Defender Nathan Buddle, who was one of the heroes in Blyth Spartans’ memorable FA Cup run, has said he is over the moon after signing for Carlisle United.
The centre-back, from Amble, made the switch to Cumbria last week and the deal runs until the end of the season, with a club option to extend it for a further 12 months.
The 21-year-old joined the League Two side after impressing during an extended trial spell, which included pitch time in a recent friendly against Newcastle United.
It marks a welcome return to professional football for Buddle, who had been playing for Blyth since being released by Hartlepool United in 2013.
He said: “I’ve waited a long time for this chance. I’ve been at Blyth for a season-and-a-half and I’ve just been trying to work hard and get back into the professional game. I’ve been given my chance here and I’m really excited.
“I said when I got released from Hartlepool, I was going to work hard and make sure it wasn’t the end for me. It’s been a long process but it’s paid off.”
Buddle was part of Blyth’s remarkable FA Cup run earlier this season, which included a Second Round live-on-TV victory over higher-league Hartlepool.
He also played in the Third Round defeat against Championship side Birmingham City, which had seen the Northumbrians take a dream lead, only to lose 3-2.
Buddle believes his exploits in the famous competition helped to put him back in the spotlight.
He said: “I was gutted to come out of professional football, but I knew if I wanted to carry on chasing my dream I had to work hard. That’s why I went to Blyth. We did well last season and I’ve worked hard, and the FA Cup run we had this season helped me get noticed.”
Buddle made 83 appearances for Blyth and scored five goals during his time at Croft Park.
He insists: “I owe Blyth a lot. I went there and they didn’t know a lot about me, because I hadn’t played first-team football. They gave me my chance in man’s football and thankfully I took it with both hands.”
Staying in the north was a big incentive for Amble lad Buddle, but he says another pull was working with Carlisle manager Keith Curle, who won several England caps in the early 1990s.
Buddle said: “The manager is a brilliant person to have in charge and everything he tells me will benefit me.
“The fact he played for England and was a centre-back means I’ve got so much to learn from him. Whatever knowledge he can pass down to me will only be a positive.”
Buddle was named as a substitute in Carlisle’s 2-1 league defeat against Shrewsbury Town on Tuesday night.