You've really got to be something special to make it as a professional footballer. The transition between being an academy prospect to a fully fledged, contracted player is huge, with many youngsters dropping out of the game aged sixteen/seventeen after being released by professional clubs for a variety of different reasons, ranging from a lack of physicality to a lack of overall ability.
For some, rejection at such an early age can lead to a resentment of the game, which in turn sees players halt participation all together, maybe going back to it years in the future at a much lower, social level with mates. For most, though, they will continue to play and prove themselves; prove that they have got what it takes to become a pro and show their former clubs exactly what they're missing by making it elsewhere.
Hundreds of young pro's who have been released from top flight academy systems sign with teams in the National League, in order to gain valuable first-team experience in a physically demanding league with experienced professionals who have been around the game for years. They can learn from these players and use their experience to benefit them in the long run, in the hope that eventually it'll pay off and they'll make it back to the big time, or at least in League One.
In recent seasons, however, we are seeing more and more young professional footballers go against the grain and try something different. Perhaps inspired by the dramatic rise of a certain Jadon Sancho - who decided to up sticks and move to Germany and sign with Bundesliga title challengers Borussia Dortmund in 2017 having left Manchester City. Hundreds, if not thousands, of young British footballers are now competing in some of Europe's most obscure leagues, from the Norwegian Eliteserien to the Danish second division.
Eredivisie outfit Vitesse have long been known as Chelsea's feeder club, with many of the club's young pro's spending time on loan at the Dutch side to gain first team experience that they can use playing for anyone but Chelsea in England's lower leagues. This season however, there's something very different happening in Sweden, but it's not in the country's top division, nor is it in the second-tier, or the third.
Way down in the depths of the Scandinavian country's fourth-tier - the Division 2 Norrland - there is a team named Ytterhogdals IK (try saying that after a few beers). They draw in a typical attendance of around 250 each week and play at a stadium you would expect to see in the Southern League - England's seventh-tier. So, what exactly is so special about this club? And why on earth are you wasting my time telling me about them, I hear you ask. Well, it's because this season, the club have gone professional and boast a roster full of young British footballers - twenty of them, to be precise.