NATHAN Heath has re-signed for Stalybridge Celtic three-and-a-half years after leaving Bower Fold for a North American adventure.
The 23-year-old left-back spent the last season playing for Canadian club Thunder Bay Chill in USL 2, the fourth tier of the American footballing pyramid.
That followed the completion of his studies at Campbellsville University, Louisville, Kentucky, where he gained a degree in sports management. During this time, he also appeared for fourth-tier New Orleans Jesters who play in the National Premier Soccer League in the summers of 2016 and 17 and he also captained the side.
Heath, who works in recruitment in Manchester, was training at National League North club Southport on his return when Celtic were alerted as to his availability.
Celtic manager Simon Haworth explained: “I was on the phone to Liam Watson (Southport manager and ex-Celtic) about a loan for Dan Cockerline when Nathan’s name was mentioned.
“He was training with Southport, but he was having difficulty combining it with his job. We fitted into his schedule which is why he came to us.”
Heath, who made 26 appearances for Celtic in 2014-15 when Keith Briggs and Watson were in charge, is happy to be back.
But he believes he has returned a better player for the experiences of playing overseas.
Heath explained: “Thunder Bay Chill, which is in Ontario, played in USL2 which is down from MLS (Major League Soccer), USL (United States League) Championship and USL 1.
“Our team was mainly made up of the best college players, plus a few others, and I would say it was similar to Evo-Stik League, premier division.
“The football was of a good standard, very technical and players were very athletic. A number of my team mates were drafted by MLS side Minnesota United
“The main difference was games were all played on 3G pitches.
“And the season was only short spanning four months from May to August.”
Heath, who was raised in Bolton, was an academy player at Bury between the ages of nine and 16.
That was followed by two years as a scholar at Cambridge United where he made three first-team appearances in pre-season friendlies, one of which was against West Ham.
He was also a member of Cambridge’s squad that won the FA Trophy in 2014, though he didn’t feature at Wembley in the matchday 16.