Losing Curtis Fleming to Queens Park Rangers has been one of the bitterest blows to Craig Hignett, in what he has described as his worst week in football.
But the Pools boss admits he could not stand in the way of his close friend and confidante, as he wanted to move on to better things.
He is a top lad and a good friend. He is a big loss around the place
“It is a one where we would never stand in his way,” said Hignett.
“Curtis knows me as a lad, he knows what I want, he knows what football I want to play.
“I can talk to Curtis. He is one who I can confide in. I trust him.
“He is a top lad and a good friend. He is a big loss around the place.
“It’s sad to see Curtis go but it’s a great opportunity for him to work in the Championship.
“He’s given everything to this club while he’s been here and he leaves with our blessing and our best wishes for the future.”
Yesterday, Hartlepool confirmed their assistant manager had joined the Championship outfit.
Headhunted by Ian Holloway, with whom the Irishman worked with at Crystal Palace, Fleming penned a deal at Loftus Road, having taken in their second tier loss to Derby County.
The former Middlesbrough defender, who will take up the role of first team coach under Holloway, departs after just 10 months at the Northern Gas & Power Stadium.
Confirming the news, a club statement read: “Hartlepool United can confirm that Curtis Fleming has now left the club to take up a role on a first team coach role at Queens Park Rangers.
“Fleming spent his last day with Pools at the training ground on Tuesday before travelling to London to finalise talks on the move to Loftus Road to work alongside their new boss Ian Holloway.”
“Sam Collins will now step up from his role with Pools’ Under-21s to assist Craig Hignett for this Saturday’s game against Portsmouth.”
While Under-21 charge Collins has been thrown in at the deep end, Hignett hopes a replacement for Fleming will be sought.
Although, he stopped short of saying the plan has been set in stone.
He said: “We are talking about it this week.
“We have spoken with the chief executive and the chairman and we have bandied a few names about. We will go through them and see what we can do.”
Meanwhile, Holloway admits he’s delighted to get Fleming on board.
“Curtis is the ultimate professional – and will give me exactly what I want on the training ground,” said Holloway.
“He’s a sharp, young man; brilliantly organised; great with people – and he’s got a defensive mindset, which I think is something we need. I think he’s absolutely perfect for QPR.”
Fleming, who said his goodbyes to players and staff on Tuesday, having taken his final training session at the club’s Durham University training base, said he was delighted to be handed the opportunity to coach in the second tier.
“This is a brilliant opportunity for me to work with quality players at a fantastic football club,” he said.
“It came out of the blue for me really, but I’m delighted to be here. I can’t wait to get started.”