FORMER Newport County AFC striker Chris Zebroski has revealed that he was close to returning to Rodney Parade following his release from prison in 2017.

Zebroski scored 20 goals in 77 appearances for County between August 2013 and April 2015, when he was sacked after being jailed for robbery, attempted robbery and assault.

The Swindon-born forward was released after serving two years at HMP Prescoed in Monmouthshire and had a trial with the Exiles before joining Eastleigh in June 2017.

The 32-year-old moved on to Chippenham Town this summer and he’s spoken about his time inside, which included a successful spell for the prison football team in the Gwent Central League, in a new book – 90 Minutes of Freedom by Jamie Grundy.

“To get sent to jail had a big impact, a massive wake up call,” said Zebroski.

“I was in a fairly unique position compared to a lot of other people in prison because football had been my job.

“Playing in jail, it definitely built my character. There were a couple of lads who played for the other teams in the league who knew I’d played for Newport, so word spread because I had a good spell there.

“A few of us were trying to go back there after release,” he added.

“I did have an opportunity to go back on trial, but they didn’t offer me a contract at the time. Eastleigh did, and I knew it was too good to turn down. Looking back, I’ll never close the door on Newport.”

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Grundy’s book, which features a foreword by former Wales goalkeeper Neville Southall, focuses on the experiences of those who play for the only prisoner football team in Wales.

“Football in prison, I think it’s a great release,” said Zebroski.

“A lot of lads, when they couldn’t go to the gym, would get very anxious.

“They’d want to let off some steam because some lads have long sentences or problems at home. It’s a good release for them.

“That release, and the endorphins and hormones, it definitely takes you away mentally from your surroundings.

“It’s a good distraction and it makes you feel good about yourself physically.

“It was their sort of drug, their release. You would finish your workout, come back in your cell and you knew you’d worked hard. By the time you got your head on the pillow, you’d feel good about yourself.”

90 Minutes of Freedom by Jamie Grundy is out now and free tickets are available for a special launch event at Le Pub in Newport on Friday, October 11, from 7pm. For more details, visit jamiegrundy.net