AFC Wimbledon striker Jake Nicholson is in a peaceful state of mind, helped no end by the faith shown in him by boss Neal Ardley.
The 21-year-old has signed a one-year deal at the Cherry Red Records stadium, granting him a summer without the stress and strain of finding a new club.
Despite only turning professional with Tottenham Hotspur in 2010, Nicholson has already lived the nomadic life of a footballer having been loaned to MYPA in Sweden in 2011, and signing for Greenock Morton in Scotland last November.
In that time, the unsettled former U19 England international made just six first team appearances.
Looking to start afresh, Nicholson, pictured, has now settled in Leatherhead with fiancée Rosie and daughter Isabella, and he took up the offer of a trial at Dons.
He said: “I was willing to do anything to get back into English football and when Dons offered me a trial in January, I knew I had to swallow my pride and spend time in the reserves.
“The reserves gaffer [Shaun North] recommended me to Neal, and they organised a game against Oxford so Neal could watch me play.
“Apparently he phoned the chief executive at half-time saying he wanted to sign me until the end of the season.”
He added: “Getting the contract for next season is a huge relief.
“It has been a long year in terms of finding a new club and now it is sorted, I can concentrate on a full pre-season.
“It was also a relief because I now there are dozens and dozens of players out there who have been released by their clubs and are now looking for somewhere new.
“The competition for places is immense, I was there myself last year and it is not a nice place to be.”
Coming and going: Jake Nicholson applauds the Dons fans after the final home game of the season, and he will be back, while Luke Moore does likewise, before being released
Nicholson made a goal-scoring debut in a 4-3 win over Cheltenham Town.
However, the points were eventually docked by the Football League after an administration error meant Nicholson was ineligible to play.
The error was completely out of Nicholson’s hands, but he felt the burden of being associated with the mistake – although it was tempered by the relief that it did not have further implications.
“The team was not told about the mistake and the docked points until after we were safe from relegation,” he said.
“But imagine if the lost points meant we were relegated, it would have been indirectly down to me and that would have been too much.
“It does not even bear thinking about, but fortunately it didn’t, and now we can move on to next season.”
Nicholson and his team-mates report for duty on June 30 ahead of the new League Two campaign.
And while there have been no words from the management on how the Dons will approach it, Nicholson has an idea what they need to do to improve on three seasons at the wrong end of the table.
He said: “In League Two anyone can beat anyone else. We drew with Chesterfield in March and were the better team, and they ended up winning the League, it shows anyone can give anyone else a game.
“We need to work out what makes that small difference, and I believe it is consistency and momentum.”
He added: “I would love to be playing higher up the leagues, and who knows, that could be with Wimbledon.
“It’s a fantastic set up here, and if we pushed for the play-offs, won promotion, and then did the same the following year, before you know it, we’re in the Championship.
“It all comes down to doing the little things right and making sure we’re the team making the most of the small differences.”