JOHN McGrath has revealed it was an emotional day when he was told his Burton Albion career would be coming to an end this summer.
The club captain made his final appearances for the Brewers in the League Two play-off semi-final first and second legs against Bradford City before being taken to one side by manager Gary Rowett last Monday.
And after six years with the club, McGrath is leaving with a heavy heart, despite understanding his boss’ decision.
“I know it’s not easy for Gaz (Rowett) to come and tell me I’m done,” he said.
“But we didn’t have a cross word at all – people have got to make tough decisions.
“I was told on Monday and I went straight into Rocky’s (kit manager Ray Hudson) kit room and we were both a bit teary.
“After the injury last February I didn’t get back in, and other people came in.
“Since I’ve come here I’ve been a 40-game a season player, but now I’ve got Robbie Weir, Lee Bell, Jack Dyer and Matt Palmer ahead of me.
“I can totally see it from the club’s point of view.”
Ironically, a suspension doled out to player of the year Bell in the penultimate game of the regular season allowed McGrath to end his Albion career on something of a high.
“Credit to Bell, he has come in and become player of the year.
“In a mini scenario, the same happened to me at the end of the season, as when Lee got injured, I came back in.
“And I’m so glad I got to play the final three games.
“To be trusted to be called on by the manager - I was chuffed to bits.
“I’m sad, but I would have been even more sad if I’d had to leave without giving it ago.
“I said to the manager a few weeks ago, I don’t want my career to fizzle out.”
McGrath, 33, appeared just six other times in the league for Albion this season, with a cruel injury picked up last campaign and a loan spell with York City curtailing his involvement.
In total, he played more than 250 games for the club to become a fans’ favourite, and his central midfield partnership with Michael Simpson was outstanding at non-league level, proving key to promotion to the Football League.
Many moments stand out for the man who was named skipper following the depature of club legend Darren Stride.
He said: “I’ve got so many memories - scoring on my debut, winning the Conference and being made captain.
“Following in the footsteps of Darren Stride was huge.
“I couldn’t tell you anything from my previous clubs, but Burton means so much.
“My six years here, I’ve played a few bad games, but I’ve always given 100 per cent.
“My little boy was four when I came here, he’s 10 now and this is all he knows.
“I don’t get a babysitter, I bring him to work with me, and I know he is safe here.”
Unlike former team-mate Andy Corbett, who has retired from the game following his release by Albion, McGrath wants to continue playing.
“I know I’ve got three or four years left in me,” he said.
“I’ve got a young family and I need to look forward to my next challenge, wherever that may be.”