Marc Abbott has conceded the lure of returning to his hometown club Haverhill Rovers was too strong to turn down.
After making more than 250 appearances for Rovers during a nine-year spell, Abbott moved to their near-neighbours in the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division, in Saffron Walden Town, in the summer of 2015.
The midfielder has featured regularly as captain for the Essex outfit since then, including 18 outings this season.
However, as part of a reshuffle by Rovers manager Ben Cowling, 30-year-old Abbott has agreed to move back to The New Croft, where he will combine playing duties with a role as the first-team coach.
“Haverhill is a really good local club and I am a local lad — it just fits,” he said.
“The facilities there are fantastic, up there with the likes of (Ryman League Premier Division) AFC Sudbury.
“I have not got a bad word to say about Walden. Moving there helped reignite my passion for football and they accepted me straight away.
“But the offer to play for a good Haverhill side that Ben (Cowling) is building, plus taking on some extra responsibility on the coaching side of things, was one I could not turn down.”
Abbott, who continued to run training sessions with youngsters at Rovers on Saturday mornings after his departure across the county border, has returned to a side brimming with talented, yet inexperienced players.
By manager Cowling’s own admission when previously speaking to The Echo, naivety has been an issue during certain matches this term.
But Abbott, with more than a decade of experience at step five on the non-league pyramid behind him, is confident he can add some much needed know-how to the ranks — both as a player and a coach.
“My first aim is primarily to keep myself fit and play as many games as I can. I want to keep playing for a few more years yet,” he added.
“We have players like Marcus Hunt in the squad, but there are a lot of youngsters as well and hopefully I can help to guide them through.
“I know the league well, as well as a lot of the players, and how some teams like to play tactically.
“It will be a case of juggling, but I am confident I can do it well.
“When I am playing, my focus will be on that, but then there will be times when perhaps Ben wants me to use my experience during training sessions.”
Rovers fans will have to wait a little while for Abbott’s second debut, though.
He was cup-tied for last night’s League Challenge Cup encounter at Walsham-le-Willows, while a pre-planned holiday means he will also be unavailable for the Boxing Day home encounter against former club Walden (11am).
Haverhill, who are expecting a bumper crowd at The New Croft, head into the festive fixture on a run of three matches without a victory — form that has seen them drop to 13th in the table.
As for the absent Abbott, he is likely to pull on the red shirt again when Rovers travel to bottom side FC Clacton on Monday, January 2 (3pm).