Andy Hessenthaler wants quick return to football after departing Priestfield
Andy Hessenthaler says he leaves the club a proud man after watching the team achieve so much success this season.
Andy, who had his contract terminated earlier in the week as Director of Football, was twice Manager at the club and made over 350 appearances for the Gills in all competitions.
He says he is now ready for a fresh challenge, although he is grateful for the opportunities he has had at MEMS Priestfield Stadium.
Speaking exclusively to the club’s official website he said: “I have enjoyed it and the Chairman made me enjoy it, he was good because of the responsibility I had. I worked closely with Martin earlier in the season – we did our work, looked at players and I went to watch them for him.
“I got him involved with contracts with the Chairman and with him living in Dubai he put a lot of trust in me which he has done over the years. It’s another feather in my cap and something else on my CV but the Chairman could see the hunger in my eyes at the end of the season.
“I’m ready to get back on the training ground and be a Manager or Coach again. Over the year I have got a lot of satisfaction in watching the players we have brought through, like Matt Fish.
“At the time a lot of people were a bit unsure about Matt because he picked up a few injuries, but I knew deep down that if you gave Matt some time he would come through.
“He was tremendous this year, and the likes of Joe Martin. Charlie Lee, Chris Whelpdale, Callum Davies, Bradley Dack and Keds scoring the winning goal [against Torquay] – getting Birch back fit again, Lewis Montrose and Jack Payne too so it’s been a real satisfying season for me.
“I think most people involved with the football club probably understand and respect my decision because that’s what I feel I am good at. I have built a team up, I was disappointed that I wasn’t able to carry it on but because me and the Chairman are so close and I respect him so much I moved upstairs as Director of Football and continued the good work that we had put in the years before.
“I go with lots of memories – I have left the club before and come back so I have been affiliated to the club for a long time and I have enjoyed every minute of it.
“Without a doubt, to be champions for the first time in 50 years Martin has done fantastically well with the players. John Schofield, Carl Muggleton and the staff have done really well and it’s been a massive effort by the players.
“Just to see the players playing a part that I identified bringing in to the club. The money that was generated by the sale of Gazzaniga, the Luke Rooney deal and the knock on effect of Matt Jarvis who I gave his debut to.
“He then went off to Wolves so those finances helped us push on and get us where we wanted to be at the end of the season so I have got massive pride to sit up there and watch the boys get promotion.
“I put my teeth in to the new role because I wanted to make sure we could be successful but after watching games and training sessions I was missing it and it began to hit home how much I missed the training ground and organising a team.
“I’ve had a really good time and I’m grateful to the Chairman and everybody associated to the club, and the fans. If it wasn’t for the fans you wouldn’t have a club.
Andy reminisced on some of the memories he has from his time at the club, and recalled a couple of memorable goals which were so important at critical moments.
He added: “As a player we have had some fantastic runs in the cup over the years. The quarter final at Chelsea when I was Player/Coach and we lost 5-0 at Stamford Bridge was tremendous, and that was the same year that we got promoted.
“We had a really great year off the back of the Man City game which is one I will never forget, a sad finish but an unbelievable game.
“Winning the year after against Wigan was amazing, it was a special year because of the FA Cup and the goal I scored at the Britannia Stadium when I scored when it was 3-1 to get it back to 3-2 which was like winning the game and we went away thinking we were going to do it.
“I didn’t get that many goals in my career but without a doubt that is the special one for me and the one which counted the most. I also scored the goal against Preston which got us to Wembley for the Man City game so I scored a couple of vital ones.
“As a Manager there were special moments – the game against Arsenal when we got it back to 2-2 and he [Arsene Wenger] brought Henry and Pires on, and I decided to put myself on. It was probably the wrong decision but it was a tremendous game.
“To finish in the highest position in the club’s history, it was like getting promotion for us. I’ve had some really good times, we’ve had tough ones aswell but it won’t always be good.
“I go away with a bit of a frog in my throat and a bit of sadness, but I’ll be keeping in contact and speaking to the Chairman on a regular basis as friends.”
To watch Andy’s exclusive interview on Gills Player click here.
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