How playing for nothing can get you a deal at Birmingham

Birmingham Carling Cup

Ryan Higgins played for Birmingham City for nothing, just to earn himself a long term deal in professional football.

He was released by Premier League giants Everton a year ago and spent a long time on various trials with different clubs, before he earned himself a place in the Birmingham City Development Squad on non-contract terms.

It’s a remarkable story which is based on a young player’s love for football and not a desire to earn as much money as he possibly can in a short space of time, before he retires at a young age.

He found himself on trial with Birmingham last summer, where he impressed but the club couldn’t keep him on because they couldn’t afford to pay him a salary, due to the well publicised financial problems at the club.

After failing to find another club that would take a punt on him, he asked Birmingham to give him another chance and that he would play for their Under-21 and development sides for nothing.

It’s a gamble that has paid off big time because a year later, he’s just been handed a full contract with the club, which includes the option to extend that deal by another year.

Just why it’s taken him so long to earn a new deal seems to be a bit of a mystery because he appears to be a very talented right back, who can also play on the right side of central defence.

He was probably a little bit of a victim of the position he plays because it’s always going to be harder as a defender to grab attention on a trial, in the same way that a striker or an impact player like a winger can do.

If Higgins hadn’t of tried playing for nothing, then he could well have missed out on his chances of playing for Birmingham because the club didn’t seem willing to offer him a second go, until he made it clear he didn’t want to be paid.

It really is a remarkable story because Higgins was with Everton when he was just six-years-old and stayed with the Toffees all the way through until he was 18-years-old, even skippering their Under-18 side.

You wouldn’t have blamed him if he’d thrown in the towel there and then, but it’s a lesson to all young players looking to get a professional deal. If you’re willing to work hard and make sacrifices then you may just get there.

Do you think he’ll struggle in the Birmingham first team?

image: © wonker

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