Non-League Day

How family bonds have helped Gallagher's rise to the top

22 Mar 2024
Conor Gallagher, Chelsea

Meet the four Gallagher brothers and find about their life in non-league as well as Conor's incredible journey to Chelsea's first-team

Related Articles
Antonio returns to roots to inspire next generation
Mpanzu: My time with Luton has been a joyous ride
Raya's road from Southport to north London External Link

This weekend marks the latest Non-League Day, which celebrates grassroots football and encourages fans of Premier League clubs to take in a local non-league fixture over the international break.

As part of the Premier League's support for the campaign, we are featuring some of the top-flight players and their links with the non-league game.

Conor Gallagher (Chelsea)

Conor Gallagher's inspirational journey from eight-year-old Chelsea Academy signing to wearing the captain's armband is a tale of resilience, perseverance and above all, family love.

Gallagher is the youngest of four Chelsea-supporting brothers, whose love of football created a drive and support network that has led to all of them forging a career in the game.

Josh is manager at Raynes Park Vale FC, who play in the Isthmian League South Central Division, with twin Jake on the books as a player, while Dan is a midfielder for National League side Dorking Wanderers.

"You can see in the way Conor plays, he's obviously a tough player," Dan says.

"He has that work rate and determination and that's always been the base for me, Jake and Josh - but obviously Connor's nicked all the talent as well!"

The footballing progression of Conor's brothers, and the highs and lows they have experienced along the way, has given him a good grounding as he tries to navigate his own path in the professional game.

Conor Gallagher, Chelsea

"I was a young player at AFC Wimbledon and like everyone else, my dream is to do what Conor is doing," Dan says. "But young lads get released, I was 19, and Jake was released by Millwall at a similar age.

"I think Conor's seen that, realised how tough it is and he's taken it upon himself for it not to happen to him."

Conor, now 24-years-old, has had an eventful route to becoming a mainstay of the Chelsea midfield.

He rose through the youth ranks at Stamford Bridge, winning the FIFA Under-17 World Cup with England in 2017, before loan spells at Charlton, Swansea City, West Bromwich Albion and Crystal Palace.

Conor Gallagher, West Bromwich Albion

Facing stiff competition for places at Chelsea, coupled injury setbacks, there were many times Conor thought that he wasn't going to make it at his boyhood club.

"There's always people in front of you, that's throughout your whole career," Conor says. "That's how you improve and get that desire to get better.

"I went through that growing stage where your knees start playing up and for about three or four years I was struggling; I couldn't really run properly, I was really slow, unfit and there was a chance that I was going to be let go."

Strong character

But Conor never gave up on his dream and Josh believes that is down to his younger brother's character.

"People look at it now and think that Conor's got this great life of being a footballer, but they don't really know the sacrifices he makes to be where he is," he says.

"It was tough on the family. You always question whether is he going to be able to fulfill what he wants to in his career.

"It could have taken a lot of confidence out of him but it never did, and that's testament to his mentality."

Fast forward to the present day and Conor, under the guidance of head coach Mauricio Pochettino, is now a Chelsea first-team regular, playing in all but two of their Premier League fixtures this season.

Family influence

And despite his stellar rise, Conor has never forgotten the role his family have played to help him get there.

"The opinions I care about the most is my mum, dad and my brothers," Conor says. "They understand me more than anyone, they understand how I'm feeling in the game and if they think I can do better because they know what I'm capable of.

"I love to impress them and when they say I do well, I believe them because they're very honest with me.

"I'm very lucky to have a mum, dad and brothers like I do. I couldn't be luckier."

Conor Gallagher, Chelsea
PL support for wider football

As well as promoting Non-League Day, the Premier League offers significant financial support to the 72 clubs in the National League, the top tiers of non-league football, in addition to all 92 Premier League and EFL clubs and women and girls’ football and the grassroots game.

Between 2022-2025, the League has committed to investing £1.6billion to the wider game and communities. Of this, £400million will go to funding projects including the development of facilities and community and education programmes. It is the biggest voluntary contribution to communities and other good causes of any football league in the world.

Through the Premier League Stadium Fund, £192.7m of Premier League money has been invested into improving the stadiums and facilities of clubs in the EFL, National League System and Women’s Football Pyramid since 2000.

More than 5,630 grants have been provided to 1,083 clubs across 114 leagues.

The Premier League will also provide approximately £16m of financial support to National League clubs in solidarity, Academy and community funding between 2022-2025.

Also in this series


Latest Videos

More Videos