Goalkeeper Sam Russell has rejoined Forest Green Rovers just over 12 months after moving to fellow National League side Gateshead.

The 33-year-old keeper played 144 consecutive league games for Forest Green after signing in January 2012 and pens a one-year contract after playing last season in the North East where he made 44 league appearances for The Heed.russell

Russell agreed to mutually terminate his contract with Gateshead halfway through his two-year deal.

He will provide competition for Rovers number 1 Jonny Maxted, 22, after fellow keepers Steve Arnold, Lenny Pidgeley and Dale Eve were released at the end of the 2015-16 season.

Russell will wear the coveted number 23 shirt.

A fans favourite during his initial three-and-a-half year spell at The New Lawn after leaving the now defunct Darlington, where he first played under FGR manager Mark Cooper.

Russell’s handling, shot-stopping and distribution have affirmed his ranking among the National League’s top goalkeepers over the last five years.

Sam Russell said: “I’m absolutely delighted to be back.

“It’s no secret that I loved every minute of my last time here. It wasn’t a case of not wanting to stay, I didn’t want to leave in the first place, but that’s football.

“As soon as the opportunity came up I jumped at the chance, (Forest Green) is a fantastic club and and I missed being at such a good club.

“I’ve always been ambitious and want the same as the club and that’s to get Forest Green promoted.”

Asked how he thought he might fit into Mark Cooper’s plans, with Maxted already in the squad, Russell said: “Obviously I want play as many games as Ic an.

“If that means the two keepers pushing each other, that’s what will happen. I just want to help the football club as much as I can.”

Russell began his career as a teenager at hometown club Middlesbrough where he worked alongside Australia international duo Mark Schwarzer and Brad Jones in the goalkeeping department.

He then gained vital experience in a number of loan spells, spending time on loan with Gateshead and had his first taste of life at Darlington in a brief loan spell. An additional loan period in the Football League at Scunthorpe United handed Russell big game experience.

Eventually he left Middlesbrough, making a permanent switch to Darlington, and he seized the opportunity of first team football with both hands – making 106 League Two appearances over three seasons.

Russell made the switch to Rochdale for the 2007-08 season where he featured for the Spotland club over two seasons.

A move into non-league circles followed with a switch to Wrexham. Russell spent one year at the Racecourse Ground but returned to Darlington in 2010-11, who were also now a non-league side, for a final spell at the club and first experience playing under Mark Cooper.

Source: www.forestgreenroversfc.com

Image: www.actionimages.com

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