Dutch defender Wouter Verstraaten has rejected the chance to sign for Sunderland to stay with Northern Premier League South Shields.
The Blacks Cats wanted the versatile 24-year-old after a successful trial at the League One giants back in February. South Shields released their full list of retained players on Tuesday morning, a day after Verstraaten confirmed he was staying.
The PSV Eindhoven academy graduate had been attracting scouts from a number of other pro clubs before the coronavirus,after impressing in numerous roles during 14 appearances for the NPL Premier Division leaders since arriving from Northern League Consett in January.
Verstraaten told the club’s website he’d shunned Sunderland to stay after the reception he’d received from the Mariners and success so far, despite seeing it cut short. “I am very happy to have signed this deal, as it took a while before we finally got it done,” he said. “I am very pleased that South Shields have shown their confidence in me during these unprecedented times.
? We’re delighted to announce that Wouter Verstraaten has committed his future to the club by signing a new contract.
— South Shields FC (@SouthShieldsFC) May 18, 2020
“Ever since I joined the team in January, I have felt the professionalism and will to win this league.That this didn’t happen last season was obviously a very disappointing moment for the whole club but I feel that we are very motivated to make things right next season. That is one of the many reasons I have signed with South Shields.”
South Shields, who are still threatening legal action over being promotion, haven’t played since their memorable 5-3 victory over FC United of Manchester on March 14 and their devoted Dutchman is more than ready to get out in front of the Mariners Park faithful again.
He added: “I feel that it is the right place for me to grow as a player and improve in areas that will help me perform to a higher level. It is a pleasure to play in front of such a big crowd every week. There are not many places where the stage is set every weekend like it is at South Shields.
“I’m currently back in the Netherlands staying fit and spending some time with my family and I’m in regular contact with the management, but we just have to wait to see when the government allows us to get back together.”
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Images courtesy of The Non-League Paper & South Shields/Kev Wilson