Whickham have signed South African international Matty Pattison.
The 31-year-old former Newcastle United midfielder joins the Northern League Division One club from South Shields.
Whickham manager Robin Falcus said: “This is the biggest signing in the club’s history. To get a player of Matty’s calibre is a huge statement of intent and I’m delighted to get the deal done.
“Matty is a fantastic addition to our squad and I’m sure he will help us kick on to the next level.”
Johannesburg-born Pattison started his career with Newcastle United, making his first-team debut against Everton in the Premier League in 2006. After ten first-team appearances for the Magpies, he joined Norwich City and went on to play more than 50 times for the Canaries.
He then returned to South Africa, spending five years playing in his homeland, where he went on to be capped five times at international level. Pattison returned to the North East in 2014, signing for Gateshead, and had a spell at Blyth Spartans before signing for South Shields in 2017.
He said: “I’m delighted to sign for Whickham. The club is right on my doorstep and I’ve followed their results closely over the last couple of years.
“I thoroughly enjoyed my time at South Shields and it was a tough decision to leave, but with all the travel needed playing for Shields, it was conflicting with my family life and becoming tougher and tougher. I know Robin well and the deal was done pretty quickly. I can’t wait to get started now.
“I have been in football now since I left school and have been on the road a lot of my life and missed out on a lot of time with the kids. It’s still going to be a commitment with Whickham, travelling and training, but the fact the Glebe is three minutes from my house is a massive bonus and gives me more flexibility.
“Since getting promoted last season to Division One, the team have been a bit unlucky this season with a couple of results and I don’t think we are a million miles away from doing well and making some progress. I’m sure I can use my experience to help the younger lads in the team.”
Whickham chairman Paul Taylor added: “It’s great for Whickham to attract a player like Matty and shows the ambition of the club. It’s vital that we stay in Division One and hopefully Matty’s signing will help on the pitch and also attract bigger crowds to our games.”
Pattison will go straight into the squad for Whickham’s FA Vase second qualifying round tie against Whitley Bay at the Glebe on Saturday (3pm kick-off).