George Elokobi has declared Lucas Covolan the best goalkeeper in National League South after the Brazilian decided to stay at Maidstone.
Covolan, man-of-the-match in the Stones’ FA Cup fourth-round victory at Ipswich, was out of contract at the end of January having joined on a short-term deal last summer.
There was plenty of interest in the 32-year-old, who retains ambitions to play higher, but the former Port Vale goalie revealed on Friday he would be staying until the end of the season.
It’s a major boost to both Maidstone’s promotion chances and their hopes of pulling off another FA Cup upset in round five.
“Lucas is a great goalkeeper,” said Stones boss Elokobi, whose side host Torquay at the Gallagher tonight.
“He’s the best goalkeeper in this league and of course he’s going to have suitors.
“But the most important thing in football, it’s about looking at your environment, looking at the people you work with.
“Are you enjoying the environment? Are you having a good time out here?
“I think he’s had a terrific first half of the season and a fantastic FA Cup run.
“He deserves every accolade he’s getting.
“He’s been ever-present, he’s a fantastic leader behind the scenes and on the pitch, making brilliant, big saves, so he’s got all the attributes to attract interest from elsewhere.
“We aren’t foolish, I know that as a manager, but it’s my job and the club’s responsibility to try to tempt him to stay with us and I’m delighted he’s chosen us.
“That shows we’re doing something right at Maidstone United Football Club to get his signature and extend his stay with us to the end of the season and we’ll go again from there.
“I don’t know how high he could have gone. If I was an agent, I would tell you.
“I haven’t got a clue but players have got representatives.
“Lucas looked me in the eye and said, ‘This is the place for me, I’m enjoying my football, I’m enjoying the environment, Maidstone, the community has treated me well’.
“That’s all we ask when players come to our environment.”
Maidstone have already beaten Torquay twice at Plainmoor this season, recording 1-0 and 2-0 victories in league and FA Cup meetings respectively.
The Gulls, pre-season title favourites alongside Yeovil, lost 4-0 at home to St Albans on Saturday and arrive at the Gallagher in ninth place, two points outside the play-offs.
Maidstone, 2-1 winners over the Glovers at the weekend, are fourth.