Amid the storm that surrounds the proposed Big Picture and the effect that might have on teams outside the Premier League, it’s worth taking a look at the current England squad and specifically Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
In the match at Wembley against Wales on Thursday (8 October), a frustrating start was broken by a typically robust header from Everton striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin. The 23-year-old Blues man broke the deadlock, scoring on his full international debut.
Many people will only know Calvert-Lewin from his time with the Toffees. Others will remember his league career began with Sheffield United.
It was there former Blues defender and now academy director David Unsworth first spotted Calvert-Lewin and managed to buy the forward for a “cheeky” bid of £1.5m in 2016.
Before then, the head of the Blades’ academy at the time, Nick Cox, decided to navigate a path to first-team football for Calvert-Lewin. The plan included a change in position for the then midfielder and a loan spell at non-league Stalybridge Celtic.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin at Stalybridge Celtic
Calvert-Lewin made his Stalybridge debut against local rivals Hyde United – and it left the 17-year-old with a scar still visible today.
Cox told BBC Sport: “It was cold, horrible and Dom froze under pressure of senior-level football. Just before half-time he got a whack around his head where he was seeing double and had a big bruise around his eye.
“He was only there for a month, so if he took an opportunity to come off, he wouldn’t be playing much after that.
“Dom stayed on, scored a scrappy goal from a yard out, scored two in the reverse fixture, which they won 7-1, and ended up scoring five in six games to become a bit of a Stalybridge legend.”
Calvert-Lewin said: “It gave me that sense of what it was to play in front of fans, to play proper men’s football, and it was definitely a catalyst in propelling me forward.”
Other humble beginnings
The Everton striker, currently top scorer in the Premier League, wasn’t the only player in the England versus Wales game to have benefited from non-league football.
Southampton striker Danny Ings, who also notched his first England goal, with a sublime overhead kick, has credited a loan spell at Dorchester Town for “toughening” him up while a young player at Bournemouth.
Aston Villa centre-back Tyrone Mings, who came off the bench in the Wales game, also has a background outside the top tiers.
After leaving school, Mings signed for non-league Yate Town before joining local team Chippenham in 2012. Ipswich signed Mings for £10,000 and the rest, as they say, is history.
The core of the England national set-up features a heavy presence of players from the ‘big six’, but a quick glance at the latest squad reveals how valuable the football pyramid really is.
Whatever side of the Big Picture argument you’re on, the value of even the smallest clubs in England shouldn’t be forgotten – or underestimated.
- MCM X Crocs: Price and where to shop the new clog collab
- Where is Today’s Hoda Kotb? Anchor hints at absence on Instagram
- Why is Ukraine’s Snake Island called that? History and strategic position explored
- CERN 2022 portal theory debunked: What they’re really doing on July 5th
- Incredible Mars photos released after spacecraft orbits Red Planet 1,300 times