(Picture: Action Images via Reuters)
By Jon Couch
RUSHALL Olympic have landed a summer coup after completing a deal to sign former Sunderland and Republic of Ireland international Liam Lawrence.
The 35-year-old won 15 Republic caps in a glittering 18-year career which saw him turn out for the Black Cats as well as Mansfield Town, Stoke City, Portsmouth and Shrewsbury Town.
Lawrence spent last season at Bristol Rovers but has now moved into the Evo-Stik Northern Premier with the Pics.
“I’m looking forward to the challenge,” midfielder Lawrence said. “There are some talented young lads here and I want to help them to develop.
“I have known the manager [Wayne Thomas] for a number of years and we’ve had a few chats about me coming here over the summer, so I came along played against Walsall and liked what I saw.
“I don’t know too much about this level, to be honest, but I know that it will be physical and I’ll have to roll my sleeves and work hard, but I’m a football man and I just love playing the game.
“Hopefully I’ll be able to play with a smile on my face this season and help Rushall progress. I can’t wait to get started.”
Thomas was naturally delighted with his new arrival and believes the Irishman still has plenty to offer.
“Liam possesses outstanding quality” Thomas said. “He will bring a wealth of experience and leadership to the group.
“I am delighted to have been able to secure his signature; his presence will be massive for the youngsters around him.”
Lawrence is not the only former Premier League star to touch down at Dales Lane this week – Thomas has also signed his former Burnley team-mate Brian Jensen as the club’s new goalkeeper coach.
The 42-year-old made over 450 Football League appearances with the Clarets, West Bromwich Albion, Bury, Crawley Town and Mansfield Town and is still playing in Northern Ireland with Crusaders.
“We are delighted to be able to call upon Brian’s vast experience in the game,” Thomas added.
“He’s a great character and a fantastic coach, so it’s a real boost to have him on board here. He will pass on his knowledge to our goalkeepers and help them progress.”