Eastbourne Town boss Danny Bloor said his club pulled-off a ‘major coup’ after signing former Eastbourne Borough captain Ben Austin.
Austin, 35, agreed to join the Ryman League Division One South outfit following discussions with Bloor and his assistant manager Danny Simmonds.
Town were able to negotiate a deal with Austin and fight of stiff competition from Horsham who are managed by Austin’s former coach Simon Colbran.
Bloor said, “We are delighted Ben has agreed to join us. I have been a huge admirer of his over the years and I believe he will bring a great deal to the club.
“He has been tremendous for Eastbourne Borough and enjoyed a lot of success with them and hopefully that can rub off on a few of the lads here.
“He will be a great influence in the dressing room and I’m sure the younger lads will learn a great deal from him.
“He is a high profile signing for us and I believe it shows our intent for the season. With Ben on board and if we can stay injury free, I’m sure we can push-on and improve on last season.”
Austin made 467 appearances for Borough and was a key member of the Garry Wilson and Nick Greenwood era team which progressed through the divisions from County League all the way to the Blue Square Premier.
He scored 20 goals for the Sports and was voted player of the year on four occasions after signing from Eastbourne Town in 1999.
He admitted it was a tough decision to leave Priory Lane but felt at 35-years-of-age the time was right to return to his former club.
Austin said, “I spoke with Tommy (Widdrington) and Alan (Kimble) and the chance was there to stay for another season.
“But at my age I had to decide if I could meet the demands and commitment they require at that level. I didn’t want to hang around and pick up the money if I was not able to give it 100 per cent.
“If I was five or eight years younger then I would be on-board with what they expect but I have to be realistic.
“I have achieved what I could at Eastbourne Borough and I will look back on my time at the club with pride.”
Borough boss Widdrington said, “I’ve been speaking with Ben since the end of last season. He was thinking about hanging his boots up for good but I told him to hold his horses.
“Those decisions aren’t ones to be taken lightly. He has things going on in his life that take precedent over football and we have to respect that.
“Ben spoke to his partner and considered the other aspects of his life besides football and decided he couldn’t carry on with what we were offering him here.
“At one stage we were thinking about roles for him off the field just in case coaching was something he did want to go in to.
“Obviously everyone at the club here would like to thank him for his exceptional services to the club and wish him the best with wherever he goes from here.”