11 August 2012

Football's next talent show reject

Ben Greenhalgh is now a long way from Inter Milan.

Do you remember the 2010 Sky TV show Football Next's Star, when a host of young British and Irish players competed for a professional contract with Inter Milan?

That show was won by London left-winger Ben Greenhalgh, who did indeed get a six-month deal with the Italian giants. But where is he now?

The answer... Ebbsfleet United. That's right. Greenhalgh is now playing in the illustrious Conference Premier league after spending last season at global behemoths Welling United.

To be fair, Ben is still young, and may eventually become a professional footballer in the Football League. But unless something extraordinary happens, is is not going to become, as the name of the talent show suggested, Football's Next Star. He's more likely to be football's answer to Alex Parks - or another Sonny Pike, if you will.

The Daily Transfer Request today looks at the progress of some other players from Football's Next Star, and the two earlier series of Football Icon, to see where the soccer talent show wannabes are now...

Hicham Abdellah (Football's Next Star)
The Londoner was a divisive figure among fellow contestants at FNS, but Hicham eventually made it to the penultimate episode. Afterwards, the striker signed for Southend United, but Abdellah was actually last seen playing for Conference South team Staines Town, or as they probably prefer to be called now, Staines-upon-Thames Town.

Moses Ademola (Football Icon 2)
A hard-working striker, Ademola was a losing finalist on Football Icon 2 in 2006. He signed his first professional forms with Brentford before joining Woking, whom he helped win promotion to the Conference Premier last season. However, Moses then stunned Woking by signing of Eastleigh, who play a division lower in Conference South.

Mark Gradosielski (Football Icon)
He of the unpronouncable surname, Mark played in central midfield during the show. Although he didn't win the final, he did earn a short-term deal at Chelsea before having spells at Stevenage and Tooting & Mitcham. Sadly, the injuries that blighted Gradosielski's time on FI occured again - he ended his playing days due to recurring knee problems and is now an FA-qualified coach at Eastbourne Borough.

Sam Hurrell (Football Icon)
Sam won the first Football Icon in 2005 - his prize was a deal at Chelsea, but the Blues released him two years later. The midfielder had spells with several non-league clubs including St Albans City, Woking and even the Metropolitan Police! Now, though, Hurrell is living the American dream - sort of - at Premier Development League side New Orleans Jesters.

Carl Magnay (Football Icon 2)
Magnay is one of the more successful products of these talent shows. The centre-back won FI2 and a pro deal with Chelsea, playing for their reserves as well as having loan spells at Milton Keynes Dons and Northampton. Carl, who has one cap for Northern Ireland Under-21s, signed for his local club Gateshead earlier this year.

Dee Okojie (Football Icon)
Okojie is a midfielder who was a runner-up on the first series of Football Icon, and in the years since then, he has become a non-league journeyman. Formerly of Brentwood Town and Histon, Dee's most recent employers were Isthmian League Division 1 North outfit Aveley.

Connor Smith (Football's Next Star)
Young Connor hasn't done too badly, actually. The Irish forward, who was the runner-up on FNS, signed professional terms with Watford in 2010 and enjoyed a fruitful loan spell at Wealdstone last season, so still holds hope of making an impact at Vicarage Road. But earlier this year, Smith withdrew from the Republic of Ireland Under-19s squad because he was "too tired".

Craig Walsh (Football's Next Star)
An exceptionally-gifted Irish midfielder, Walsh struggled with homesickness in Italy, but made it all the way to the final before missing out on the Inter contract. Craig can now be seen playing back home in the League of Ireland Division 1, for Longford Town, where he broke into the first-team last year.

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