Tearful Warren Feeney: It was a tough call for me to leave Linfield
Warren Feeney has revealed that he shed tears as he walked out on his 17-month reign as manager of Linfield.
In the end, it was the lure of working in full-time football close to his family home in south Wales that led the 34-year-old to quit the club he supported as a boy.
The Belfast Telegraph revealed yesterday that Feeney would leave the Blues, with the offer of the assistant manager's job at Newport County, as well as other factors - not least the fact that his family has stayed in the area for the last 18 months while he lived on his own in Belfast - proving too good to turn down.
"The club did all it could with a contract extension, but I just thought it was the right opportunity for me to move home with the kids and also to get back into full-time football," said Feeney.
"It was every day of my life for 18 years.
"They did everything in their power to keep me, but it was just one of those football decisions.
"I have mixed emotions. It's disappointing for me to be leaving Linfield, but it's exciting too.
"It's a tough decision, but my family is there.
"I love Linfield. I can't speak highly enough of the chairman, the board, they have been absolutely fantastic with me.
"The staff around me, every single one of them is like a family member to me and going in to see the players, I am not going to deny it, there was a tear in my eye.
"There is something special there, I hope that I have started something and I know the players will carry it on.
"It was a tough, tough decision for me.
"I do want to manage at the highest level I can and be the best. I went over everything over the weekend. I was going, I wasn't. I was going, I wasn't.
"I have come to the decision. My family and my wife are a mile away. It was my daughter's birthday yesterday and she came on the phone.
"I had a fantastic time here. It's a special club with special people."
The Linfield board did make a last-ditch attempt to keep Feeney as manager of the club.
They tried to persuade the former Northern Ireland international to knock back the Welsh side by offering him a new contract, which involved a significant pay hike.
While Linfield knew that they couldn't compete financially with Newport, their hope was that longer term security would swing things.
An additional two years were to be added to his contract, running until the summer of 2018, whereas the deal at Newport is understood to only run until the end of the current season.
The Blues hierarchy, however, were well aware that it was probably too late to stop him from leaving.
And that is exactly how it turned out.
Linfield chairman Jim Kerr commented: "It's a very, very sad day for Linfield Football Club.
"He leaves with the club sitting at the top of the league and that is down, in no small part, to Warren.
"The club did make him an improved contract extension, but his family played a major part in his decision to go.
"We have already started the process of finding a new manager."
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