A NUMBER of players wrote themselves into national folklore in the summer at Euro 2020.
For England, several men became icons as Gareth Southgate’s men came within a penalty shoot-out of winning the tournament only to suffer heartbreak against Italy.
Italy were crowned Euro 2020 champions after beating England on penaltiesCredit: AP
But for every superstar who was tipped for stardom from a young age, there were other players whose road to the top had been considerably more gruelling.
Moore is now a hero in Wales.
But you don’t have to delve too far into the history books to find the striker plying his trade in non-league in front of a smattering of supporters and their dogs.
And the Welshman wasn’t the only former non-league hero at this summer’s tournament either.
Check out just seven of the best, below…
Pickford spent time on loan at non-league Darlington during his early days at SunderlandCredit: PA:Empics Sport
Pickford is now comfortably England’s No1 after a brilliant Euro 2020Credit: EPA
NOW unquestionably England’s most-experienced No1, the Everton stopper has experienced it all.
Pickford started his career at Sunderland, but was quickly loaned out to Darlington, then in the Conference Premier – now known as the National League.
The goalkeeper played 17 times during his half-season loan, before Darlington were relegated to the sixth tier of English football.
Pickford returned to Sunderland only to be loaned to Conference side Alfreton Town, Burton Albion (League Two), Carlisle United, Bradford (both League One) and Preston (Championship).
The now-England man quickly established himself as Sunderland No1 before his move to Everton in 2017.
By the time he’d moved to Goodison Park – making the England squad for the first time that same summer – Pickford had already played in every tier of English football from the very top to the fifth.
Now England’s No1, Pickford was exceptional in the run to he final.
Tyrone Mings played for non-league Yate Town and Chippenham earlier in his careerCredit: (C)Richard Chappell
The now-Aston Villa defender started – and played the full 90 minutes of – the 1-0 win over Croatia in the opening group game.
He then played the following two group games before Harry Maguire took his spot.
Mings showed his mental toughness as he put in an assured performance after a pair of shaky warm-up matches.
But it should be no surprise to anyone that Mings was unfazed.
After all, he’s experienced plenty of setbacks during his career.
Mings, now 28 and 6ft 5in, was released by Southampton’s youth academy in 2009 after eight years for being too small.
The defender then spent two years at school before returning to football with then-eighth-tier Yate Town in 2011-12.
Mings – then working as a barman and mortgage advisor to make ends meet – nearly quit football before joining Southern League Premier Division side Chippenham Town in the seventh tier.
The centre-back – then playing as a left-back – was signed by Ipswich in a deal worth £10,000 to serve as backup to Aaron Cresswell.
But a surge in form and a growth spurt saw him quickly become a towering centre-back, joining Bournemouth in 2015 for what would be their first-ever season in the Premier League.
Four years on the south coast saw him move to Aston Villa in 2019, where he has since gone on to become a crucial member of Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions squad.
Tyrone Mings partnered John Stones in defence vs Croatia, putting in a strong showingCredit: The Sun
Dominic Calvert-Lewin came off the bench late on vs Croatia having played for sixth-tier Stalybridge Celtic earlier in his careerCredit: Rex
MUCH like Pickford – team-mate for club and country – Calvert-Lewin’s route to Premier League and international football was a slightly longer journey than most.
The striker joined Sheffield United’s academy in 2005 aged eight, before spending nine years in the youth squad, then as a box-to-box midfielder.
Calvert-Lewin broke into the senior set-up in early 2014, with the Blades still in League One at that time.
With club bosses believing he needed more senior game-time under his belt, the forward was shipped off to sixth-tier Stalybridge Celtic on loan in December of that year.
However, after scoring six times in just five games for their first team, his loan was cut short and he returned to Bramall Lane in February 2015.
Calvert-Lewin signed a new long-term contract before being sent on loan to then-League Two side Northampton, with Sheff Utd believing he was ready for the jump in standard.
Despite never scoring for the Blades at a senior level, Everton saw his potential and brought him to Merseyside in the summer of 2016.
Fast forward five years and Calvert-Lewin has four goals in 11 games for England.
The striker even came off the bench in the win over Croatia and also in the last-eight victory against Ukraine.
Che Adams played for youth team St Andrews before playing or Oadby Town and Ilkeston Town
CAPPED twice by England’s Under-20s in 2015, Adams is now arguably the No1 striker in Scotland‘s squad for Euro 2020 after switching allegiances earlier this year.
