watford goal machine, who is now coach at Championship play-off contenders Derby County, followed a similar path after coming through the non-league game at Baldock Town after his release from Southampton, so knows it’s not an impossible pathway.
“I firmly believe that there are players playing in the non-league game who could certainly jump into the league like Jamie Vardy and have the same impact. It’s just about the clubs taking a chance and looking in that area,” said the 42-year-old who helped Crystal Palace and Leicester City both win promotion to the Premier League.
“There are some hidden gems out there and I just hope these boys get the opportunity that the likes of Jamie Vardy and myself had.
“It makes me chuckle when I read this hype about players coming up from non-league but it’s happened so often over the years, with players like Ian Wright, Stuart Pearce, Vinny Jones, they all made it through the ranks and went on to achieve good things.
“It’s just about the luck, being in the right place at the right time and clubs take a chance. But I’m sure with Jamie Vardy doing what he is doing there are a lot if clubs looking in the non-league scene right now.”