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Leeman will not be last to leave Glentoran

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Paul Leeman

Paul Leeman

Paul Leeman

Scott Young sent a message out to the remaining players in his Glentoran squad with the decision to release influential skipper Paul Leeman - no one is safe.

Young will meet with some of the team tonight and many will be told that they, too, are heading for the Oval exit door.

News of Leeman's departure broke yesterday and sent shockwaves around local footballing circles.

It was a huge call for Young to make and it will have been one of the toughest conversations he will ever have.

Young revealed that Leeman had, unsurprisingly such is his passion for Glentoran, offered to take a huge pay cut to stay on at the Oval.

With a salary cap set to be enforced in the Carling Premiership next season and the Glens in a state, there was apparently still not enough money in the pot.

“Ideally I’d loved to have offered Paul a new contract,” said Young on the club's official website.

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“He has been a magnificent servant to this club and epitomises everything that is Glentoran.

“Faced with the situation Paul offered to take a significant pay cut, but unfortunately the current financial position meant that I would still have exceeded my budget.

“It was certainly a hard call to make. I’d like to thank Paul for everything he’s given to Glentoran Football Club and wish him all the best for the future.”

Leeman, in the same mould as Noel Bailie at Linfield, is a popular player throughout the league, respected by opposition fans and lauded by his own.

In fact, for Glenmen, he is one of them.

The 33-year-old grew up just yards from the Oval and followed the team week-in, week-out as a kid before he realised his dream when then-boss Tommy Cassidy gave ‘Leeper' a teenage debut against Glenavon at Mourneview Park at the end of the 1995-96 season.

Since then he has become a mainstay in the Glentoran line-up and proudly captained his boyhood club to numerous honours, including four league titles and four Irish Cups in a trophy-laden 15-year career in the team he loves.

However, that has now come to an abrupt end with cost-cutting the real reason.

It would be fair to say that if the Glens weren't in such a serious financial mire they would have kept Leeman on, if for no other reason than to use his experience in helping to bring younger players through into the first team.

And that's not to say that he won't do a job elsewhere — his phone will have been red-hot yesterday with many Carling Premiership club bosses giving him a call to gauge his interest.

It is believed that Crusaders, Ballymena United, Lisburn Distillery, Glenavon and potentially more are monitoring the situation with a view to offering a deal.

Managers live or die by their decisions. Young has made a brave one. Whether it is the right one we will find out next season.


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