Since Jamie Vardy exploded onto the scene in the top flight last year, wining the Premier League in the process, football league clubs have invested their interest in non league to find the few hidden gems waiting for their big opportunity.
In recent years non league players Kristian Dennis, Andre Gray, Joe Lolley, Harry Beautyman and many more have made the step up to the higher divisions and turned out to be great assets for the clubs giving them their break.
The story so far
Many younger players who play in non league have dropped down after failing to secure professional contracts at football league clubs. This was the same case with Ricky Miller who was at Charlton Athletic and Woking as a teenager before being released.
He admitted that early on in his career football was a bit sporadic for him citing personal issues off the field; his brother passing away when he was 16 and becoming a farther.
Miller made his debut for Stamford in September 2006 before becoming quite the journeyman striker in non league, playing as far up north as Boston United and down south for Cambridge City.
His big break came in 2014 however, after scoring 24 league goals in 40 games for Boston United in the sixth tier. Subsequently he was snapped up by Luton to replace Championship bound Andre Gray. Things didn’t necessarily work out at Luton after coming back from a loan spell at Dover, scoring 1 goal in 12 appearances in League Two.
A permanent deal followed at the Crabble Athletic Ground where he made a name for himself in the top tier of non league football. He scored an admirable 60 goals in 86 appearances over 2 seasons at Dover Athletic, narrowly missing out on the playoffs this season.
His exploits down south alerted many football league clubs including Bristol Rovers and Notts County, but today he has penned a three year deal at Peterborough United and moves on a free transfer which is a fantastic bit of business for the League One side.
After revealing Peterborough tried to sign Miller in January for a fee, director of football Barry Fry said: “Ricky has done brilliantly to score the amount of goals he has and hopefully he will come here and hit the ground running.”
So what is he capable of?
This season Miller has been dubbed the ’40 goal striker’ as he has scored 40 goals in the league this season, ending with a hat trick on the last day of the season against Barrow.
He has a strike rate of nearly a goal a game and will be looking to follow in the footsteps of Jamie Vardy and Andre Gray; both of whom are now regular goalscorers in the Premier League.