Seven-year itch is over for Inverness Caley Thistle striker
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SHANE Sutherland admits he could easily have ditched the dream years ago.
Most players dumped by bigger clubs give up on full-time ambitions within a year or two in the lower leagues.
The fact the 29-year-old Caithnessian will pull on a Caley Thistle shirt again next season after seven long years in the part-time wilderness is testament to a drive and desire that never left him.
Released after three years and 86 games under Terry Butcher was a blow, but he immediately refocused on working towards a return.
As the years rolled by though, with 80 goals in 175 starts for Elgin City and Peterhead, it looked like the chance had gone.
Then, in January 2019, a bizarre twist saw him sign for Peterhead only to learn Caley Thistle’s John Robertson had been keen to take him back.
Sutherland initially sank into a pit of despair at the missed chance, but picked himself up with a 26-goal season for Elgin to win the much-craved move
12 months on.
Excitement after that latest remarkable twist is evident.
“It has been seven years, but I’ve always strived to get back to full-time level,” Sutherland said. “When the pre-contract offer came in January, I didn’t think twice. I jumped at it even before a great chat with John Robertson.
“A lot of people after seven years might have resigned themselves to looking for a good career outside football, but ever since I left Inverness, I knew I’d never give up on it.
“I enjoyed full-time football that much.
“Even if I’d found bigger and better things outside the game, I’d have given it up for this.”
Sutherland’s last match was in March and Championship kick-off is in October, but he added: “I’m sure if I work hard and take my chances in the team, the fans will appreciate it.
“I’m not going back there to prove a point. I’m a different player now, 29 years old, with more knowledge and experience. I’m just excited to get started.”
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