Nathan Ashmore has vowed not to walk out on Gosport Borough to pursue his Australian dream.
The 22-year-old goalkeeper has been a key part in Borough’s superb 22-match unbeaten league run that has propelled them into the Southern League premier division promotion picture.
Ashmore has been offered the opportunity to join Australian outfit Oakleigh Cannons, a Victorian Premier League side based near Melbourne – one level below the Australian professional A League.
But the teaching assistant at South Downs College is under contract at Privett Park and would command a fee if Oakleigh were keen to sign him in time for their new season, which starts later this month.
There were rumours Ashmore would play his last game for the club against Bedford Town this weekend, but he insists he has no plans to walk on his contract with Borough – although he was somewhat vague about how the proposed move came about.
Ashmore explained: ‘I’m contracted to Gosport Borough and I am still a Gosport Borough player so I’m not 100-per-cent sure what is going on but my faith is with them.
‘They (Oakleigh) told me to sort my visa out but I really don’t know what’s going on.
‘Going out to Australia is something I’ve always wanted to do. Quite a few of my friends have gone out there and said it was amazing.
‘It’s not mainly for football but to work and live out there as well. It’s just an option at the moment. It’s been in my mind for ages, though, and it’s come through my cousin.
‘It’s not necessarily something that would even happen this year – maybe in a couple of years. I’m not trying to get away now, of course not.
‘I’ve spoken to Gosport and told them I was thinking about it.
‘They haven’t really said anything. But that’s as far as it’s got. Nothing is set in stone.’
Gosport boss Alex Pike is clearly keen to keep hold of a keeper he believes is the best in the division.
But he did not rule out the prospect of releasing Ashmore in the summer, even though Borough would still be entitled to a compensation fee as he is under the age of 24.
Pike said: ‘I have been informed by Nathan that an approach has been made by an Australian club to take him on a semi-professional basis and Gosport would never stand in anyone’s way who wanted an opportunity to progress.
‘We haven’t sat down with him and had a chat yet but, if we felt it was in his and the club’s best interests, we wouldn’t stand in his way.
‘But in my opinion, he is the best goalkeeper in the league.
‘I’ve sat down and thought about names of goalkeepers who are better than Nathan Ashmore and I haven’t come up with any.
‘Since I have been at the club, I have had two of the best keepers I have ever had in Mark Brown and Nathan.
‘At this stage of the season, I would be devastated to lose him – not just because he’s a good goalkeeper but because I would hate to lose him as a friend.’
But if Ashmore did decide to walk away, Pike insists his club’s promotion hopes would not be finished.
He added: ‘People thought it would derail us when Justin Bennett went away for six weeks and look what happened there.
‘Football is all about doors closing and others opening.
‘But when Justin was away, I knew I could replace a striker.’