While Adams has been on the books of Southampton and Birmingham in recent seasons, he didn’t always have it easy.
Before moving to Sheff Utd in 2014-15, the striker was on the books of ninth-tier Oadby Town, then in the United Counties League.
Adams then moved on to another non-league side, Ilkeston Town, making his senior debut against Jamie Vardy’s old club, Stocksbridge Park Steels in October 2013.
After close to 100 matches in non-league, Adams was snatched up by Sheff Utd, despite competition from Premier League and Championship clubs.
He played in all three games for Scotland at the Euros.
Che Adams is arguably Scotland’s top centre-forward at this summer’s EurosCredit: Getty
Kieffer Moore played in the 14th tier before working his way up the ranks, including a spell at Yeovil Town, picturedCredit: AFP
MOORE hasn’t been a regular starter for Wales of late.
In fact, the Cardiff striker had made the starting XI in just three of the nine games leading up to Euro 2020.
But he started the tournament opener against Switzerland and Wales boss Page was rewarded as Moore nodded home the equaliser to snatch a potentially crucial point.
He played four times in total for his country at the Euros.
Of all the footballing journeys listed here, none are quite as fascinating – and long – as Moore’s.
Born in Torquay, Moore kicked off his career in the south-west of England with Paignton Saints in the 14th TIER – the South Devon League Division Two.
The striker scored 47 times in just 43 games before moving to Truro in the Conference South (sixth tier) for the 2012-13 season.
Midway through the season, Moore moved to league rivals Dorchester Town.
He was then snapped up by then-Championship side Yeovil in the summer of 2013.
In two seasons at Yeovil, the club was relegated TWICE, to slip back down to League Two, with Moore released.
The forward joining Norwegian top-flight side Viking for one season, before snubbing offers from League Two sides Exeter and Leyton Orient to sign for National League club Forest Green.
One-cap England C international Moore joined then-Championship side Ipswich for £10,000 a year later before moving to Barnsley and then Wigan – all for one season apiece.
He joined Cardiff last summer and has since become a key part of both the Bluebirds and Wales set-ups, having scored six times in 18 games for his country.
Moore scored 20 times in 42 Championship games for Cardiff in 2020-21.
Moore scored Wales’ equaliser against Switzerland in their tournament openerCredit: The Mega Agency
Danny Ward started his career at non-league Wrexham and is now Wales’ No1Credit: AFP
WARD was preferred to Wayne Hennessey for Wales’ draw with Switzerland – despite not playing a league fixture since 2016-17.
Starting from the beginning, the Welsh goalkeeper started his career at then-Conference Premier side Wrexham – also loaned to league rivals Tamworth.
Ward joined Liverpool in 2012 and was even the club’s second-choice, behind Simon Mignolet, for much of the 2014-15 season.
But the goalkeeper only ever played three matches – with two of those in the Premier League – and was loaned out to Morecambe, Aberdeen and Huddersfield.
In 2018, then-fourth-choice at Anfield, Ward was sold to Leicester for £12.5million.
Ward has never played in the Premier League for the Foxes, but is unquestionably No2 to Kasper Schmeichel.
In 2020-21, seven of his 12 appearances in all competitions came for his country.
Ward played two FA Cup games, two Europa League matches and one Carabao Cup clash for Leicester last season.
But he played in all four of his country’s games at the Euros.
Tom Lockyer spent time in non-league after Bristol Rovers briefly fell out of the Football LeagueCredit: Getty Images – Getty
STUCK on the bench for the game against Switzerland, behind Chris Mepham and Joe Rodon, Wales ace Lockyer has non-league experience of his own.
The centre-back joined Bristol Rovers’ youth academy from Cardiff in 2011.
Lockyer quickly broke into the first-team for the then-League Two side, but was part of the squad who dropped out of the Football League in 2013-14.
The 6ft 1in defender – released by Cardiff for being too short – helped Bristol Rovers to back-to-back promotions as they stormed up to League One.
In 2019, Lockyer joined then-Championship side Charlton, where he spent just one year before moving on to Luton, where he played 20 times last season in the second tier.
The 13-cap Wales international was handed the No5 jersey for Euro 2020 but did not get a minute at the tournament.
Tom Lockyer is now on the books of Luton and had the No5 shirt for Wales at the EurosCredit: Getty
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