Spalding United

A footballer who ended up at non-league Spalding United to try to reignite his love for the game after a mental health breakdown has set up a fundraiser to help pay for a potentially career-saving knee operation.

Marcus Maddison, 28, made his name in League One with Peterborough United, playing more than 200 times for Posh over a six-year period before unsuccessful spells at Hull City, Charlton Athletic and Bolton Wanderers.

He admitted he’d fallen out of love with football during the latter stages of his time at Peterborough, and in a bid to try to enjoy the game again, he signed for Lincolnshire part-timers Spalding United in the Northern Premier League South/East division in June 2021.

Maddison has always been very outspoken, often controversial at times, but he has also been extremely candid about his mental health struggles, saying depression “engulfed” his life and forced him to take a step back from his career.

The Durham-born midfielder is now plotting a return to the English Football League after more than a year away from the professional game, but there’s still one hurdle he needs to overcome.

He suffered a tear in his knee meniscus while playing for Spalding, and according to Marcus himself, without the operation he may not be able to even run again, let alone play football.

Maddison has set up a fundraiser to help pay for an operation on his knee that could potentially save his football career. Marcus is aiming for £3,000 and currently has £2,630 at the time of publication (donate here).

In the fundraiser, Marcus says: “I’m now ready to do what I do best and love the most: playing football! However, I have an obstacle standing in my way. I have a tear in my meniscus, which is massively holding me back, I have had a medical assessment already, and I need an operation.

“This, however, doesn’t come without a price and a cost that is out of my reach due to suffering from depression and being unable to work for the past year.

“Your support already through those times has been greatly appreciated, and there is no way I could ever thank you enough!

“Although I am here asking if there is any way you can find it in yourself to help me with my journey to getting back to the pitch. This will give me the operation/aftercare and support I need to get back to doing what I love.

“I know this isn’t your usual thing to see on here. However, I don’t know where else to turn. Thank you for your care and support always.”

Spalding United have appointed former Wisbech Town boss Brett Whaley as their new manager just hours after he left his previous role.

Whaley had spent the past two years in charge at fellow Northern Premier League Midlands Division side Wisbech Town, but left his post to come to Lincolnshire outfit Spalding United.

And he has already taken his first training session at the club, just two hours after he was announced as the new Spalding manager on Thursday.

Whaley replaces former Congolese defender Gabriel Zakuani, who stepped down as Tulips manager last month after just over a year in charge due to increased business and media commitments.

Gabriel Zakuani has stepped down from his role as manager of Spalding United. | Photo: Spalding United

Brett joins the current first team management team and will work closely with assistant manager Bruno Porfirio and the rest of the current coaching staff.

Spalding currently sit in 12th place in the league after 20 games, six places higher than Wisbech Town, and hopes are high for the Brett Whaley era at The Tulips.

Spalding CEO Leigh Porter said: “Brett brings years of experience of local football to the existing management team and that was something we were very keen to add, after speaking to a number of people in the last few weeks it was clear Brett shares our ambition, work ethic and goals”

Brett added: “When the opportunity came to be involved with the project at Spalding it was too good to turn down, after meeting club officials it’s clear we share the same goals, I am aware how ambitious the club is and look forward to helping them achieve their goals.

“I would like to thank everyone at Wisbech Town for all their help and support over the last two years and wish them all the very best for the future”

Whaley will be in the dugout for the home match against Carlton Town on Monday, December 27.

Former Congolese footballer Gabriel Zakuani has stepped down from this role as manager of Spalding United.

The ex-defender was appointed as joint caretaker manager of the Tulips in October 2020 alongside Neal Spafford in what was his first football managerial role. He was later given the job on a permanent basis with Spafford as his assistant and former Premier League striker Lomana Lualua brought in as his attacking coach.

Zakuani, whose signings as Spalding boss included Nile Ranger and Marcus Maddison, has resigned due to his increased business and media commitments. Assistant manager Bruno Porfirio will take charge of the squad for Saturday’s fixture against Coleshill Town.

Spalding United, who play in the Norther Premier League – Division One Midlands, issued a statement saying: “First team manager Gabriel Zakuani has today stepped down from his role due to his increased business and media commitments.

“Everyone associated with Spalding United Football Club would like to thank Gaby for his commitment to the club and we look forward to continue our working relationship with him in a different role moving forward.”

Zakuani said: “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time as manager but in recent weeks it’s become more of a challenge with my commute and my other commitments I have outside of the club.

“After a good and honest conversation with the owners we agreed this was the right thing and right time to do this for both of us, the ongoing development of the club is the main priority.

“I still want to play a part in that and I’m looking forward to attending a game very soon but this time watching from the stands rather than the dugout. The squad we’ve built is great, I cant wait to see them kick on and they are in safe hands with Bruno and the team.”

Spalding United’s CEO Leigh Porter added: “Gaby is a part of the club and always will be, he knows what we all think of him, this is right for him and the club and we look forward to helping Gaby develop.

“Our focus as a club is now on Saturday and continuing to work towards the goals and objectives we set ourselves at the start of the season.”

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