Former Man Utd goalkeeper Luke Steele now scoring as striker in FA Cup fairytale

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Luke Steele is best known for representing the likes of Barnsley and Panathinaikos in goal… but today he’s playing as a striker for non-league side Deeping Rangers

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In May, Alisson popped up with a late header to snatch a win for Liverpool against West Brom and keep their top four hopes alive.

It was a reminder that, every now and again, goalkeepers do score. Very few, however, permanently swap defence for attack.

Former Manchester United ace Luke Steele is doing just that, playing as a striker – and scoring – for ninth-tier outfit Deeping Rangers.

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The 37-year-old, who last played professionally for Notts County in May, first put on his scoring boots when he was released by Nottingham Forest in May 2020.

“I wanted to continue playing football but just in a completely different light,” reveals Steele.

Which current Premier League goalkeeper would make it as an outfield player? Let us know in the comments below!







Luke Steele was on Manchester United’s books between 2002 and 2006
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Image:

Getty Images)

“When I thought about playing lower leagues in goal, it just didn’t give me that buzz. I’ve always loved playing outfield.

“When I was at Man Utd as a kid, I always played out from the back and it was one of my favourite parts of the job. At Barnsley and at different teams, we didn’t play out a lot.

“It wasn’t really a striker thing, it was more of a centre-midfield thing – I always played centre-midfield as a kid.

“I tried it out at Sunday league level last year and scored quite a few goals and different teams were asking me to play… to be honest I still think I’ll end up in midfield or maybe defence.”

And Steele, who made more than 250 Championship appearances during his career, is delivering at non-league level.

The goalkeeper-turned-striker, who is also a coach at Deeping Rangers, scored their only goal in a 4-1 FA Cup defeat to Winterton Rangers in August.

It was a special moment for Steele, who was part of the Barnsley side that beat Liverpool and Chelsea to reach the semi-finals of the FA Cup in 2008.

“Last year I scored a lot of goals at Sunday league level. I know it’s not a good standard, but I scored 18 in seven games!

“So then I moved up a few levels to Peterborough Northern Star, their reserve team, and – I say this modestly – but we won both games 3-2 I scored all six goals.

“Then everybody was not just laughing but saying, ‘Actually, he can do a bit.’ And I got picked for the first team at that level but the season folded because of Covid.







Steele (left) is now playing as a striker for Deeping Rangers
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Twitter/@DeepingRangers)

“This season, I accidentally started training with Deeping Rangers… they asked me to play and – although I’ve had a few injuries and I usually start on the bench because our striker Will Bird is a bit of a superstar – I’ve got a few goals.

“I scored in the FA Cup this season, which is an absolute achievement and a half. Some of my friends who were professional footballers didn’t score in the FA Cup.

“I turned up on the bench, which I was disappointed about, but came on for the last 15 minutes and managed to score.

“To score a legitimate goal – not just a corner or penalty – is something that I didn’t think I would do. But I have!”

As well as representing Coventry, West Brom, Barnsley, Bristol City and Forest in the Championship, Steele has played in the Europa League for Panathinaikos.







Luke Steele represented Greek outfit Panathinaikos in the Europa League
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Image:

Dean Mouhtaropoulos)

Few English players move abroad but Steele is urging more – regardless of age and experience – to give it a go.

“Jude Bellingham and Jadon Sancho having a great career out there at such a young age is fantastic.

“It just gives them a different perspective, away from the English academies. You learn so much from different ideas, I certainly did at 29.

“And then obviously you’ve got players who are more established… I’ve tried to encourage lads since I’ve been to Greece because it is such a different way of life and a time to learn more about the sport you play.

“You get stuck in a bit of a bubble and routine. It gave me a new lease of life at 29. I was like a scholar lad again, ear to the ground and just trying to make my way in a country where no one really knew me.

“There’s loads of advantages to it and, looking back now, I’m so glad I did that and didn’t just do it for a few months. I did it for three years and learnt so much from it. It was a few of the best years of my life.”







Steele is best known for his six-and-a-half-year spell at Barnsley
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Image:

Michael Regan)

Steele is combining his FA Cup exploits with the Youth Dreams Project, a coaching academy that gives kids from all backgrounds the chance to fall in love with sport.

The academy started eight years ago and has since worked with League One outfit Oxford United and various schools across the country.

“It’s something that all those financial advisers you get given as a kid at Man Utd or West Brom [tell you to do], it kind of makes you aware of what you’re going to do after you finish football.

“It’s one of the best things I’ve done… It’s so rewarding and fulfilling helping so many children get the opportunity to play sports.

“It doesn’t mean trying to make professionals, but so many children don’t even get the opportunity to try a sport other than football.”

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