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Stuart Lewis on why he decided to leave Dover Athletic

By Cameron Hogwood

Calling time on his Dover Athletic career wasn't a decision Stuart Lewis took lightly.

It was announced shortly after the club's final day win over Sutton that the midfielder would be leaving Crabble having been unable to pledge his services to a full-time routine again.

Contemplating the catalogue of coaching and playing opportunities available to him will now coincide with Lewis enjoying more time with his family.

Dover celebrate Stuart Lewis' goal in their 3-0 win over Sutton. Picture: Alan Langley
Dover celebrate Stuart Lewis' goal in their 3-0 win over Sutton. Picture: Alan Langley

Lewis said: "I've had a great time at Dover. When I went in there we were near the bottom of the league and then to leave there with 60 points and joint 12th is an unbelievable achievement so it was a tough decision. It was something I felt was right for me at this stage in my life and in my career.

"I think for what was required now, I'm a coach at Tottenham's Academy as well, I've got a little boy now and with the travelling I found it quite difficult. I live in Hertfordshire so it's quite a long journey for me.

"Obviously you have to try and get that balance between work, family and general life. I didn't want to commit to something that I knew would be taking too much from me and my family, so that's really how I came to the decision.

"It was a tough one, as I say I've loved my time at Dover. The chairman, manager, coaching staff and players have all been brilliant with me, but sometimes you have to make big calls."

The 31-year-old is likely to be inundated with offers having been a prominent figure throughout Dover's fight for survival since signing from Maidstone in October 2018.

Discussing his options, Lewis added: "I've had a good end to the season and I've worked really hard at Dover to perform how I have.

"It hasn't been easy at times, but as I say I've dug deep. I've had a few phone calls and I've got a few other things in the pipeline with my coaching so I'll have to take my time to weigh up the different options to see what's best for me going forward, whether that's carrying on playing or coaching.

"I haven't really come to a decision yet, I'm sure in the next six weeks things will start to be a bit clearer.

"I love the coaching side of the game, I've been doing it for about three or four years now. It's been great for me to work with Andy Hessenthaler and watch how he goes about his work.

"I love that side, I've done my 'A' licence and all my badges so it's definitely something I'm looking to pursue. At this stage in your career and life those opportunities at Tottenham don't come by too easily really."

Lewis has tipped his former teammates to mould their nine-game unbeaten finish to the campaign into a springboard for progression in 2019/2020, acknowledging the value of Hessenthaler having an entire summer to work with his players.

He said: "Obviously you know what Andy Hessenthaler's pre-season is going to be like. They're going to be fit, raring to go, a squad that's hungry and with the chairman's backing, which Dover are lucky enough to have, they'll be a force to be reckoned with.

"It's a tough place to go, our home form was one of the keys to our success as well. If they can take that into next season they'll be a force."

Read more: Ebbsfleet United will listen to offers for their seven contracted players

Listen to Stuart Lewis on the KM Football Podcast below:

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