Norwich City FA Youth Cup winner Cameron King re-joins Thetford Town following on from King's Lynn Town release
Cameron King was on the books of professional outfit King's Lynn Town last season – but the player who won the FA Youth Cup with Norwich City will be back in the Thurlow Nunn League at Thetford Town in 2022/23.
The signing is a major coup for the Becklanders with player-manager Matt Morton having won a race for his signature amid higher-league interest. The move will see the 26-year-old drop four divisions 'for love not money'.
Bury St Edmunds-born King starred for hometown club Thetford in the Step 5 Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division following his release from the Canaries in June 2016, a decision made due to having suffered from migraines while playing.
The 2016/17 season saw him quickly sort those issues out as he scored 16 goals from a largely wide attacking midfield role as the south Norfolk outfit finished seventh.
The Scotland Under-18s-capped midfielder, who grew up in East Harling and made one senior appearance for Norwich City, went on to return to Norfolk in January 2018, signing for Ian Culverhouse's King's Lynn Town, then in the Southern League.
King was snapped up by then Conference (now National League) outfit Halifax ahead of the 2018/19 campaign and transferred back to The Linnets in August, 2020.
Across both clubs he made almost 100 appearances in non-League's top tier.
His release from King's Lynn was confirmed after not making an appearance in 2021/22 at the end of last month following what was said to be a health scare earlier in the campaign that had left him short of breath and with heart palpitations.
With the subsequent medical tests providing no worrying results, Morton revealed he tried to sign him on loan for last term's run-in.
"We have been working on it a while to be fair," he said.
"The reality is it was probably more realistic in the last few weeks than it's ever been.
"My first season as a player at Thetford was when Cam was last here. And ever since he left various people at the club have been hoping, praying, dreaming maybe that one day he will come back due to the impact he had here.
"It was probably always thought to be something that would happen when he was on his way back down out of the professional game in his 30s.
"But he had a health issue last year which was just a scare really more than a problem. But because of that scare he wasn't allowed to play for a period of time and he was under contract at King's Lynn.
He is coming to Thetford for love not money....I think we've got the best version of Cam King and that we've now got the best player in the whole league which is an incredible felling as a manager - Matt Morton, Theford Town player-boss
"When that health scare was then given the all-clear to play we noticed he still wasn't playing and it was the final third of the season by that point.
"We contacted King's Lynn and tried to do a deal to get him on loan but the clubs couldn't reach an agreement.
"When it came out (earlier) in the summer that his contract wasn't being renewed we obviously then got in touch.
"He didn't really want to talk or think about football for a couple of weeks because he had made some decisions that we didn't know about then that we now do.
"He has come to a conclusion he is in his mid-20s now and he hadn't played for a lot of last season so he wants to have some security by getting a job and a career for himself.
"Therefore his football would probably have to suffer as he wouldn't be able to stay in the pro game to do that.
"The decision was then do I drop down one or two levels or go where my heart is? And we're very lucky because his heart is at Thetford."
Morton also revealed in the meantime a couple of high profile signings that would not have allowed King's subsequent decision to return to actually happen fell through.
"I'm a great believer that everything happens for a reason," he said. "And while it was a blow missing out on the signings at the time, due to not being able to compete on budgets with other clubs, I wouldn't have been able to have the conversation with Cam King if I had made one of them.
"The stars have almost aligned and I now genuinely think that because he is coming to Thetford for love not money, because of the stage of his career he is at, I think we've got the best version of Cam King and that we've now got the best player in the whole league which is an incredible feeling as a manager.
"The other thing for me is it is really the cherry on the cake as you only have to look at how we finished last season – this is a very, very good Thetford Town team with lots of good players and some of those very experienced.
"Adding Cam King is just a huge bonus but we are not a one-player team or one-trick pony, he will be the best player in that team but he will be surrounded by lots of other very good players for this level. It is exciting."
He also confirmed his latest addition is not set to have any availability issues with his new job.
Talented youngsters make switch to The Linnets
In a strange parrellel, Bernardo Felgueiras and Joao Varela have both left Thetford to join King's Lynn's academy set-up.
"They are great kids and are hugely talented," said Morton.
"They have been great for us during their development over the last few years, hopefully we've been great for them as well. They've earnt a move to King's Lynn and hopefully we can see them over time break into the first team there.
"They have a great attitude and ethic, they never missed games for us and have been travelling from King's Lynn where they live to Thetford by public transport most of the time.
"They really want to make it as professional footballers and I'm not going to stand in anyone's way when it comes to achieving that dream, so wish them all the best.
"If they did ever want to return to Thetford Town one day the door will always be open to those two for sure."
Morton revealed goalkeeper Tom Smith, from UEA, who includes Godmanchester Rovers and Huntingdon among his former clubs, has agreed to sign for the club while Frank Gammon back training following sustaining an ACL knee injury last year. Both are set to compete with Macauley Rodgers for the first-team number one jersey.
Striker or winger Chukwuka Eseka (known as TJ) has also joined following a spell at UEA but is also working his way back from an ACL injury.
Thetford, who finished 14th out of the 20 teams in the Premier Division last term, have their first pre-season friendly fixture on Thursday when they play Downham Town at the FDC in Bowthorpe, near Norwich. King is not expected to be involved in the opening game.