Rene Gilmartin is settling nicely into life at new club Colchester United.

But it seems as though there was already a goalkeeping link between the big Irishman and the U’s prior to him moving to the Weston Homes Community Stadium in a player-coach role.

Gilmartin was coached at his previous club Watford by Alec Chamberlain, who made more than 200 appearances for Colchester between 1982 and 1987 and is regarded as one of the club’s finest-ever keepers.

Gilmartin said: “Alec is a great individual and obviously knows all about Colchester United!

“He was thrilled when I told him that I had an opportunity to come back over this way.

“It was a great experience for me, working with the likes of Alec and he helped me a lot with his sessions last year, at Watford.

“You take things from people like that and the great thing is that at this age, I’m out to apply it.”

Gilmartin failed to make a first-team appearance for Watford during his three-year second spell in Hertfordshire.

But the 30-year-old shot-stopper, who featured for Colchester for the first time in their 4-0 friendly win at Needham Market on Tuesday night, says the experience he had at Vicarage Road was nevertheless invaluable.

“I didn’t play many games at Watford but Heurelho Gomes was outstanding for the whole time I was there,” said the Republic of Ireland under-21 international.

“He’s an international for Brazil and it was great seeing how he was in the dressing room and how his character was, how he involved people.

“He’s multi-lingual and as small as that might sound, it was brilliant having someone like that being able to engage with people.

“I was training every day and I was part of the first-team squad that travelled to every game.

“You’re part of a team unit and you’re in the dressing room with a diverse range of different characters and nationalities and that’s all a learning curve. I also worked with a lot of managers and it’s well documented that Watford change managers quite a lot.

“I’m on the sides learning from each one and learning from different coaches and different styles, methods and philosophies.

“I didn’t waste my time and I’m grateful to Watford for the experience and letting me a part of it but also, I offered quite a lot down there I think and give back by coaching with the academy and the under-23s and under-18s.

“I also learnt in the past from people like Clayton Ince, when I was a younger keeper at Walsall – he’s played hundreds of games.”

Gilmartin has played in every division in the EFL during his professional career, which has seen him previously represent the likes of Plymouth Argyle, Walsall and Yeovil Town.

He is keen to continue playing but is equally as enthusiastic about his coaching career, which will see him work with fellow keepers Sam Walker and Dillon Barnes at Colchester.

“I’ve played in every league apart from the Premier League which I was involved in too, so I bring a lot of experience,” added Gilmartin, who has replaced long-serving Ademola Bankole as Colchester’s goalkeeper coach.

“It’s not only the experiences you have on the pitch; it’s the experiences of winning and losing, of promotions and relegations and how that affects the dressing room.

“It’s such a big thing, especially at a club like Colchester United where you have young players – it’s about developing their character.

“We know how relentless League Two is and the fixtures come thick and fast.

“They have to learn the elation of winning but also not to get too down with losing.”