By Mark Carruthers
Wouter Verstraaten has left South Shields and returned to his native Netherlands to focus on a career outside of football.
Verstraaten went on to make 24 appearances for the Mariners across two seasons curtailed by the Covid-19 pandemic and was set to help the Northern Premier League side embark on their first season as a full-time professional club.
However, after completing a master’s degree in finance management, he will now return to his native Netherlands to take the next step in career in finance and play local football.
Mariners manager Graham Fenton praised the 25-year-old for his attitude during his time with the club and assured supporters that he was already looking for a replacement for the centre-back.
He said: “The mutual decision to part ways with Wouter was a difficult one because he has been such a pleasure to work with.
“We had a chat with him a couple of weeks ago to discuss his place in the squad and after that, Wouter had a think about what he wanted to do and decided he wasn’t prepared to be a squad player this season, which we fully respect.
“He has decided he would like to go back to the Netherlands to pursue his career in finance alongside playing local football there.
“Wouter has been a fantastic person to be around during his time with us and we wish him all the best, not only in his football but in his career, which we know he will be successful in due to the character he has.
“We hope it will not be too long until we find a direct replacement for Wouter within the squad and will keep supporters informed.”
South Shields are back in action on Saturday when they host Gateshead in their final pre-season friendly before the Northern Premier League campaign gets underway seven days later. For odds on European football and many other sports, check out Doc Sports.