Young people Be an Ambassador Five footballers who have overcome barriers to get to the top Street League uses the power of sport to get young people #movingintowork, with our football programme changing lives since 2002. With barriers to employment getting in the way for many of our young people, inspirational figures from the biggest sport on the planet can help give them an extra push and inspire them on their journey. Here are the stories of a few inspirational professionals from the beautiful game who have overcome various obstacles in their lives, been on their own path and have never given up. Troy Deeney Troy Deeney, Premier League side Watford’s club captain, has been on a remarkable ride before he made his way up to arguably the best domestic football competition on the planet. In terms of his professional life, Deeney has risen up through the leagues after impressing initially at League Two side Walsall and then earning a big move to Watford in 2010. Since then, the rest is history, as captain Troy played a vital part in the Hornets’ rise up into England’s top flight. It hasn’t been all plain sailing for the 28 year-old, though. As a youngster he was expelled from school and left education without any GCSEs. In 2012, during the height of his career with Watford, Deeney was sentenced to ten months in prison after kicking a man in the head during a brawl following the death of his father. After showing remorse and the fact that he was a first time offender, Deeney was released from prison after three months. Since those dark times, Deeney has earned GCSEs in English, Maths and Science, has captained Watford to Premier League promotion, been touted by many as a possible England star, and has become a father, maturing along the way and turning his life around in the process, so much so that he openly talks about his past and how he used to behave. Jamie Vardy Jamie Vardy made a name for himself last season after Leicester City’s Premier League title-winning campaign, where the lightning quick frontman helped fire the Foxes to glory with some vital goals. But there’s a lot more to Vardy than meets the eye. Described as one of the most miraculous rises in the history of the game, Jamie Vardy’s story is nothing short of inspirational. After being released by Sheffield Wednesday as a teenager, Vardy combined playing for non-league side Stocksbridge Park Steels youth academy alongside working in a carbon fibre factory. From there, he was promoted to the first team setup, where he impressed before being snapped up by Northern Premier League side, Halifax Town. His scoring exploits earned him another move to Fleetwood Town where he fired them to their first ever Football League promotion, earning himself the status of a full-time professional footballer. Championship big boys Leicester City then came calling. He won promotion with the Foxes and, as mentioned previously, has gone on to win the biggest domestic league in world football and represent, and score for, his country at the European Championships. What a rise! Luis Suarez Luis Suarez, the Barcelona superstar, widely regarded as one of the best players on the planet, has overcome various barriers in his life which have enabled him to reach the pinnacle of the sport. Born in Montevideo, Uruguay, Suarez spent the first years of his life in Salto, playing shoeless football in the streets because his parents couldn’t afford football boots. His father, who was unemployed, eventually uprooted little Luis and his six siblings to the Uruguayan capital in a quest for a better life and more employment opportunities. Sadly, at the age of 12, Luis Suarez’s father deserted him and his other six children, resulting in Suarez jnr mixing with the wrong crowd, rebelling and getting into trouble. Despite those setbacks in his formative years, Suarez still had his first love – football. To this day he has credited all the hardships he faced as a youngster for fuelling his desire to succeed in football, and boy has he done that! Vinnie Jones Part of Wimbledon’s infamous ‘Crazy Gang’, Vinnie Jones, who knows all about Street League after linking up with us at Hyundai’s Euro 2016 Fandome, has been on an unlikely but inspiring journey. Starting out at non-league side Wealdstone, Jones’ tough tackling, no nonsense approach earned him a move to Wimbledon. From there he went on to play for Leeds United, Sheffield United, Chelsea and QPR, which is an impressive climb in itself, but the no nonsense midfielder has made the unlikely leap from the pitches to the Los Angeles hills after turning his hand to acting and capitalising on his tough man image. Often being typecast into roles as violent criminals, Jones’ rise from non-league football, where he combined playing with working as a hod carrier on building sites, to Hollywood premiers has been nothing short of sensational. Clarence Seedorf Clarence Seedorf, the former Real Madrid, Inter and AC Milan midfielder, is considered as one of the best players in his position in recent times. Born in Suriname, Seedorf moved to Holland when he was two years old, a country he went on to represent an impressive 87 times at international level. It wasn’t all plain sailing for the Dutch powerhouse, though. Speaking during a visit to Street League’s South London Academy in 2015, Seedorf had some words of encouragement for the young people on our Academy programme after overcoming barriers himself. He said: “The challenges in outside life made it difficult but you have to focus on yourself. I set myself goals and aimed to achieve them, which I did. Goal-setting helped me focus on what I needed to do and enabled me to have a plan.” Outside influences could have got the better of Seedorf, but he remained headstrong and determined to better himself. He added: “I studied from the age of 16. Nobody told me to continue studying, nobody supported that process. At the age of 28 or 29 I started to do some courses and I went to university. I wanted to be knowledgeable and better myself. It's about getting what you can and saying 'this is me, give me a chance' and sticking at it. Many of my dreams became reality because of persistence and having the right attitude." If you’d like to get involved with Street League click here.