Premier League to Non-League – 10 football stars who left the divisions

Some of football’s most impressive stories are of players who fought and fought their way up from non-league football to the top of the game.

The most famous Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy and West Ham’s Michail Antonio made just that leap, earning their way to international recognition in the process.

However, there are some who have gone the other way and fallen down the football pyramid to play non-league football.

Whether they stormed onto the stage as a young prodigy before getting lost or just slowly fell down the divisions, many players have graced the Premier League only to later fall out of the Football League.

These are 10 former Premier League footballers who have decided to end their careers playing non-league football.

Titus Bramble

Titus Bramble became somewhat notorious for his slips in the Premier League at times but managed a long career at the top of the game.

He played for Premier League clubs including Ipswich, Newcastle, Wigan and Sunderland for 15 years before retiring in 2013.



Billericay Town's Jamie O'Hara during the FA Trophy Quarter Final match between Billericay Town and Wealdstone at the AGP Arena Stadium, Billericay
Titus Bramble of Sunderland looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Queens Park Rangers and Sunderland at Loftus Road March 9, 2013

However, he returned to the game in August 2017, striking a player-manager deal with Stowmarket Town of the Eastern Counties League Premier Division – the ninth tier of the English game.

Clinton Morrison

Clinton Morrison spent three years in the Premier League with Birmingham City but is more synonymous with youth club Crystal Palace.



Sheffield Wednesday's Clinton Morrison celebrates scoring the first goal during an FA Cup fourth round match between Blackpool and Sheffield Wednesday at Bloomfield Road January 28, 2012
Sheffield Wednesday’s Clinton Morrison celebrates scoring the first goal during an FA Cup fourth round match between Blackpool and Sheffield Wednesday at Bloomfield Road January 28, 2012

Former Republic of Ireland striker Morrison has also played for Coventry, Sheffield Wednesday, MK Dons, Brentford, Colchester and Exeter after leaving Selhurst Park for a second time in 2008.

He then played for Long Eaton United in the Midland League Premier Division and for Mickleover Sports in the Northern Premier League Premier Division.

Jamie O’Hara



Billericay Town's Jamie O'Hara during the FA Trophy Quarter Final match between Billericay Town and Wealdstone at the AGP Arena Stadium, Billericay
Billericay Town’s Jamie O’Hara during the FA Trophy Quarter Final match between Billericay Town and Wealdstone at the AGP Arena Stadium, Billericay

Jamie O’Hara was among a group of footballers who made their way from the Premier League to non-league Billericay Town.

The team was in the seventh tier of English football when he arrived but was funded by the eccentric millionaire Glenn Tamplin, who owned and even managed the team for a time.

O’Hara started at Tottenham and also played in the top flight for Portsmouth and Wolves, then fell down from the divisions with Blackpool, Fulham and Gillingham.

The former England Under-21 international spent six months away from the game, during which time he appeared on Celebrity Big Brother before signing with Billericay in March 2017, along with several others still on this list…

He made 47 appearances for the club and scored four goals before retiring from non-league play in 2020.

Paul Konchesky



Paul Konchesky plays for Billericay Town
Paul Konchesky plays for Billericay Town

Paul Konchesky played in the Premier League for Charlton, West Ham, Fulham, Liverpool and Leicester in 2014/15 before joining Gillingham in 2016.

The left-back, who represented England twice between 2003 and 2005, switched to the non-league in 2017 to join Jamie O’Hara at Billericay Town where he made 23 appearances.

He then moved to East Thurrock in 2018 before retiring from Billericay Town in 2020, where he made three more appearances.

Paul Merson



Arsenal's Paul Merson celebrates after scoring a goal during the FA Carling Premiership match between Crystal Palace and Arsenal at Selhurst Park on February 25, 1995
Arsenal’s Paul Merson celebrates after scoring a goal during the FA Carling Premiership match between Crystal Palace and Arsenal at Selhurst Park on February 25, 1995

Paul Merson graced the Premier League with Arsenal for 12 years.

He also played in the English top two divisions at Middlesbrough, Aston Villa and Portsmouth before spending three years at third tier side Walsall.

Merson’s first experience outside the league came at Tamworth in 2006, but the two-time First Division champion left after a handful of appearances.

He came out of retirement six years later and briefly represented Whitton Athletic and Welshpool Town.

Jermaine Pennant



Jermaine Pennant of Billericay Town during the FA Trophy 2nd Qualifying match between Billericay Town and Bury Town at the New Lodge Ground, Billericay
Jermaine Pennant of Billericay Town during the FA Trophy 2nd Qualifying match between Billericay Town and Bury Town at the New Lodge Ground, Billericay

Jermaine Pennant made (yes) Billericay Town his 15th club in the summer of 2017, adding another chapter to a story already taking place in Spain, India and Singapore.

The winger, who once played for Arsenal and Stoke, also represented Liverpool in the 2007 Champions League final when Milan won 2-1 in Athens. He ended his playing days at Billericay Town with just 13 appearances and one goal.

Julio Arca



South Shields' Julio Arca in action during the Buildbase FA Vase Final between South Shields and Cleethorpes Town at Wembley Stadium on May 21, 2017
South Shields’ Julio Arca in action during the Buildbase FA Vase Final between South Shields and Cleethorpes Town at Wembley Stadium on May 21, 2017

Julio Arca first moved to the north east of England in 2000 when Peter Reid paid £3.5million for the Argentine’s services.

He spent six years with the Black Cats before moving a few miles down the road to Middlesbrough.

Between 2006 and 2013 he made almost 200 appearances for her.

Such was his love of the region that Arca spent the 2014/15 season at Sunday League club Willow Pond before joining South Shields in September 2015. In 2018 he retired.

George Elokobi



Oldham Athletic's George Elokobi during the SkyBet League One match between Oldham Athletic and Notts County at Boundary Park, Oldham
Oldham Athletic’s George Elokobi during the SkyBet League One match between Oldham Athletic and Notts County at Boundary Park, Oldham.

The popular former Wolves defender took a different path to many of the other players on this list.

The former Cameroonian defender has had a unique career, starting at non-league club Dulwich Hamlet before storming through the divisions until making 59 Premier League appearances for Wolves.

However, his career returned as he played for Oldham Athletic, Colchester United, Braintree Town, Leyton Orient and Aldershot before joining Maidstone United where he made 55 appearances.

He ended his playing career this year at the age of 36.

Leroy Lita



Leroy Lita plays for Yeovil Town
Leroy Lita plays for Yeovil Town

The versatile striker made 65 appearances in the Premier League for Reading and Swansea City.

He scored ten first division goals but experienced relegation from the top flight with both teams.

His career is a classic journeyman’s tale, with stints in the Championship with Charlton, Norwich, Middlesbrough, Birmingham, Sheffield Wednesday, Barnsley and Notts County.

After playing for Greek club AO Chania and Thai club Sisaket FC, the 36-year-old joined Nuneaton FC in the Non-League Premier Division.

He then moved to Stratford Town before moving to Hednesford Town this year where he scored six goals.

Mike Williamson



Mike Williamson isn't playing in the league against Gateshead
Mike Williamson isn’t playing in the league against Gateshead

Mike Williamson made an impressive 134 appearances in the Premier League for Newcastle United between 2009 and 2016.

Magpies fans may recall him providing two assists in the 6-0 win over Aston Villa in the 2010/11 season.

Staying local, he moved to Gateshead in 2018 where he played 62 games for them and scored two goals. He’s her manager now.

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