Making a mark

Jermaine Beckford has worked his way up through the divisions in English football to play in the Barclays English Premier League with Everton and has now moved to the big-spending Leicester City. By Nick Tomlinson.

It seems the richest clubs snap up players at an ever younger age these days, with regular stories of children as young as seven or eight being snapped up in the hope that one day they will be the next superstar.

That is not the only way to the top though, and Jermaine Beckford's career is proof that initial rejection does not have to mean an end to a footballing dream.

Beckford has worked his way up through the divisions in English football to play in the Barclays English Premier League with Everton and has now moved to the big-spending Leicester City.

His footballing career began at Chelsea, where he was in the same youth team as the likes of England international Carlton Cole. However, he failed to earn a contract with the Blues and was subsequently released.

For some that could have been the end of their dream and he dropped down to the Isthmian Premier League — the seventh tier of English football — with Wealdstone and also worked as a windscreen fitter for the RAC.

During his time at Wealdstone, Beckford had a prolific goalscoring record which attracted plenty of interest from Football League clubs.

In 2006, Leeds paid around GBP45,000 for the striker after an impressive season in which he scored 35 goals in just 40 appearances. Suddenly his career seemed back on track.

In the early days at Leeds, though, he failed to break into the first team, so was loaned out to Carlisle where he scored on his debut.

On his return to Leeds, again Beckford failed to figure in the first team set-up and for the remainder of the 2006/07 season he was loaned out to League One promotion hopefuls Scunthorpe, where he scored eight goals in 18 appearances to help the Iron go up as champions.

Beckford returned to Leeds for the start of the following campaign after the club had been relegated from the Championship and went on to be named League One player of the year.

His terrific form continued in the 2008/09 campaign as he scored 10 goals in his first eight starts and also scored his first professional hat-trick against Chester City.

He went on to score three hat-tricks in all competitions for the Whites that season and was offered a new contract, but the striker rejected the deal.

The frontman remained at the Yorkshire club for the start of the following season and had already scored 19 goals by Christmas, but with only six months remaining on his contract, he put in a transfer request which was accepted by Leeds.

It seemed that would be the end of that chapter of his career but just a few days later he secured his place in the hearts of Leeds fans forever when he scored the only goal of the game as Simon Grayson's side stunned bitter rivals Manchester United at Old Trafford in the third round of the FA Cup.

Beckford then scored twice in a fourth-round draw at Tottenham to earn a replay at Elland Road and although they lost that, Leeds finished second in the league and gained automatic promotion to the Championship, with Beckford scoring the promotion-clinching goal against Bristol Rovers on the final day of the season.

Beckford scored 31 goals in all competitions, 25 in the league and was not surprisingly voted the club's player of the year.

His form had not gone unnoticed at a higher level, and the fact that he was out of contract meant a move to a higher level was almost guaranteed, so it was no surprise when he signed a four-year deal with Everton.

Beckford struggled to nail down a regular first-team place at Goodison Park and was used mainly as a substitute, but in his first full season with the Toffees he scored 10 goals in all competitions. Beckford was released by Chelsea as a youngster and had to work part-time while playing non-league football. He has been dating Laura Duckworth, who appeared in court after being caught speeding in Beckford's car. Duckworth was in a Mercedes convertible belonging to Beckford when she was caught.

Name: Jermaine Beckford Position: Striker Club: Leicester City D.O.B: 09/12/1983 Moment to remember

Scoring the goal (for Everton) that knocked Manchester United out of the FA Cup in the third round at Old Trafford.

Moment to forget

The striker fell out with a section of Leeds fans after handing in a transfer request days before the Old Trafford tie.

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