Doncaster Rovers: Sulli not ready to let it go just yet

Back with a bang: Neil Sullivan impressed on his return to the Rovers side after his recall from a loan at AFC Wimbledon.
Back with a bang: Neil Sullivan impressed on his return to the Rovers side after his recall from a loan at AFC Wimbledon.
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HE may have turned 43 last month but retirement is not a word Neil Sullivan is ready to contemplate just yet.

The veteran keeper has not lost his love for playing the game despite a difficult couple of years which saw him drop down the Keepmoat pecking order.

Though he would not admit it, he probably thought deep down he would not play again for the club he has been employed at for almost eight years.

Prior to being handed the starting jersey at Bournemouth on Saturday, Sullivan had not played a single minute for Rovers since November 2011 and spent the last four months on loan with AFC Wimbledon.

After being recalled to cover for the injured Gary Woods, Sullivan turned in an impressive performance to help Rovers secure a win that kept them top of League One.

And now he is determined to play a big role in the fight for promotion – and hopes to extend his Rovers career in the process.

“My contract is up at the end of the season and I don’t know what lies beyond that,” he said.

“I could say that I’m going to play for another three years but unless someone gives me a contract that’s not going to happen.

“I didn’t want my career to peter out not playing which is why I wanted to go out on loan.

“I’ve not played for this club for 18 months and I just wanted to go out and play after a couple of niggles.

“I’m grateful that Donny let me do that. I just enjoy playing and I’ll keep going as long as I keep going.

“I’m just going to take my chances to play, give it my all as I always do and see what happens.

“If I can help Donny get into the Championship then I’m ready to do what it takes.”

Sullivan produced a number of key saves at Bournemouth including tipping a strike from a breaking Lewis Grabban wide to keep Rovers 1-0 up.

More important for Sullivan than showing he still has what it takes was helping Rovers to a vital win.

And he is hoping to be given the opportunity to do the same against Carlisle at the Keepmoat tonight.

He said: “How I played was secondary to getting the win.

“There’s a big emphasis in wanting to stay top now we’ve got there with nine games to go.

“To go to Bournemouth and win, especially with the way we won, is a fantastic result for us that will hopefully kick us on.

“It shows the character of this group that we conceded late and the lads went up the other end and got the winner straight away.

“I think if we play with the same intensity and desire to win over the next three games then we should be able to hopefully open up a gap over third place.

“Personally, I hope that I showed I can still contribute.

“If I have to stand there for 90 minutes and not make a save then that’s great. But if I have saves to make and I make them then that’s even better.

“Hopefully a performance like that gave the chairman a nudge and something to think about this summer.”

In a matter of days Sullivan went from a scrap to stay in the Football League with Wimbledon to a fight to reach the Championship with Rovers.

He insists though the ultimate target is different, the goals are still the same.

“It’s just a different kind of pressure,” Sullivan said.

“I was down at the bottom, scrapping for wins and now I’m at the top scrapping for wins.

“The goals are the same, the desire to win does not change and you just keep doing your best.

“I really enjoyed going back to Wimbledon.

“My room mate for ten years is now the manager and he’s going to be a very good one.

“To go back to where it all started was very emotional and I’m grateful to both clubs for giving me the opportunity.

“It was a great day on Saturday because we won and Wimbledon won as well.

“If I can sit back at the end of the season and say I played a part in keeping Wimbledon up and getting Donny promoted, I’ll be a happy man.”

And if his playing career was to come to an end in the summer, Sullivan says he would not be too downhearted. He said: “I was 43 a couple of weeks ago and if it all stops in the summer then I can look back and say I gave it a good go right until the end.”