09 Jun 2019 by John Edwards

Major coup for Alty as Arnold signs on at The J.Davidson Stadium

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Phil Parkinson has added a wealth of experience, know-how and proven matchwinning ability to his Altrincham squad after pulling off the spectacular signing of former Lincoln City FA Cup hero Nathan Arnold.

The 31-year old winger made national newspaper headlines two years ago after waltzing round keeper Dean Gerken for an ice-cool stoppage-time winner, as Lincoln claimed the third-round scalp of Ipswich Town en route to becoming the first non-League club for over a century to reach the FA Cup quarter-finals.

He was credited by manager Danny Cowley with making 'an outstanding contribution' to Lincoln's astonishing season, when they made it to the last eight of the Cup before succumbing to Arsenal at The Emirates Stadium and won promotion back to the Football League as Vanarama National League champions.

Just two years on from those heady heights, he is looking for a fresh challenge, following a brief break from the game, and Alty boss Parkinson was quick to offer him a route back at The J.Davidson Stadium.

In a recent interview, Arnold (pictured, above, by Michael Ripley signing forms at the ground on Sunday evening) described how six months away from football, since leaving Boston United by mutual consent, has rekindled his enthusiasm for the game and left him determined to recapture his old form.

'The past year has allowed me some much-needed respite and has rejuvenated me, which excites me when I think of what the future might hold,' he said. 'I feel I still have some great years ahead of me, and this feeling, alongside much encouragement from friends and family, has inspired me to make a return to football.

'My aim is to get back to the levels I know I'm capable of and fall in love with football again. Let's get back to work. I'm looking forward to playing again. I'm a professional. I'm a winner, and I've still got that instilled in me. I'm fortunate enough to have scored some iconic goals over the last couple of years, and people will remember me for that. Now I want to do the same again.

'It is the perfect time to resurrect my career. Time away from football has given me the opportunity to recharge, rejuvenate and adopt a new fresh perspective. I'm 31 with a huge amount of experience, knowledge and wisdom, and I'm very grateful  for the lessons life's taught me.

'Behind the athlete is hours and hours of hard work, practice and a CV that I'm very proud of. I have missed being a part of something meaningful that football gives you and I'm glad to be back. The biggest challenge for me now is to find a new home where a  manager believes in me again. Someone who is willing to give me an opportunity.

'I have never been more determined to prove a point than I am right now. It isn't surprising to me that there's question marks surrounding me coming back and, maybe, surrounding  my motivation levels, but this only motivates me even more to get back to the levels I know I'm capable of.

'People have doubted me my whole life. It isn't unfamiliar territory. It takes courage for a manager to believe in a player that has been there and done it. I'm not desperate for just any club, it has to be something that inspires me and challenges me. I want the  right fit.'

Alty under Parkinson and Neil Sorvel clearly is the right fit for the talented attacker, who played his best football under Danny and Nicky Cowley at Sincil Bank and sees similarities to them in the managerial duo he is about to work with.

He left Lincoln with a ringing endorsement from Danny Cowley, who reflected on the livewire winger's 13 goals from 65 appearances, including a stunning late winner at Gateshead that all but ensured the Imps' promotion to the Football League as National League champions, and said: 'Nathan made an outstanding contribution in helping Lincoln City get back into the League, and everyone associated with the club will be forever grateful for the role he played. His goals against Ipswich and Gateshead will live in our memories for ever.

'He has been brilliant for us - brilliant as a player and brilliant as a person. He has been a pleasure to have around the place and has been really good to manage. He is a unique individual, and he will be missed by us all.'

Mansfield-born Arnold, who favours the left flank but can also operate as a striker, has been a positive influence at virtually all his eight clubs, including loans.

After joining Grimsby, initially on loan, in July, 2014, he helped them reach the Vanarama National League play-off final after scoring two outstanding goals in a semi-final win over Eastleigh.

Grimsby lost the final on penalties to Bristol Rovers, but only after Arnold ran half the length of the pitch to set up their goal in a 1-1 draw. He was named in the National League team of the year and offered a permanent deal at Blundell Park, where he continued to endear himself to the home fans by playing an integral part in a run to both the play-off and FA Trophy finals.

Grimsby duly ended a six-year absence from the Football League, as Arnold rounded off a 3-1 Wembley win over Forest Green Rovers by scoring the third goal. Another contract offer swiftly followed, but Arnold turned it down in favour of a move to Lincoln that would send his stock soaring to new heights.

The Lincoln adventure ended last June, just 12 months ago, and both Arnold and his new young, up-and-coming managerial pairing are convinced he can reproduce his best in Altrincham colours.

Everyone connected with Altrincham extends a warm welcome to Nathan and wishes him a happy and successful stay at The J.Davidson Stadium.

*Watch out for an interview with Nathan Arnold on the club's website soon.

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