9 former pros we can’t believe are still playing non-league in 2023
We cannot get enough of these nine former professional footballers refusing to succumb to the passage of time and continuing their careers below the Football League in 2023.
While many professionals fall out of love with football after years in the profession, others are hopeless addicts that need to get their fix wherever possible.
Here are nine former pros who all share an undying love for the game and are rolling back the years in non-league football.
Foster called time on his playing career last September, but the former Manchester United and England goalkeeper has been coaxed into joining National League leaders Wrexham.
“I’m over the moon,” Foster said after joining the club owned by Hollywood stars Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney.
“I’ve been at the club an hour this morning and it seems a really nice place. Everyone is down to earth and the manager’s top-class.
“It’s changed a lot since I was last here, but it’s nice to be back and it’s nice to be back as a player too. It will be interesting to see how my body feels after training today.”
Wrexham are three points clear of Notts County as they look to end their 15-year exile from the Football League.
Ex-England goalkeeper Ben Foster has come out of retirement to sign for National League side Wrexham.#BBCFootball
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) March 23, 2023
Hughes hasn’t played in the Football League since 2014, notably scoring goals for fun at Coventry and West Brom, but is currently turning out for Midland League Premier Division outfit Stourport Swifts.
He netted four times in 19 appearances last season and, to the best of our knowledge, is still going strong at 43.
A former Premier League player with Reading, Lita is still plugging away with Ilkeston Town in the more-than-a-mouthful named Southern League Premier Division Central.
Aged 38, Lita has enjoyed a career that has featured stints in Thailand and, even more obscurely, a now-defunct side from Crete.
Liverpool-born Jennings is still playing in Merseyside although, when he joined Bayern Munich, you might have imagined it’d be for one of the city’s Premier League sides.
Instead, the forward turns out for Northern Premier League staples Prescot Cables. He never made it in Germany and had unsuccessful spells at Barnsley and MK Dons.
Jennings is still just 30. We hope he’s enjoying himself.
A Football League stalwart, particularly with Swansea City, Trundle was renowned for scoring the type of goals normally unseen outside of Roy of the Rovers comics.
Blessed with an excellent strike, the striker came out of retirement in 2016 and has scored goals for fun for Cymru South side Ammanford. Fair play to him.
The Soccer AM Showboat King
Lee Trundle 👑 pic.twitter.com/28CCf9fNdC
— My Greatest 11 (@MyGreatest11) March 22, 2023
We were devastated when Tessem hung up his boots last summer. Yes, he’s 50 and deserves to sit down with a chocolate digestive and read the Sunday Times, but he’s been a staple of our non-league trawls for years.
Thankfully, the former Southampton midfielder remains registered as a player for Wessex League Division One side Hythe & Dibden, making appearances when his new media duties allow. Good.
Pugh was part of the Bournemouth squad that rose from League One to the Premier League under Eddie Howe and has now returned to the game two years after his retirement.
The midfielder has signed for Clitheroe Town, while also agreeing to dnote his wages to charity.
“Delighted to be given the opportunity to help out my local town and club in their final push for the playoffs,” Pugh said after his signing was announced in March 2023.
“Clitheroe have kindly offered to make a generous donation to a local charity on my behalf in lieu of wages. I can’t wait to get started.”
Considered one of England’s most promising strikers during his Aston Villa days, Delfouenso won the Golden Boot at the U19 European Championship in 2009 but was loaned out five times by his parent club.
He eventually settled at Blackpool, scoring 29 times in 146 appearances, before brief spells with Bolton and Bradford.
The striker recently signed for AFC Flyde and made a goalscoring debut for the National League North table-toppers.
“With Nathan’s football intelligence, experience and technique, he will add to our squad dynamic and support the team in the last 11 games of the season, with our imminent challenges and opportunities in front of us,” their director of football, Chris Beech, said at his unveiling.
A product of West Ham’s academy, Reid made his Hammers debut during a Premier League win at West Brom in May 2006, but couldn’t properly break into the first team at Upton Park.
After a nomadic career in the Football League, notably with Sheffield United and Bradford, the winger is now racing down the touchline at Beaconsfield Town of the Southern League Premier Division South.