Alan Devonshire joined West Ham United from non-league Southall for £5,000 in 1976 at the age of 20. The winger went on to earn eight England caps, win the FA Cup and be named Hammer of the Year. He enjoyed a successful spell in charge of Braintree Town and is now manager of National League South club Maidenhead United…
I am really pleased for Michail Antonio being called-up by England for the first time. With the way he has played for West Ham this year, I think he deserves it.
It’s probably a bit like what happened to me in my career in that sometimes the higher up you go in football, you find it a little bit easier, believe it or not. I think he’s one of them and I’m pleased for him.
I think he’s definitely an attacking wide player, rather than a full-back. I know he has played at full-back a few times, but he is more of a powerhouse who gets up and down the wing and scores goals.
It’s a novelty if you can score goals attacking the ball at the far post these days. I wish him luck and I hope he gets his first cap on Sunday.
It’s now up to the manager and if he likes what he sees in training, he will pick him. I don’t think he will play in the first game on Sunday, as I think Sam has probably just brought him along in the squad to have a look at him and see how he settles into the international environment.
As someone who came through from non-league football to play for England, I am pleased to see Michail follow the same path.
I am sure there are a lot more players down in non-league who could play at a much higher level, and I’ve always said and thought that throughout my playing and managerial careers.
Most teams should take five or six non-league players every season and give them a chance to develop their talent and raise their fitness level in full-time football. At the end of the day, clubs will not lose money on them. That’s my opinion.
First, the clubs have to know what they are looking at when they watch players who are perhaps not the finished product. It’s then up to the coaches at these bigger clubs to get the best out of them, but at the moment I don’t think a lot of them are even looking.
Clubs want finished articles straight away and results now, and I can understand that because managers are under pressure to win matches immediately, but I don’t agree with that, and I know there are plenty of players out there who could help Premier League clubs if they were given the chance.
The money in the game now means they probably don’t feel the need to spend five or ten grand on a player who might turn out well in a year or two when they can spend £20million on a ready-made player from abroad.
To me, as someone who came through non-league football and didn’t become a full-time footballer until I was 20, that’s sad.
On a positive note, though, Michail has worked hard to get his opportunity to play for England and now I hope he takes it.