While most footballers are busy preparing for the start of the new season, Halifax-born Danny Racchi is one of hundreds still searching for a new club.
The former Kilmarnock and Huddersfield midfielder is currently without a team after a move to Wrexham fell through during pre-season.
The Professional Footballers’ Association estimates that each summer, about 700 players are released by their clubs.
The 27-year-old admitted his search for a new team has been stressful but is determined to find a way back into the game.
“For the sake of my career I need to be back in football,” he said.
“I’ve never been short of confidence but it is difficult going from club-to-club trying to get a deal.
“Plus I’ve had a some slight injuries that have stopped me getting fully fit, although I am now.
“But I believe in my own ability.
“I’ve had a great career so far, playing in front of 50,000 fans at Ibrox and at Hampden Park against Celtic, again in front of 50,000.
“I’ve achieved those things through ability and hard-work and being without a club is jeopardising that.
“I’ve maybe made a few bad choices along the way by not taking certain offers.
“I was offered a contract at Southport last year but didn’t take it - who knows where that could have led if I’d played a full season at Conference level?
“But I had interest from clubs higher up and for me, it’s never been about the money, it’s more about playing as high as I possibly can and achieving things.
“I’ve played 95 per cent of my career in the league and I feel I can help any team in the Conference get back there.”
The former Halifax ball-boy would like to stay local in his search for new employers.
“I’ve talked with Yeovil and Cheltenham but my family are from Halifax and my dad has been in hospital recently after having a couple of seizures and a couple of operations.
“So I don’t really want to move away from my family.
“I’ve had to turn down offers from clubs further away as I want to stay local.”
Racchi has watched some of Town’s pre-season games and is positive about Halifax’s chances this season.
“There’s no reason why Halifax can’t get promoted this season - they’re a massive club at this level,” he said.
“They’ve made a good signing in Connor Hughes.
“I played with him at Hyde last season - he’ll cause a lot of teams problems this season with his pace.
“I played with Andy Bishop at Bury and he’s a goal machine if he can get the right service.
“They’re a club close to my heart - I was in the crowd during the promotion season with Geoff Horsfield and Jamie Paterson.
“I worked with Chris Wilder at Bury and we’d always be talking about Halifax - I’m a fan at the end of the day.
“I go watch games when I can and so does my dad, and my uncle is a regular every week.”
Racchi, who was born in Greetland and is a former Brooksbank School pupil, came close to joining Wrexham this summer after seeing moves to other clubs collapse over the last 18 months.
“I’ve been out of playing regularly for about a year-and-a-half now,” he said.
“I’ve been at a few different clubs but for one reason or another, things have fallen through at the last minute.
“I got a phone call from Gary Mills asking me to do pre-season with Wrexham.
“I did really well and he offered me a contract after ten days and that I’d been the best player in pre-season.
“I played against Everton, Swansea and Stoke - against the likes of Charlie Adam and Mario Van Ginkel and did OK, caused them a few problems.
“But Gary said he couldn’t get the funds and he was desperate for a right-back.
“It’s obviously disappointing when you’ve agreed to sign for a club and it falls through but I understood the reasons why. It was just unfortunate personally as it’s left me without a club so close to the season.
“Lee Johnson, who I played with at Kilmarnock, had me go to Oldham last pre-season and he verbally offered me a deal but then he made a couple of other signings and didn’t have enough left in the budget.
“I got a call from Tranmere who offered me a contract but the manager, Rob Edwards, got sacked before I could sign it, which was just my luck!
“Then I went to Southport but they didn’t have much money to offer me.
“I decided to go down to the Conference North as even if I signed for a club there I could go back into league football at any time.
“So I went to Hyde for five games, scored a couple of goals and set-up two or three.
“It’s hard going from where I’ve been to that level - the pitches can be extremely bad and the teams don’t play the same style I’ve been used to.”
Racchi reckons the influx of foreign players to English football is a factor in so many players being without a club.
He added: “It’s the way football works, especially in England.
“There are so many foreign players that the best English players get forced downwards.
“In countries like Holland and Germany, they have far fewer foreign players so the home-grown ones get more of a chance.
“There are about 1,500 to 2,000 players out of contract at the moment.
“Some of those will be youngsters with no experience but some will be 34 or 35 year old’s who’ve played 300 or 400 league games,
“I know my level of ability and where I should be, it’s just getting that opportunity.
“I believe I could have a massive impact for any team that takes me on.
“I just want to play.”