Former Premier League full-back Pascal Chimbonda will ply his trade in the Bay Plastics Northern Alliance Premier Division for AFC Killingworth this season – the 11th tier of English football.
Chimbonda, now 39, has played over 400 professional games for the likes of Tottenham Hotspur, Wigan Athletic, Sunderland and Blackburn Rovers. However, after leaving Northern League Division One side Washington last season, he was tempted into dropping two divisions – signing for newly-formed AFC Killingworth in a player/coach role on Friday evening.
“We have a quite strong Washington contingent from last season and he has kept in contact,” explained Killingworth manager Dean Nicholson.
“He was obviously clubless and played pre-season for Blyth (Spartans). We were then approached and as soon as we heard the potential of it happening it was a no-brainer for us.”
Being a former Northern League player himself, Nicholson hopes the signing will influence results on the field and bring the club closer to their goal of being promoted to the tenth tier within a short timeframe.
“I went to go watch him play a few times at Washington and he was the best player on the pitch by some way,” he added. As long as he puts performances like I saw last year he will play week in and week out – hopefully he will help us push towards the top of the division.
“The ambition of the club is to get into the Northern League at least in the next 12 to 24 months and Pascal is going to play a massive part in that as far as on and off the pitch is concerned.”
Despite his age, his new boss has been quick to rubbish any doubts over his overall fitness and would like the veteran defender to play a big part in the first team squad this season, alongside his coaching job within the academy.
“He still has a focus on his fitness, he goes running everyday – as far as that and his age it’s not a concern at all for me,” added Nicholson. “I know Pascal is keen to play a big role with us, including a lot of coaching in the local community.
“What comes with the coaching is that we get him on a Saturday as well – so that is brilliant for us.”
Article by Dan Simmonite (@dan_simmonite)