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From goalkeeper to striker: How one positional change altered the career path for Stratford Town's Leroy Lita





WHETHER you believe in it or not, things in life happen for a reason. And for Stratford Town’s Leroy Lita, he might not have had the career he has enjoyed if he didn’t have that one change of heart all those years ago.

Leroy Lita flashes a shot wide of the mark during the victory over Tamworth. Photo: Mark Williamson F5/1/22/2280
Leroy Lita flashes a shot wide of the mark during the victory over Tamworth. Photo: Mark Williamson F5/1/22/2280

It’s fair to say the 37-year-old can look back on his career in a positive light.

Having come through the Chelsea youth ranks, Lita signed for Bristol City in 2002 where he would go on to score 38 goals in 100 appearances in all competitions before he made the £1million move to Reading in 2005.

During his stint at Madejski Stadium, the former England U21 frontman netted 32 times across 100 outings in all competitions, and also played his part in helping the Royals reach the Premier League in 2006.

Lita then made the switch to Middlesbrough and after scoring 20 times in 80 appearances between 2007 and 2009, he started to go around the blocks.

Eventually he dropped into the non-league pyramid and before signing for the Bards he was at fellow Southern Premier Central side Nuneaton Borough.

Still going at the ripe old age of 37, Lita perhaps might not have had the career he has had if he decided to stick with the position he used to play in his younger days.

“I was a goalkeeper when I first started playing football and Tim Flowers – who I have got a lot of respect for – was one of the ones I used to look up to," he said.

“Why I changed from being a goalkeeper to a striker is a bit of a long story, but putting it short I was getting fed up of keep being lobbed all the time.

“So I thought I’d try a different position, went up front and enjoyed it, and I’ve never looked back since.”

On working under Flowers at Stratford, Lita added: “As I said before, he was a goalkeeper I used to look up to and I wanted to come here and work with him.

“I had a phone call from the chairman (Jed McCrory) and thankfully Stratford wanted me here.”

The experience the Stratford Town players will be able to take from Lita is priceless, but the former England U21 frontman stressed the importance of being able to help players improve, regardless of their age.

“I’m always happy to pass on my experience and I feel that’s your duty as a player to do that,” he said.

“Regardless of whether they are young or old, I will always try my best to help players develop and improve.”

Lita had thought about hanging up the boots for good prior to his move to Nuneaton, but feels like there’s still more he can give to the sport which gave him a long and successful career.

“I’m still fit, I love getting out on the pitch and competing against other teams, that’s my passion,” he added.

“As long as my body lets me, and I still have that hunger and determination to do what I do, then I’ll keep playing for as long as I can.”



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