DR7 heads for Football League - with heartfelt messages to Hastings and their fans

Davide Rodari headed off for a Football League career and told Hastings United: Thank you will never be enough

Davide Rodari in action for Hastings against Ashford in 2019 / Picture: Scott White
Davide Rodari in action for Hastings against Ashford in 2019 / Picture: Scott White

The 21-year-old Italian goal ace has joined League Two Crawley Town on a permanent transfer for a five-figure fee - after rejecting an offer from Scunthorpe United.

Rodari joined the Hastings u19 development set-up in 2016-17 and went on to break into the first team for the 2017-18. After injury, he defied the odds by scoring 22 goals in 22 games in the 2019-20 season before the league was curtailed by Covid-19. He broke Hastings United's goalscoring record for an individual game by netting eight goals as the Us demolished East Grinstead 12-3 in the League cup.

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Rodari returned to the team in the 2020-21 season, scoring on his return to Isthmian League action.

Rodari said: “What can I say, thank you will never be enough after having spent the past four years of my football career with this special club, so special I am proud to call it my second family.

"Everyone involved in Hastings United from Chris, Billy, Daren, my teammates, the supporters, the list is endless... all have played a massive part in getting me to where I am today. I am so grateful for your support over the years.

"The supporters, what a bunch of great people! Never have you stopped singing and cheering us on and that’s what makes this club so special. You have made this Italian feel like he is from this town and it is more my home than back in Italy. I have made so many memories over the years, memories I’ll never forget. Thank you Hastings and COYU!”

United manager Chris Agutter said: “I am so pleased for Davide. When he came to us from Eastbourne Borough it was always with a view to us helping him become a professional footballer.

"Davide has worked so hard to achieve this dream and if anyone deserves it, he does. While I am gutted our time together has come to an end, I am equally delighted that Hastings United have been able to help another local young man push on to a higher level.”

Hastings CEO Billy Wood added: “This deal for me is the biggest example of us having faith in our players and our players having faith in us. I cannot compare my emotion of seeing Davide go on with Chris, Dane Martin, Dean White or Ben White but I am so happy for Davide that his hard work and determination have paid off in him securing a contract with a league club.

"DR7 has been the poster boy for Hastings United for a while now and while I am delighted to see him go it may mean I need to shoot another advert for the kits!

"In all seriousness I am so happy, and I am excited to watch the next steps of his career."

Rodari's move to Crawley comes ten days after United 16-year-old midfielder Benn Ward joined the Burnley FC academy.

Wood added: "It’s been a busy window at the club and the phone has been ringing a lot, something most wouldn’t expect with a step four club, but something we should be proud of.

"Hastings United again has shown the progression pathway and while we wish Davide the best, we now look towards the summer making sure our reputation is backed up on the pitch, like it has been for the past two years.”

Boss Agutter signed a new two-year deal at The Pilot Field only last week.

Rodari adds to a Crawley Town squad who are in the League Two play-off hunt and visit AFC Bournemouth on Tuesday night in the FA Cup. Ironically the winners go to Burnley in the next round.