FOOTBALL: Yan's living the dream
CHIPPENHAM’S Yan Klukowski is delighted that years of hard work – both on these shores and across the pond – have culminated in him realising his dream of breaking in to the Football League.
Klukowski, 27, who grew up in the town, brought a successful four-year spell with Conference Premier Forest Green Rovers to an end as he signed a two-year deal at League Two Newport County last month.
Goalscoring midfielder Klukowski, who played for clubs in America before trialling with League sides in this country, admits he can’t afford to rest on his laurels ahead of the most important pre-season of his career.
But he is still on cloud nine after signing for Newport, then flying to Antigua to marry sweetheart Sian within a matter of days.
“It was the best two weeks of my life – I signed for Newport, flew off to get married four or five days later and then had my honeymoon,” he said.
“I’ve always wanted to make it to the Football League and it’s something that I’ve been trying to do since I got back from the US.
“I’ve had four great years at Forest Green and they offered me a really good deal to stay towards the end of the season but it was something that I always wanted to do and at 27, I thought it might be my last chance.
“My agent worked really hard and there were three or four clubs that were interested but when I spoke to the Newport manager (former Tottenham Hotspur defender Justin Edinburgh) and heard his plans and where he’d like to play me, I was really impressed.
“I’m going in to a settled dressing room, full of players that have won promotions recently. It’s a club on the up and it’s also close enough that I can stay living in Chippenham.
The former Sheldon School pupil, who played for Wiltshire U18s and the England Schoolboys, started his career at Bath City before featuring for Ottawa Fury and Cape Cod Crusaders while on a scholarship at Central Connecticut State University.
Klukowski went full-time with the Western Mass Pioneers before returning to sign for Forest Green in 2010.
He is Rovers’ all-time leading goalscorer in the Conference with 49 goals and previously had trials with the likes of Swindon Town and Carlisle United.
Klukowski, who also had two brief stints with Chippenham Town, said: “It would be nice to prove a few people wrong.
“Maybe if I scored against some of the clubs that said ‘no’ to me, I culd do a little muted celebration. That would be nice.”
FOR MORE SPORTS NEWS, REPORTS & PICTURES SEE THURSDAY'S GAZETTE & HERALD AND FOLLOW US ON TWITTER @gazsport