Football’s Next Star cast and what happened next – including Ronaldo body double

A little more than 11 years ago, Sky released Football’s Next Star, which has since become a cult classic among English supporters.

The show saw 7,000 people attempt to win a professional contract with Serie A giants Inter Milan, with ten players heading to Italy for the final stages of the competition.

Alongside Jamie Redknapp, Inter coach Marco Monti whittled down the field before Ben Greenhalgh beat Connor Smith in the final.

Several have gone on to have careers in football, mainly in non-league or the League of Ireland, though one has even become a body double for Cristiano Ronaldo.

Here Daily Star Sport looks at what happened to the final 10…

Dominic Matcham (Eliminated in episode two)

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His performances in training and the hopefuls’ first game in Italy meant that Dominic Matcham was the first of the final 10 to depart.

The central midfielder went on to have trials at Cardiff City and QPR following his exit from the competition.

He would go on to sign a one-year youth contract with Rotherham but was not kept on permanently and eventually went to Loughborough University to study International Business.

He is currently the founder and managing director of sports marketing and events company Invades.

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Jordan Fincher (Eliminated in episode three)

Like former Premier League player and cousin Anthony Gardner, Jordan Fincher was introduced as a ball-playing centre-back.

At first, he impressed the Inter coaches, but a poor performance against the club’s under 17s saw him sent home.

Fincher would earn trials with Portsmouth and Cardiff before joining Barnet’s youth system.

He would also have spells at Stafford Rangers and in Portugal, with his last club being semi-pro side Romulus FC.

Reece McGillion (Eliminated in episode four)

Reece McGillion entered the show as a solid defender but was eliminated from the competition after a draw with Monza’s youth team.

He would also earn a trial at Cardiff, but has spent most of his football career in Scotland, at the likes of Hamilton Academical, Pollock and Greenock.

At one point, the defender was even on the verge of joining Scottish Premiership side Kilmarnock, but cruelly failed his medical.

Injury issues curtailed his professional career and he now plays for amateur team Renfrew Juniors alongside his full-time firefighter job.

Anthony O'Connor (Eliminated in episode five)

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Anthony O’Connor went down in the show’s history after claiming he could be the next Thierry Henry.

While he provided several assists for his fellow competitors, his prophecy did not come true and he was sent home following a game against Primavera.

He has had a successful career in semi-professional football, mainly playing in the Southern and Isthmian leagues.

As well as playing for the likes of Daventry Town, O’Connor has also become an accountant.

Nathan Simpson (Eliminated in episode five)

Having failed to show his talent on a consistent basis, Nathan Simpson was eliminated alongside O’Connor.

He had been in the danger zone for two weeks running and his luck on the show ultimately ran out.

It is unknown if he is still playing football.

Gavin Colton (Eliminated in episode six)

Best known for being allowed to take part in a first-team training session by Jose Mourinho, Gavin Colton was eliminated after breaking his arm against Monza.

Several clubs expressed an interest in signing him, with Colton opting to join Hull City where he would rise into their reserve side.

Colton would return to his native Ireland to study in Dublin, as well as playing for UCD and Cherry Orchard.

He was then offered a scholarship to play at the University of Kentucky for four years and has since studied for a Master’s in Creative Writing while coaching a women’s team.

Hicham Abdellah (Eliminated in episode six)

Regularly praised by host Jamie Redknapp, Hicham Abdellah was a surprise departure at the semi-final stage.

He would then earn a two-year scholarship with Southend United, before playing in the Cyprus second tier.

Abdellah returned to England and has had a successful non-league career, playing for Banbury United, Northwood and Uxbridge.

Craig Walsh (Eliminated in episode seven)

One of the early favourites to win the competition, Craig Walsh impressed in central midfield before being eliminated in the final

He had put his career on hold to in an attempt to win the Inter contract, missing out a deal to join West Brom as a result.

He has gone on to have a successful career in his native Ireland, playing for the likes of Shamrock Rovers, Bohemians and Shelbourne.

Walsh was then banned for 12 months for a doping violation, before joining Inchicore from Bray Wanderers last summer.

Connor Smith (Runner-up)

The runner-up, Connor Smith impressed the Inter Milan coaches with his work-rate up-front and was one of the more consistent performers.

That consistency is probably why he has gone on to have the most successful career of all the Football’s Next Star competitors.

He joined Watford in 2010, making eight appearances for the Hornets after loan spells at Gillingham and Stevenage.

After departing Vicarage Road, he would also play for AFC Wimbledon, Plymouth Argyle and Yeovil Town, before slipping into non-league to play for Wealdstone and Boreham Wood.

Ben Greenhalgh (Winner)

After winning the show, Ben Greenhalgh was handed a six-month contract by Inter, being part of the squad that won the Champions League in 2010.

Since leaving the San Siro, Greenhalgh has mainly spent time in England’s non-league with Concord Rangers, Ebbsfleet United and Maidstone United.

He did have a brief, year-long spell in the Scottish Premiership with Inverness Caledonian Thistle, but would only make six appearances.

He has also been cast as a body double for Cristiano Ronaldo, Mesut Ozil, Gareth Bale, Luke Shaw and Lionel Messi.

The 28-year-old still plays football, recently joining Isthmian Premier Division side Margate.

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