GRAYS Athletic have unveiled former player and club favourite Jamie Stuart as their new manager following the departure of Mark Bentley last month.

Former professional and Grays captain Stuart, who won back-to-back FA Trophy crowns and the former Conference South title during a five year spell with the club between 2004 and 2009, takes up the reigns immediately as he looks to rebuild the Blues squad.

Grays lost their final 10 matches of the Ryman Premier League season after key players departed, with former owner Andy Swallow handing over control of the club to a new fans controlling company, the details of which are currently being finalised.

Stuart’s appointment will be a major boost to the club, with the man who made 229 appearances for Grays earlier in his career saying “he has come home”.

“I'm very excited to be given the opportunity to manage Grays Athletic,” said Stuart, who managed Grays once in 2006 in the Essex Senior Cup. “I did have options and other clubs interested but my mind was made up as soon as this position became available.

“I had the best time of my career playing for Grays and met and made some good friends at the club. Grays Athletic feels like home for me and I'm very excited and keen to get back.

“My work has already started. I’m talking to players arranging pre-season friendlies and so on. I always wore my heart on my sleeve as a player and gave my all and I believe, with my experience and contacts in football, I can be successful manager for Grays.

“I'm interviewing for management positions but will take my time and make sure I make the right decisions. I've got some very good people around me who want to help bring me back the happy memories we had at Grays.

“I know it's going to be a tough task but there is no one more ambitious and hungry than me. I can't wait to come home.”

Stuart enjoyed a nine-year professional career at club’s including Southend United, Bury, Millwall and Charlton Athletic, where he started his career.

He dropped down into non-league football in 2004 where he played for Hornchurch, Rushden & Diamonds, AFC Wimbledon, Sutton and most recently Margate.

But Stuart, who also picked up four England Under-21 caps having represented the Under-18s, enjoyed his most successful spell in non-league at Grays, winning the Conference South, two FA Trophy crowns and competing in the Conference National Play-offs.

A club spokesman said: “After interviewing a number of candidates it was clear in our minds that Jamie was the ideal person to move the club forward. His passion for Grays Athletic, coupled with his professionalism and the contacts he has in the game, made him the ideal choice.”