Keith Gillespie claimed last night that he is not ready to hang up his boots after being unveiled by new club Longford Town.
The former Northern Ireland international has been without a club since being released by Blue Square Premier side Darlington in December, this after an unsuccessful season at Glentoran, but he maintains that he is fit enough to cope with the strains of the Airtricity First Division.
“I have always maintained that if I felt fit enough and I was in good condition, I would remain playing football for as long as I could,” said the 86 times-capped winger, who signed a deal that will see him through the remainder of this season.
“Once you make the decision to retire, there’s no going back and presently I don’t think the time is right for me to hang up the boots.”
Gillespie also indicated that he was unfazed by the prospect of playing at such a level, despite having graced some of the world’s greatest arenas, as a player with Northern Ireland, and at clubs like Manchester United, Newcastle and Blackburn.
“Obviously there comes a stage when you have to drop down the divisions. So with respect that doesn’t bother me,” he said.
“I did play a season with Glentoran and never found any problem in trying to motivate myself.
“I think as a sportsman you go out with the intention of giving 100 per cent all of the time and that’s irrespective of what level you play at and I’ll certainly be giving it my all for Longford over the course of the season.”
The deal to take Gillespie to Flancare Park was brokered by Longford sponsor Phil Munnelly, and boss Tony Cousins is hoping that the 36 year old’s experience will help the midland club make a push for promotion.
“Keith has a wealth of experience in football and I’ve no doubt that his knowledge of the game with help the younger players in the club,” said Cousins.
Gillespie will make his debut against Athlone Town, at Flancare Park, tomorrow night.