The real hotbed of football is ... Easington

Steve Harper, of Newcastle United
Steve Harper, of Newcastle United
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BUDDING young footballers born in Easington have the best chance of becoming a Premier League star, according to new research.

The village has topped a table of areas across the UK to produce top-flight players as, despite only having a population of 2,100, it has delivered four star footballers.

Bob Taylor in action for West Bromwich Albion at Sunderland in October 1993.

Bob Taylor in action for West Bromwich Albion at Sunderland in October 1993.

London topped the table of the most prolific cities, producing 322 star sportsmen, but it would need to produce 10,481 players to compete with Easington in terms of population size.

England international Adam Johnson, though born in Sunderland, grew up in Easington, attending the village’s comprehensive school.

Four other stars who hail from the former pit village are ex-Sunderland and Ipswich Town midfielder Tommy Miller, former Newcastle and Spurs defender Kevin Scott, Newcastle keeper Steve Harper and West Brom legend Bob Taylor (pictured).

Easington councillor David Boye welcomed the news and said it highlights the village’s determined spirit.

He said: “We’ve had problems down the years as a former pit area.

“There was the pit strike of the 1920s and the miners’ strike of the 1980s but it’s helped make locals more resilient.

“If they want to get something they don’t just lie down, they roll up their sleeves and get on with it.

“And it helps we’re a semi-rural area where children play outside a lot.

“When I was growing up we’d kick a tennis ball around and 15 or 20 lads would join the game.

“It’s an outdoor lifestyle.”

The data was collected by fact-finding website TrueKnowledge.com, which analysed the birthplaces of all the 1,323 Englishmen who have played in the Premier League since it launched in 1992.

The research also revealed that Durham is the best county to come from if you want to make it in the Premier League.

It has 44 players from a population of half a million, which includes current Sunderland skipper Lee Cattermole as well as now-retired Manchester United captain Bryan Robson.

Site founder William Tunstall-Pedoe said: “If our data helps talent scouts uncover the next generation of Rooneys, Gerrards and Beckhams and, years from now, England wins the World Cup thanks in some small part to our data, it would be fantastic.”