Nathan Arnold says Boston United boss Craig Elliott has helped him to fall back in love with football.
The winger was left seriously considering his future last season following a number of contributing factors.
An unsatisfying loan spell at Salford City appeared to be the final straw for the 30-year-old, who was also left questioning whether there was anything left to be achieved following four promotions and as many appearances at Wembley.
His well-documented struggles with anxiety, plus business interests, also appeared to be steering the former Mansfield Town man in a different direction. Until he received a phone call from Elliott.
“I sort of lost the love for a bit at the turn of the year, but Craig’s given me that spark again,” Arnold said.
“Coming into pre-season, that competitive edge is still there, instilled inside of me.
“It’s great to put some kit on as I hadn’t played competitive football since March. I’m just grateful I’m getting fit and healthy.”
Arnold found himself caught up amongst the brutal realities of the business side of the game, suddenly discovering that his stock wasn’t quite as high as it had once been to some people.
That left him pondering whether he felt attached to the game enough to continue, and whether his previous highs could be repeated.
“I think I’m wise enough to know and understand that there’s a perception in football where you turn a certain age,” he added.
“Football’s a business as well, so I turned 30 and realised I’m probably not going to make football clubs a lot of money in terms of the transfer that’s attached to it.
“Then you have to love the game. I’ve always loved the game but I understood that fulfilment can be attached to winning things.
“But the reality is that I achieved all these things in the space of three years and then I thought ‘what’s next?’
“My dreams, goals, aspirations from a young boy, I ticked those boxes. I was fortunate enough to play in some big games and play at Wembley four times and get promotions.
“I came away a little bit, but I started to miss it and realise I’ve still got a lot left in the tank.
“I’ve come with the right intent, to win things.
“I’m a winner and, hopefully, I can spread that throughout the group. There are some good lads here.”
Elliott’s desire to bring Arnold to the Jakemans Stadium, offering him the chance to pass on his knowledge as he works with the coaching team, helped convince the player he still had lots to give the game.
Arnold said: “He showed love towards me. He told me he wanted my experience and that, for me, that loyalty, honesty and openness is something that goes with who I am as a person.
“I knew that we’d hit it off and it was a good avenue to take.
“The fact it’s part time is another reason why I signed. I have other commitments away from football.
“It was just perfect timing. What better club than Boston to go part time?”