After being released by Fulham at the age of 16, it is safe to say that Jordan Green had a rather unconventional route back into the professional game.
The Reds’ new signing was left without a club seven years ago and thought his football career was over. Playing time was sparse in between gaining an education and holding down a job, and it appeared he would never realise his lifelong ambitions of playing league football.
Fast-forward four years and the flying winger was playing non-league for Banbury United, when an opportune trial with Premier League outfit Bournemouth arose giving the then-20-year-old a chance to reignite his aspirations.
“I was working at Waitrose, so I was trying to play football on the weekend as much as possible,” admitted Green. “I heard about the Bournemouth trial, so I went every day to train as much as possible to give myself the best opportunity and, thankfully, it paid off.
“I was doing night shifts and had to drive up and play. It was weird because I broke my wrist so I had six weeks off, and in those six weeks before the trial I’d just go and train so I could go to the trial and give it all I had.”
A loan spell with Newport County followed for Green, who made his football league debut as the Exiles won 1-0 at Leyton Orient in August 2016. He then scored his first goal a couple of weeks later in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy against Plymouth Argyle.
The dream was now a reality for the south London-born winger, who had almost hung his boots up just a year or so earlier, but insists the desire to succeed kept him on track to realise his goals.
“It was just about trying to stay motivated and keep pushing to try and get as high as possible,” insisted the 23-year-old. “All of it is just character building that has got me, mentally, where I am. Football is obviously very mental – I think it’s more mental than physical – so I think it’s all helped in the right way.
“You have to keep the possibility of it happening in your mind to stay on track and try to get there. When I was working, I didn’t know what was going to happen but I felt like something would, and it ended up happening.”
From the south coast, Green moved to Somerset and made his Yeovil Town debut in a 4-3 defeat to newly promoted Forest Green Rovers.
He bagged his first Glovers goal in an FA Cup first round clash with Port Vale – netting a late equaliser to send the tie to a replay. Green and co progressed before beating Bradford City in the next round, with the tricky wide man yet again getting on the score sheet, to set up a tie with Premier League giants Manchester United.
It was a world away from the Evo-Stik League South, with Green set to go up against the likes of Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez as José Mourinho’s side visited Huish Park.
The FA Cup dream may have ended – at the hands of the eventual runners-up – but the quicksilver winger was still chasing another, and his performances on the pitch continued to catch the eye.
Four goals in his first campaign were added to by another four in the first half of this season – including a brace against former club Newport County as Yeovil won 6-0 back in September.
That sort of form prompted Barnsley to come knocking, and on Friday 18 January the former Fulham youngster put pen to paper on a three-and-a-half-year deal at Oakwell to become another piece in Daniel Stendel’s promotion-chasing jigsaw.
“There’d been talk from agents for a couple of months, so it’d been in the back of my mind whether it was going to happen,” admitted Green. “So for it finally to happen, I was over the moon about it.
“Knowing that just made me try to keep consistent with my performances at Yeovil to keep the interest there; it’s hard knowing that people are watching but you’ve got to deal with the pressure.
“If you know you’re doing well then you know that eyes are going to be looking from a higher league, so you’ve got to try and keep pushing.
“I really want to help the team get promoted as soon as possible, whether that’s automatic or the play-offs – hopefully automatic. It’s a good group and I think we’ve got a very good chance.”
Having watched the Reds dismantle AFC Wimbledon at the weekend, Green could be in line to make his debut on Saturday when Rochdale visit South Yorkshire.
He will also be hoping to be part of the squad that travels to Oxford United on Tuesday evening, with Banbury, where his football career reignited, approximately 30 miles up the road.
Though he has only been with Barnsley for a week, Green is already impressed by the standard of football that the Reds have been playing and is thrilled to be working with Stendel every day on the training ground.
“I only first met him when I signed last Friday, but I’m trying to push myself as much as possible and show that I’m driven and motivated,” asserted Green.
“Just sitting on the bench at Wimbledon, it was amazing to see the difference from what I’m used to but I was happy with what I saw. I can see good things coming.
“Even though at Yeovil they were good players, I always wanted to go up the levels and see how I fitted in, and I’m just buzzing so far, to be fair. You have to believe yourself because, if you don’t, no one else will believe in you.”