South Shields have pulled off a transfer coup after former Sunderland and Middlesbrough star Julio Arca agreed to join the Northern League club.
Ex-Sunderland, Derby County, Burnley and Hartlepool United youngster Ryan Noble has also signed for the ambitious Mariners.
The capture of Argentine Arca was confirmed by Shields last night, with the 34-year-old central midfielder, who can also play at left-back, expected to attend today’s game against Easington Colliery at Mariners Park ahead of a potential debut next week.
Meanwhile, Noble, 23, played for Northern League Division One side Durham City last season, scoring regularly, and has joined Shields from Sunderland RCA. He could make his debut for Shields in today’s 3pm kick-off.
Arca was a crowd favourite in his spell at Sunderland between 2000 and 2006, and played Sunday League football for Willow Pond last season.
He ended his professional career after a seven-year spell at Middlesbrough came to an end in 2013, but he says his competitiveness is as strong as ever.
I want to bring some excitement to the club. The team is doing really well at the momentJULIO ARCA
He said: “I’ve been in talks with the manager, Jon King, and the chairman Geoff Thompson for a while, and they’re really excited about bringing the club up and progressing to make the club bigger.
“I want to bring some excitement to the club. The team is doing really well at the moment and are up near the top of the league, and hopefully we’ll get even more fans excited enough to come and watch the games. The aim is to win the league.
“I came here before the season even started, so they told me all about what they’re looking for and what the ideas are here. It’s a long-term plan, so everything looked exciting.
“I’m really competitive in everything I do, so I want to win every game. That’s how I was like last season playing Sunday League football with my friends.
“I was probably one of the most competitive in the team, because if I’m going to do something, I want to do it right.”
Noble, meanwhile, made a handful of first-team appearances for Sunderland before leaving in 2013.
He said: “I just want to get first-team football, and as soon as the manager spoke to me, I thought it was a good opportunity.
“I heard the club was going places with the new owner, so when the opportunity came up, I jumped at it.
“I’m confident I’ll be able to score a lot of goals here, and I think of myself as a poacher.
“I back myself to score in most of the games I play, and I’m hoping to hit the ground running.”
Shields have also completed the signing of Bishop Auckland goalkeeper Scott Pocklington.