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Welling United's Ben Greenhalgh is glad to be back where it all started following time at Jose Mourinho’s Inter Milan

By Alex Hoad
Football's Next Star winner Ben Greenhalgh with Inter Milan's technical director Piero Ausilio
Football's Next Star winner Ben Greenhalgh with Inter Milan's technical director Piero Ausilio

Ben Greenhalgh with Inter Milan's technical director Piero Ausilio

by Matthew Panting

Ben Greenhalgh feels like he has returned home by rejoining Welling – just three years after leaving for his Italian dream.

After breaking into the Welling first-team at the end of the 2008/09 season, and helping the Wings win the Kent Senior Cup, Greenhalgh quit the club at the start of the following season to take part in Sky One’s television show Football’s Next Star.

The prize was a six-month professional deal with Jose Mourinho’s Inter Milan. As we all know, Greenhalgh won the competition and the rest – as they say – is history.

But after deciding that life in Italy is not for him and surprisingly being snubbed by Football League clubs in England, Greenhalgh has turned full circle to rejoin the Wings.

“It’s good that I can come back here and everyone knows of me and that it feels a bit like home in that respect,” he admitted.

“I’m really looking forward to the game with Farnborough and if I’m not starting then I can’t wait to come on and see what happens.

“Even though I only played a few games here, it was the only place in England where I have played first-team games. It’s where I’ve played my best football in this country so this is where it feels good to be here at the moment.”

Greenhalgh feels he will develop better at Park View Road in Welling’s first team than trying to work his way up a development or reserve system at a professional club.

It’s certainly a chance to get in the shop window but he knows that he needs to be playing games first and foremost.

“I got international clearance last week and am now letting everyone know back in England that I’m here to play,” he added.

“I spent nearly two years in Italy and people forget about you when you are there so it’s been good to come back and get my name back out there. I had a lot of clubs interested but the best thing to do now is to come back here and get some first-team games in.

“It’s more getting some games in for me now and having the opportunity to play.

“I had a couple of trials but I didn’t think any of them were going to go anywhere. Some of them wanted to get me into their development squad and then loan you out to a club like Welling so I thought it best to come here.”

*Read more on Ben Greenhalgh's Italian adventure tomorrow as he talks of time spent training with the likes of like Javier Zanetti and Mario Balotelli.

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