From non-league player to Premier League star – the 10 greatest fairytale stories

Ian Wright
(Image credit: Getty)

Michail Antonio will never escape his past. Whatever achievements he racks up – the latest being West Ham’s all-time top Premier League goalscorer – it will rarely be more than a moment before we’re reminded that “he started off at non-league Tooting & Mitcham United, you know.”

Leaping from non-league to Premier League is a laudable achievement, one which speaks not just of ability but also determination: we all love a rags-to-riches story, and the hero’s journey is perhaps humankind’s oldest narrative. 

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Gary Parkinson is a freelance writer, editor, trainer, muso, singer, actor and coach. He spent 14 years at FourFourTwo as the Global Digital Editor and continues to regularly contribute to the magazine and website, including major features on Euro 96, Subbuteo, Robert Maxwell and the inside story of Liverpool's 1990 title win. He is also a Bolton Wanderers fan.