Morecambe boss Jim Bentley has led the tributes after midfielder Andy Fleming announced his retirement.
News of the 31-year-old’s decision emerged hours before Saturday’s pre-season win at Bamber Bridge, which Fleming watched from the sidelines.
Fleming took the decision after an MRI scan on the knee he injured last season, keeping him out for six months.
Although he returned in time to play the final quarter of the campaign, the pain had returned in pre-season.
As a result, the friendly defeat at FC United of Manchester was the last appearance for Fleming, who had been with the club for nine years and scored the first goal at the Globe Arena.
Bentley told the club website: “I’m absolutely devastated about the news of Andy unfortunately retiring from the professional game.
“Speaking with him when he came to his decision this week was one of the worst meetings I’ve ever had with a player.
“He’s the only outfield player still at the club since I played and we used to travel together to games and training every day.
“He’s a good friend of mine who I respect and think the world of as a person.
“He’s been a great servant to Morecambe Football Club and will go down in history as one of the best midfielders the club has had in the Football League.
“He’s probably been one of the easiest players to manage as he just gets on with the job with no fuss and has always gained the respect from his team mates.
“His attitude was always the same whether you were 4-0 up or 4-0 down, he just kept going and always gave his all no matter what and wanted to make the next tackle, win the next header or pass the next ball.
“He’s been a great character in the dressing and someone I will be friends with for forever. He was a great team mate and has been an absolute pleasure to manage.
“This is a sad day for Morecambe FC and even more so for Flemo himself, but I’m sure everyone wishes him well in whatever he does next in his life and wish him and his young family every success in the future.”