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New Needham Market skipper Gareth Heath did not foresee Leiston release

PUBLISHED: 17:02 12 June 2017 | UPDATED: 17:03 12 June 2017

Gareth Heath, in action for Leiston last season.

Gareth Heath, in action for Leiston last season.

© Copyright Stephen Waller

New Needham Market captain Gareth Heath admitted he wasn’t expecting to be released by Suffolk rivals Leiston.

The 37-year-old signed for the Marketmen at the weekend and will captain the side next season in the Isthmian Premier Division, where he will face his former club.

Heath gained legendary status at Victory Road, scoring over 100 goals in more than 250 appearances but will kick-off the new campaign in new surroundings after being let go by manager Glenn Driver.

“I did not foresee it (release) happening this summer, but it’s fine – that’s football – you move on and I am more motivated than ever,” said Heath.

“I was disappointed my release was not for footballing reasons.

“It was a difference of opinions. I have mine, managers have theirs, as do the other players, fans and journalists.

“I had an excellent relationship with the supporters, committee, chairman, (vice-chairman) Peter Mayhew especially, and the people in the background at Leiston who don’t get the headlines.

“I will be going back there at some point next season and hopefully I will get a good reception – it will be nice to catch up with some familiar faces and say hello.”

Heath netted 14 times for the Blues last season, setting up a further 16 goals, but was slightly disappointed with his total as Leiston just missed out on the play-offs.

“I did not get where I wanted to with regards to goals,” added Heath, who explained Needham have given him a pathway on which to study for his coaching badges, as part of his deal.

“I normally get around 20 goals a season but I’ve played deeper over the last couple of seasons.

“My stats suggest that I am still more than capable of playing at this level though.”

Given his pedigree, Heath was a wanted man, but the veteran midfielder was keen to stay at as high a level as possible.

“My phone has not stopped ringing and I had opportunities to play for other teams in this league as well as in the two divisions below,” he said.

“I had offers to play for clubs at a lower level but I want to play as high as I can for as long as possible.”

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