‘Enjoyed my time’ - Goalkeeper makes Bristol Rovers admission after non-league transfer

Two former players and a two-time caretaker manager at Bristol Rovers have been reunited in the National League.
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Former Bristol Rovers goalkeeper Jordi van Stappershoef has made a return to English football with Aldershot Town.

Stappershoef has been on trial with the Shots since the start of pre-season, and now their manager Tommy Widdrington has opted to sign him, having initially brought him to England four years ago.

He is the second former Rovers player this summer to join the National League outfit, with Cian Harries also signing with them. Stappershoef has been back in his native Netherlands for the last few years, having been on the books at AZ Alkmaar’s reserve team, before signing for AFC Amsterdam, who play in the third tier of Dutch football.

"I’m very delighted to get the deal over the line," said Stappershoef in an interview with Aldershot Town’s YouTube channel. I’ve seen great quality from the lads in the last week, hopefully, we’ll have a good pre-season and start the league well.

"I gained some experience at Rovers, I went through ups and downs with the club. I really enjoyed my time there, I’m now 27, and I think it’s a good age for me to play in the National League.

"Back in 2019 when I played for Bristol Rovers, I was already introduced to the league through cup games, and I adapt really quickly.”

When asked why he returned to England, he said: "The atmosphere, I really missed the fans in the stadiums and playing on those lovely pitches.

Van Stappershoef came to Bristol in 2019, having joined on a free transfer from Dutch outfit Jong Volendam, and made 26 appearances across two seasons at the Memorial Stadium. Graham Coughlan was manager of the club at the time of his arrival, and Widdrington played a role in his coming, having watched him a few times before deciding to sign him.

Widdrington left his post as manager of King’s Lynn towards the end of last season, sacrificing a potential promotion from the National League North, to keep Aldershot in the fifth tier. He has since signed Theo Widdrington who was on the books of Rovers, and more reunions could take place.