Darin KillpartRick described Luke Nightingale as one of the most professional players he’d ever worked with after the stalwart striker decided to retire.
The former Pompey forward has called it a day after 197 starts plus 29 appearances as a sub for the Rocks and 109 goals, including six this season.
Nightingale firmly established himself as a fans’ favourite at Nyewood Lane and his retirement is another blow to a club still recovering from Michael Birmingham’s decision to quit two months ago.
Nightingale has suffered persistent knee problems and he almost called it quits in the summer but decided to carry on. But he has been frustrated at not feeling 100 per cent fit for much of the current campaign.
Another knee injury, picked up in the Ryman League Cup win at Walton nine days ago, convinced him to hang up his boots.
Nightingale told bosses Jamie Howell and Killpartrick of his decision on Saturday.
Killpartrick said: “We were half expecting him to retire next time he did his knee so it’s not too much of a shock to us as managers, although it probably is to a lot of fans.
“Luke is one of the most professional players I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. He will be missed and – like Michael – will be very, very hard to replace.
“He’s a character, not just a player, and we can’t thank him enough for all the goals he has scored and set up and for everything else he has given us down the years.”
Howell added: “Luke has been a fantastic servant to the club.”
Fans were also quick to pay tribute, with one summing up: “Class is the one word to describe Luke, both on and off the pitch.”
A forward is among players the Rocks are now looking to recruit.