We have seen plenty of nonleague hotshots make the step into the Football League, and even the Premier League, in recent years. Jermaine Beckford, Jamie Vardy, Kwesi Appiah, Joe Lolley and Dwight Gayle are just a few of the semi-professional stars to go full time as they chase their footballing dreams.
However, according to Football Direct News, Luton Town hitman Andre Gray could be the next, as Premier League big guns Arsenal are apparently weighing up a move for the 22 goal Conference Premier leading scorer. England C international Gray, 22, has been a revelation at Kenilworth Road since joining from Hinckley United – and he wasn’t too bad there either! After hitting 39 goals in 90 appearances for Hinckley, Luton paid just £30,000 to secure his services, and it looks like money well spent. The striker has had a similar scoring record in nonleague’s top flight, hitting 49 in 96 appearances for The Hatters.
Gray’s contract expires in summer 2015, so if Luton are to make any profit, they will need to sell him this summer unless they can persuade him to sign a new deal. Unlikely if the rumoured Arsenal interest in him proves to be for real.
Now, it goes without saying that this would be a huge move for Gray, and a huge step up in terms of quality. It’s unlikely that he would be anywhere near the first team squad, instead he would probably be loaned to League One or Championship clubs during his first year or two as an Arsenal man. And even that would be a massive leap compared to the Conference. But these opportunities don’t come around often, and you have to back yourself and take that leap if you want to be successful.
Gray has risen to the level needed to be successful so far in his career, from Hinckley to Luton and England C, and I am sure he will be successful as he moves into the Football, or Premier, League this summer, either promoted with his current club, or at a new one. He has all the attributes to do it, including the confidence in his own ability. As one commentator famously said:
Remember the name.
England C registered a hefty 6-1 victory in their latest friendly in Bermuda, with debutant James Norwood firing a second half hattrick. The Forest Green striker, brought on at half time, nodded in a cross from Luton’s Andre Gray just eight minutes into the second half to open his account, and score England’s third of the night, before adding two more, including a penalty.
England started the game well, going two goals ahead in the first twenty one minutes through Antoni Sarcevic opening the scoring, before Marlon Jackson scored a penalty. The hosts did reduce the deficit on the stroke of half time through John Barry Nusum, but it was manager Paul Fairclough’s substitutions at the break that really changed the game. Gray, who took over the captaincy, and Norwood were joined by Mitchell Walker, Chris Stokes and Dan Bradley, and it was the Luton winger who stole the show, despite Norwood’s treble.
Not only did he provide the assist for Norwood’s first goal, Gray scored the final goal himself, having earlier won a penalty which Norwood scored to complete his hattrick. It was a comprehensive win for the team, and a fine way to sign off for the season.
England C: Preston Edwards (Mitchell Walker 46), Ryan Jackson, Fraser Franks, Anthony Acheampong, Mickey Demetriou (Chris Stokes 46), Harry Beautyman, Johnny Hunt, Antoni Sarcevic (Dan Bradley 46), Sam Clucas, Marlon Jackson (James Norwood 46), Andy Cook (Andre Gray 46).