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Ebbsfleet United midfielder Dean Rance on their promotion to the National League

By Steve Tervet

Dean Rance had the chance to leave Ebbsfleet last summer – but his loyalty was vindicated by the events of last Saturday.

The 25-year-old midfielder was a man in demand following Fleet’s play-off defeat to Maidstone last year and he was spoken to by another Kent club in the National League.

Rance was never tempted to walk away, though, signing up for a fourth season at the club he joined from Dover in 2013.

Dean Rance has spent the last four seasons at Ebbsfleet Picture Andy Payton

Dean Rance has spent the last four seasons at Ebbsfleet Picture: Andy Payton

The only player to have served Ebbsfleet continuously under their new owners, Rance has been a key man under three different managers and racked up 168 appearances along the way.

Released by Gillingham in 2012, his aim has always been to get back to the Football League – something he felt he could do with Ebbsfleet.

And that dream is now a step closer to reality after Rance helped Fleet secure promotion to the National League.

On the interest last summer he said: "They spoke to me but it was just a quick thought. Do I want to play at that level? Yes I do. Did I think we were going to do it this season? Yes I did – and that decided it for me.

"I knew what we could do this season and it shows because we got 96 points. We had a good season.

"I want to push on, I want to get into the League and I want to do that with this club. We can do it and that’s why I stayed.

"I knew that once we get to the next level, we can push on. We won’t be happy sitting in the National League, we want to go further again and start hitting the League. That’s the next step and we can do that.

A dejected Dean Rance after the 2016 play-off defeat to Maidstone Picture Andy Payton

A dejected Dean Rance after the 2016 play-off defeat to Maidstone Picture: Andy Payton

"I love my football here. I come in and enjoy it every day, it’s run like a professional club.

"The gaffer’s been excellent – Gritty, Juppy, Lew, Jamie, everyone. They make it an enjoyable place to come and you can tell, the way we’re playing, everyone’s enjoying it.

"It’s easy to come back from last year. It would have been hard to do what we’ve done this year but this is a special group and I’m proud to be part of it and finally get the promotion we deserve.

"I’m looking forward to next season already. There’s no reason why we can’t go in there and give it a good go.

"We’ve got a strong group and we know what we’re capable of.

"This is one step to where the club wants to go. There’s a lot more to come."

Read the full interview in the Gravesend Messenger as part of our nine pages of Ebbsfleet promotion coverage.

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