Stephen Carson says he ‘can’t thank Coleraine enough’ for all the club has done for him during his two spells with The Showgrounds.
Carson was speaking as he prepares to head off on a new career path in America. The midfielder is taking up a coaching role with Everton America, who are based in Connecticut, within the next fortnight.
It means Saturday’s Irish Cup tie against Cliftonville will be the Ballymoney man’s last game both in the Irish League and also for Coleraine.
“It’s very much a case of mixed feelings for me,” said Carson.
“I’m excited about the new challenge ahead, but it is tinged with sadness as I’m bringing the curtain down on my Coleraine career.
“I have so many good memories from my time at Coleraine. I have such a good affinity with the club, I love it, it’s my club.
“I really can’t thank everyone enough for everything they have done for me during my seven-and-a-half years at The Showgrounds. I really am humbled.
“From the day and hour I first came here everyone has done all they can for me. From the fans through to the rest of the players, management, board and chairman I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.”
Carson was delighted to be given the opportunity to come back to Coleraine in the summer after two seasons at Glentoran, and this is something he will always be grateful for.
“I’d just like to thank Oran and Colin McKendry for making it possible for me to come back here,” he said.
“I enjoyed my time at the Glens but I wanted to come back here.
“I would have liked to be able to sign off with us in a healthier league position, but it just hasn’t worked out.
“I have every faith in the manager and the players to turn this around though, the squad is good enough and the new players have bolstered us further.”
Carson is hoping for the perfect send off in a Coleraine shirt, signing off with a win in Saturday’s game at Solitude.
“The Irish Cup is always a special day,” he said.
“I have some good memories of the cup, I’ve won one final and lost another, but hopefully I can sign off with another special memory.
“Not just for me personally but for the club. There are so many hard working people at Coleraine who do a lot of work week in, week out and they deserve the big days out such as cup finals.
“I would like to play a part in making that possible if I can.”
Bannsiders boss Oran Kearney paid tribute to the contribution Carson has made over the past decade.
“Stephen Carson will long be remembered not just at The Showgrounds, but also in the Irish League as one of the most technically gifted players in the game,” said Kearney.
“He got people on their feet, he was such an exciting player to watch and his contribution in his two spells will not be forgotten at Coleraine.
“Not only did he set up countless goals over the years, but he also scored quite a few memorable ones along the way, none more so than the free kick against Ballymena earlier this season.
“He has had a fantastic career and I’m delighted he was able to end it at Coleraine as I know how much that meant to him. It may not have gone exactly how he would have liked, but he made a big contribution including scoring the vital last-gasp winner against Glenavon in November.
“On behalf of Coleraine FC I would just like to wish Stephen and his wife Paula all the best as they prepare to head off on this exciting chapter of their lives.
“And also say a big thank you for what he did for this club. He will always be made very welcome any time he comes back to The Showgrounds.”