There are some big name players in non-league football - some of whom should surely be playing at a higher level.
Here are our 7 players who are too good for non-league football:
7. George Pilkington
There are much better known former Football League defenders in the non-league game, like Reda Johnson and George Elokobi, but few who have been better this season than George Pilkington. He may be 36 now, but the veteran centre-back is having yet another sterling season at Moss Rose. The former Port Vale and Luton defender has been named Macclesfield Player of the Season for three consecutive campaigns, and he’ll be up there again this term. With Pilkington and fellow veteran defender Keith Lowe at the back, Macclesfield currently top the National League table.
6. Harry Beautyman
Harry Beautyman of Northampton Town in action during the Sky Bet League One match between Northampton Town and Milton Keynes Dons at Sixfields Stadium on September 4, 2016 in Northampton,...
Certainly among the best players in non-league football, it’s somewhat unusual that Harry Beautyman has ended up back at Sutton United. The 25-year-old spent two seasons with the club in the National League South as a teenager, before moving up to Welling in the National League and eventually Peterborough in League One. With the Posh, Beautyman made more than 40 appearances over two seasons, giving a decent account of himself. Brief spells with Northampton and Stevenage followed, before the Newham-born central midfielder returned to Gander Green Lane. Capped twice by England C, Beautyman is an industrious and well-rounded midfielder.
5. James O’Connor
The only player in this seven who doesn’t play in the National League, 33-year-old defender James O’Connor - better known as Jimmy O’Connor - joined National League North side Kidderminster Harriers in October 2017. A move which raised one or two eyebrows, O’Connor made 40 appearances for Walsall in League One last season. The three tier drop was most likely motivated by the fact that it kept O’Connor close to his hometown of Birmingham. Having begun his career at Aston Villa, O’Connor has played plenty of Championship football with Doncaster Rovers and Derby County. He may have lost a touch of pace, but the former Bournemouth is still good enough to be playing in League Two.
4. Jack Payne
Not to be confused with another footballing Jack Payne - who is currently on-loan at Blackburn Rovers from Huddersfield Town - the Jack Payne we’re referring to here currently plays his football for Ebbsfleet United. Another central midfielder with plenty of Football League experience, Payne was playing League One football with Gillingham at the age of 18, and Championship football with Peterborough by the time he was 21. And yet, now aged 26, a player who once cost £700,000, is currently playing at the lowest level of his career. Having been a regular at Blackpool last season, Payne joined Ebbsfleet in the summer.
3. Danny Rowe
Danny L. Rowe of AFC Fylde claps the fans after the Emirates FA Cup Second Round Replay match between Wigan Athletic and AFC Fylde at the DW Stadium on December 12, 2017 in Wigan, England.
An obvious candidate for this seven, given that he currently tops the National League scoring charts, this is the fourth consecutive season in which Danny Rowe has scored goals for fun. Despite being signed by Manchester United from Preston for £50,000 at the age of 12, he had dropped into the non-leagues by the time he was 19. After bobbing around a number of non-league teams with mixed fortunes, he has been electric since joining Fylde in 2014. He scored 47 goals in 42 games as Fylde won promotion from the National League North last season, and he has 26 goals from 46 games so far this term. Rowe isn’t the quickest, most skillful or graceful of footballers, but from both close and long range, he has a fierce and accurate shot on him.
2. Nathan Blissett
A controversial inclusion in this seven, perhaps, since Nathan Blissett is only actually on-loan at a non-league club. The nephew of former England international and Watford legend Luther Blissett, Nathan is contracted to League One side Plymouth Argyle. Capable of playing on the either flank or as a second striker, Blissett also isn’t the most technically gifted, but he’s a tremendous worker who puts in the hard yards for his team. A constant thorn in defenders sides, the 27-year-old is very tall, physically strong and will run the channels for days. Blissett only joined Macclesfield on-loan in January, but he already has 4 goals in 11 games and may have been the addition John Askey required to get his team over the line.
1. Bruno Andrade
Feirense's Brazilian defender Bruno Andrade fails to stop the ball during the Portuguese league football match CD Feirense vs Sporting CP at the Marcolino de Castro stadium in Santa Maria...
In top spot is the only non-Englishman in this seven. Born in Portugal, Bruno Andrade joined the Queens Park Rangers academy at the age of 13. He made a handful of appearances for the Hoops, including one in the Premier League at the age of 17, before joining Woking in the National League in 2015. After a single season at the Kingfield Stadium, Andrade joined National League playoff contenders Boreham Wood. Probably the most skillful man in non-league football, Andrade has real quality on the ball, a box full of tricks, and most importantly of all, end product. He scored 12 goals in 45 games last season, and has already struck 21 times in 44 games in this current campaign. Also capable of playing on either flank or through the middle, Andrade is the very definition of a ‘luxury player’, but he’s an outstanding talent at non-league level.