Hastings United manager Chris Agutter praised Davide Rodari as ‘a great role model’ to everyone at the football club after the young forward scored on his return from a major injury.
Rodari was Hastings’ leading scorer last season, but underwent surgery in the summer on a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament.
All the hard rehabilitation work was rewarded with the opening goal in Hastings’ 2-0 win away to VCD Athletic on Saturday - just 14 minutes after coming on as a substitute.
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Agutter said: “Unbelievable, you couldn’t write it really. Only sport seems to throw up those sort of stories.
“He deserves it. He works so hard and he’s such a great role model to everyone at the club. Originally it was said he was going to be out for 15 months so for him to be back playing and scoring an important goal after seven months is remarkable.
“From a human side of it, he’s had a really difficult time. He was on the verge of signing for Millwall when he got injured and that all fell through as a result. For him to make the comeback he has, irrelevant really of Hastings United and winning the game, I’m really pleased for him.
“I was very happy for him, as were all the lads. Davide’s a good person and everyone’s seen what he’s been through.
“When he came on I thought he was the best player on the pitch. He was excellent and he’s a different type of forward to what we’ve got. He’s more of a traditional, old-fashioned sort of forward and it was an instinctive finish which Davide is capable of.”
Rodari and fellow forwards Daniel Ajakaiye and Jordy Mongoy were all on the pitch together in the latter part of the match, and all three were involved in the second goal.
“We finished the game with three up-front and it was a forward line that had a bit of everything,” added Agutter. “They complimented each other brilliantly.
“I think it is possible to play all three of them. Some of our attacking play in the last 15, 20 minutes was excellent, some of the best we’ve seen. And if any of them get a chance, they will take it.”
Bostik League South East Division top half (played-points): 1 Cray Wanderers 28-71 (+41 goal difference), 2 Horsham 29-55 (+20), 3 Ashford United 28-54 (+31), 4 HASTINGS UNITED 29-53 (+22), 5 Haywards Heath Town 28-52 (+17), 6 Hythe Town 29-43 (+7), 7 Whyteleafe 28-41 (+10), 8 VCD Athletic 27-41 (+1), 9 Ramsgate 29-36 (+2), 10 Phoenix Sports 28-36 (-4).