Ryan Donaldson and Dave Challinor react as captain departs Hartlepool United
Captain Ryan Donaldson has left Hartlepool United, the club has confirmed.
After 151 appearances in blue and white over two spells the 30-year-old midfielder has left the club.
In an emotional statement, Pools boss Dave Challinor has paid tribute to Donaldson, his work rate and professionalism off the pitch.
Pools are currently undergoing a major rebuild following promotion back to the Football League and Donaldson is going in ‘slightly different direction’ with his career, Challinor has confirmed.
His next club is yet to be confirmed.
Challinor said: “I’m really disappointed that Ryan will be leaving the club but fully understand and respect his decision.
"He’s decided to go in a slightly different direction with his career and set himself up for further down the line.
"Personally he’ll be a big miss for us as a management team, a top professional, trains brilliantly, a driver of standards, a leader, a hugely valuable and respected member of our promotion winning team and most important of all a good person.
“He was brought to the club to get the club back to the EFL, he’s done that.
"His parting memory is that his last kick of a football for this club was the decisive penalty at Bristol, to then lift the trophy with Feath, Millennium Square with the fans and the open top bus parade for him is leaving on the highest of highs and it doesn’t get any better than that.
“From the outside, sometimes players are under valued and he’s certainly that for me.
"You need lots of facets, personalities and characteristics within a successful dressing room and three promotions as a player on his CV is something no one can take away from him.
"He’s bought into the ethos of this football club over the time he’s been here and if there’s one who epitomises that NSD spirit, it’s him.
"I’d like to thank him for the 18 months since I came into the club, he’s been a pleasure to manage and work with, wish him all the best moving forward and he knows he’ll always be welcome back at The Vic.”
Donaldson was limited to just 14 starts as Hartlepool United captain during the club’s successful 2020-21 promotion campaign.
Having spent the two previous seasons playing almost every match, it was an unusual position for the 30-year-old to find himself in.
A plantar fasciitis issue in addition to the excellent form of the side prevented Donaldson getting a regular look in from December onwards as Pools mounted their promotion charge.
But the versatile midfielder was still able to play a crucial role in the club’s promotion back to the Football League as he dispatched a vital penalty in the promotion final shoot-out against Torquay United.
Donaldson added: “Just felt like it was the right time for me to leave and start something new, had the best four years but they’ve been tough as well, not many people get a perfect ending but I came pretty close.
“Thanks to the manager and all his staff for the hard work they put in, thanks to the fans for all their support, they make the club what it is.
"Finally thanks to my team mates, I was so proud to be a part of that group.”