Stepping Stones as Ben hopes to go from Inter to Inverness
16:30 01 February 2013
Ady Kerry /AK Pictures
Maidstone United’s Ben Greenhalgh hoping for contract with Scottish Premier League side
It would be all too easy for Ben Greenhalgh to look back in anger at what might have been when he sees how his old Inter Milan team-mates are doing these days, making multi-million-pound moves and playing to packed stadia.
Instead, the 20-year-old, who is turning out for Maidstone United after his 18-month stay with the Nerazzurri ended a year ago, is getting his head down and trying to make it as a professional back in the UK, or, more precisely, Scotland.
Having won Sky One’s Football’s Next Star show back in 2010, the winger signed a deal at the San Siro, training with the reserves and first team occasionally under Jose Mourinho, while also having a loan spell in Italy’s third tier with Como.
But towards the end of last season he came back to former club Welling United and in the summer joined Ebbsfleet United as he looked to build his career back on home shores. However, a lack of playing time with the Fleet saw him join forces with the Stones at the start of January in what would appear a major fall from grace.
“I knew this could happen. I could have stayed in Italy, but it was a decision I had to make. I had the opportunities, but I decided I wanted to come back here,” he said.
“The situation with Maidstone might be a step too low at the moment, but it looks like they will be promoted. It’s not a league I expected to be playing in.”
His move to the Gallagher Stadium isn’t a case of wasted talent but a bid to get himself in the shop window.
He is doing exactly that at Scottish Premier League side Inverness Caledonian Thistle, who are second at the moment under the guidance of former England legend Terry Butcher. He spent a week there earlier this month and starts a second trial there on Sunday this weekend.
“I didn’t know how well they were doing until I got up there,” said Greenhalgh, who hails from Orpington.
“The whole set-up is very relaxed. I did a week of training, which is why I’m going back up so I can maybe play in some games.”
It’s a case of rebuilding his reputation, which he feels went off the footballing radar while in Italy. However, he has no regrets about his time abroad, having come through the ranks and remained friends with players plying their trade in Serie A at present.
In fact, his old room-mate Mattias Destro signed for Roma for £10 million in the summer to replace Liverpool new boy Fabio Borini. He has also earned four caps and scored once for Italy; his first game came as a starter in a friendly against England while Greenhalgh was sitting on the bench at Stonebridge Road.
“One thing the show did was put me out there in the public, even if there were a few critics of it,” he said.
“At the same time, being on the show and being in Italy meant a lot of clubs forgot about me because I was away for so long. When I came back I realised how hard it is to get into a side.
“If it was the same situation here being at a club like Inter, then the interest might have been a little higher.”