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Former Man Utd keeper starring up front for Spalding Sunday League outfit

A former professional goalkeeper is hoping to kick-off a new career as an outfield player after honing his skills in the Spalding Sunday League.

Luke Steele has been playing this season for long-established Spalding side Jubilee after a lengthy professional career.

The 36-year-old started out as a youngster with Peterborough United before his exploits earned him a £500,000 transfer to Manchester United.

Luke Steele in action for Coventry.
Luke Steele in action for Coventry.

He spent four seasons at Old Trafford – which also included a loan stint at Coventry City – before joining West Brom.

Spells then followed at Barnsley, Panathinaikos, Bristol City and Nottingham Forest before he ended last season on loan at Millwall.

The former England Youth, Under 19 and 20 international left the Championship club at the end of last season.

Luke Steele was named on the bench as an outfield player for Stamford.
Luke Steele was named on the bench as an outfield player for Stamford.

And, after a chance conversation with his electrician, he has rediscovered his passion for the game as an outfield player.

Steele - on the Undr The Cosh Podcast - explained: “I didn’t put my gloves on for three months after my last game for Millwall.

“I’m at that stage in my professional career where I have had so much of it from the age of eight and nine, living and breathing it, that I’ve exhausted myself out with the goalkeeping at the moment.

“My electrician was around my house doing some work and just caught me in a good mood when he asked if I fancied a game on a Sunday. He was obviously doing some good work for me so I just yes.

“The next thing is I’ve signed online and made it clear that I wasn’t prepared to play in goal.

“They gave me the number nine shirt and I’m absolutely addicted to it.

“I’ve been playing up front, just behind the striker, and although I was stiff as a board after the first game I really enjoyed it.

“I couldn’t believe how hard it was – and couldn’t get used to facing the wrong way on the pitch.

“It was so difficult and made me apologise for screaming at all the strikers I have played with during my professional career. Playing up front is the hardest position on the pitch.

“But I managed to score in my second game and I’ve got nine goals in five matches which makes me the third highest goalscorer in the division.

“Six of the nine goals have been headers and I’m giving absolutely everything when I’m out on the pitch.

“I’m not getting into people, but I’m giving 100 per cent and I’ve started looking at the league table so I’m fully addicted.

“I’m not addicted to goalkeeping at the moment, but I’m still feeling the love for football by playing Sunday League. I pay my £5 subs and it’s class to be part of grassroots football even if it’s blown my mind on how difficult it is as an outfield player.”

Steele has played five matches in the Spalding Sunday League this season, scoring nine goals, and also hit a hat-trick in an appearance for Peterborough Northern Star Reserves in Division One of the Peterborough League.

The former Arthur Mellows Village College pupil – who is the co-founder of the Peterborough-based Youth Dreams Project with former Spalding United midfielder Luke Kennedy – also signed for Northern Premier League South East Division side Stamford last month.

He made his Daniels debut as a goalkeeper as an emergency cover in their FA Trophy victory over Kidderminster Harriers before injury forced him to be substituted in the second half.

Steele was named as an outfield player for the Daniels last week in their Trophy tie with Hereford and is hoping to make an impression at the Zeeco Stadium with the current suspension of the league season aiding his recovery from injury.

He added: “It was nice to make the Stamford squad for the FA Trophy tie last week as a striker although I’m still coming back from injury.

“We are not sure where or when the next game will be, but it does give me time to get super fit now.

“I have already decided that coaching isn’t for me. I enjoy taking part in the training but coaching, even goalkeepers, is something that I have never wanted to do.”

Frrom Anfield to Monkshouse Lane

Luke Steele produced a man-of-the-match performance at Anfield to help Barnsley cause a huge FA Cup upset in 2008.

He has graced Old Trafford, the City Ground and played in the Greek Super League for Panathinaikos.

But it was at Monks House Lane in Spalding where the goalkeeper-turned-goalscorer started to find his shooting booots.

He made his Jubilee debut in the 4-1 Spalding Sunday League success over CSKA Emneth Reserves and then netted his first goal in the 6-5 away win against Kirton Town Sunday at Graves Park.

Steele was on target again the following week despite Jubilee falling to a 6-1 home reversal against CSKA Emneth in the John Chappell Shield.

He followed that with a brace in the 4-1 home league win over Fosdyke Sunday before hitting five goals in the final match before the second national lockdown when Jubilee ran riot in a 17-1 success against Pinchbeck United Sports.

Steele and his team-mates still remain unbeaten in the league this season after four successive victories and sit in second spot behind CSKA Emneth with the season currently suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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