‘He needs someone to love him, to believe in him’ – Gosport boss Shaun Gale on Borough’s last-minute FA Cup goal hero Nick Dembele
He once had a trial with Torquay United, scoring in a friendly against Poole Town before suffering a fractured ankle.
Last season was spent playing for Lewes and Kent-based Hythe Town before linking up with National League South club Hungerford in pre-season for one friendly.
But for Nick Dembele, that friendly started a chain of events which led to him scoring one of the most dramatic cup winners in Gosport Borough’s modern day cup history.
Dembele, 24, smacked in a glorious 20-yarder that gave Boro a 2-1 win over Plymouth Parkway on Saturday and a place in the second qualifying round of the FA Cup.
He was fully aware time was running out - a board signifying three added minutes was held up within seconds of the game restarting following his goal.
‘I kept on asking the ref ‘how long left? How long left?’ said Dembele, whose goal will almost certainly lead to cult hero status among the Privett Park faithful.
‘I knew that time was basically up - that’s why I had a go.
‘It was nice to score the winner. I love scoring goals - that’s what’s going to get me back up (the pyramid).’
Boro boss Shaun Gale admitted Dembele might not have been on the pitch had he possessed extra striking options on his bench.
Dembele, who has also played for Cambridge City and Lingfield in the Southern Combination League, was snapped up by Gale after appearing against Boro for Hungerford in a friendly.
‘He needs someone to love him, someone to believe in him,’ explained the manager, who has given the player a year’s contract.
‘He was quite frustrating (against Parkway) - it wasn’t one of his better games, his touch wasn’t great, he gave the ball away cheaply, and if I’d had extra options on the bench he might have been substituted.
‘But what he can give you is what he did - a moment of magic out of the blue.
‘It was an absolute worldie and if it had been in the Premier League they’d be talking about it for ages. It was a wonder goal.’
Based in south London, Dembele is currently training with Crawley - Gale’s former Hawks managerial colleague Lee Bradbury is No 2 at the Sussex club.
‘They (Crawley) quite like him but he’s not up to League 2 yet. But the extra training with pros will do him good,’ said Gale.
‘He wants to get back up (the pyramid) and he’s got the talent.’