Zoom calls, Clough advice and golf trips - Inside Joe Sbarra's move to Doncaster Rovers

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If first impressions are anything to go by, then Doncaster Rovers are onto a winner with Joe Sbarra.

The club's first summer signing was in top form as he chewed the cud with the local media on Tuesday morning over a virtual press conference, less than 24 hours after completing his free transfer to South Yorkshire from Solihull Moors.

Cutting a relaxed figure, the likeable Midlander said all the right things as he spoke of how the move came about. Having only left Moors in the past week, the switch to Rovers has come about in particularly quick fashion.

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But the 25-year-old says it didn't take him long to realise it was the right call at this stage of his career.

"We had a Zoom call with me, the gaffer (Grant McCann) and my agent," Sbarra tells the Free Press. "I sent a text to my Dad afterwards and said 'I think I might be going to Donny!'

"I don't know how to describe it. It's when you speak to someone and just get a good feeling about it and you just know straight away in your gut it's the right thing to do. I'm delighted."

It's clear that McCann's sales pitch worked a treat. Key to that was highlighting the immense turnaround that last season saw Rovers propel themselves from third-bottom and into the play-offs. A ten-game winning streak proved pivotal, equalling a long-standing club record.

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Sbarra added: "The gaffer showed me a table and I think from December 31 to the end of the season they were the form side. I know there was a lot of injuries at the start so obviously they've fixed that, went on a really good run and there's the bones there of a really good team. Hopefully we can push on."

Joe Sbarra was a key player for former club Solihull Moors. (Photo by Richard Pelham/Getty Images)Joe Sbarra was a key player for former club Solihull Moors. (Photo by Richard Pelham/Getty Images)
Joe Sbarra was a key player for former club Solihull Moors. (Photo by Richard Pelham/Getty Images)

Prior to his four-year stay at National League side Solihull, where he became a hugely popular player as well as one of the most sought-after attacking midfielders outside the EFL, Sbarra cut his teeth at Burton Albion. Under the tutelage of Nigel Clough he played 70 times across four seasons, including 18 outings in the Championship.

And ahead of making the switch to the Eco-Power Stadium he says he sounded out his old manager for advice.

"I spoke to Nigel and he was very complimentary of this club and the gaffer," Sbarra said. "It's good to be a part of and I'm really excited to be on this journey. There's certain standards here and if you go below them I'm sure we'll get pulled up on that. I'm excited for the challenge."

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A benefit to Sbarra having tied up the move quickly is that it allows him some brief respite before pre-season begins. For the self-confessed West Brom fan, that rest and recovery comes in the form of a holiday later this week with another sport at the centre of the trip.

"I've got a golfing holiday on Thursday but I'm not sure I'll be very good. I give it a whack but I'm not so sure I'll be on the Tour any time soon!"

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