English star eyeing Golden Boot race in France three years after non-league exit

Rhys Healey took the unusual path of moving to France following several spells at Football League clubs – and he has set Toulouse on course for promotion to the summit of French football.

Healey started his career with Connah's Quay Nomads' under 16s back in 2009, scoring an impressive 19 goals across 33 first-team outings and catching the eye of Premier League side Cardiff.

The Manchester-born prospect would not get the chances he desired in the senior side, going out on loan to each of Colchester, Dundee, Newport, Torquay and MK Dons before a permanent move to Stadium MK.

Healey came on to replace his childhood hero Craig Bellamy on his bow in the Premier League, having moved to Wales after being let go by Rochdale in his early teenage years.

After a year away from the game he took his chance to join Connah’s Quay, eventually making his way to Cardiff where his professional career begun.

He told The Mirror: “Making my debut in the Premier League and replacing him was something special.

"To this day I still speak about it and when people ask me about my career, that’s the first thing I tell them – playing against Chelsea and replacing Craig Bellamy. It was a dream come true.”

Following eight goals in League Two and 11 in League One after joining MK Dons in 2018, Healey took the bold decision to head to the French second division, and has gone on to score 23 times in 45 outings.

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“Last year I had a really good season. After coming from MK Dons, who played good football, I knew I’d fit in straight away," Healey said.

“It was just me being patient and adapting to the way they play, the language barrier, the culture.

“I picked it up really quickly, and the style of play fits me perfectly. It’s physical in certain parts but not as physical as in England."

The 26-year-old did make a total of four Premier League appearances during his time at Cardiff, with his first and second outing in the top flight coming five years apart.

Toulouse sit top of the table with 30 points from their 15 outings, with Healey level with Auxerre's Gaetan Charbonnier at the top of the scoring charts with eight goals.

The dream for Healey might well be to secure promotion to Ligue 1 and face off against the likes of Monaco, PSG and Marseille next season – but English clubs will be sure to keep an eye on his progress.

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