Stroud-born goalkeeper Stuart Nelson has heaped praise on Bristol Rovers boss Joey Barton and assistant Clint Hill after spending pre-season with the club he grew up supporting.
With the season set to get underway in nine days’ time, Nelson is searching for a new club after leaving Crawley Town in the summer, returning to his Gloucestershire roots.
He said: “I’m looking for a club, but have loved the opportunity to go into Bristol Rovers during pre-season and can’t thank Joey (Barton) and Clint (Hill) enough. I grew up supporting the club and standing on the Blackthorn End at The Mem, so not only am I ready and prepared for my potential new club, I get to train day in day out with the team closest to my heart.”
Nelson has had a stellar career in the game, racking up more than 500 professional games at the likes of Norwich City, Aberdeen, and Brentford and he hopes this experience will help him find his next club.
“It’s not the first time I’ve been out of contract,” admitted Nelson. “You have to kind of hold your nerve and stick with your own realistic beliefs of where you should be and trust in the process.”
At the age of 39, and in the shape of his life, Nelson insists he has plenty to offer and age is just a number, he added: “I have had a personal trainer to maximise my potential as that side of my life is totally focused on football, how I perform, what I put into my body through my nutrition, etc.
“I have done all this to put myself into a position where age isn’t an issue and is literally just a number. It’s not my problem, it’s the ageist people that look at my date of birth and don’t look any further.
“I can bring a lot to any team as no1,no2, no 3 or training goalkeeper, I understand all those roles and what they entail, so through not just my ability as a goalkeeper, they would also get the experience of more than 500 professional games, enthusiasm, leadership, driving players on around to be even better, complete professionalism and a desire to always be the hardest worker in everything.
“I would push and support all the other keepers, while always being 100% ready and reliable when called upon. I am the fittest I’ve ever been in my life – I still have so much to give.”