Jack Collison says goodbye to West Ham fans with emotional open letter
Departing midfielder Jack Collison has bid an emotional farewell to West Ham fans with a lengthy open letter.
The Wales international, who joined West Ham as a teenager and made his first-team debut in 2008, has been released after making 121 appearances in all competitions for the London club.
His time at Upton Park was regularly disrupted by injury, and so Collison has taken the unorthodox step of thanking the club's medical staff for prolonging his career in a near 3,000-word statement on West Ham's official website.
The 25-year-old said: "The time has come for an end to my West Ham United career. What a roller coaster it has been - I have experienced plenty of ups and downs during my nine-year spell at West Ham!
"I hope I'm remembered as someone who gave his all in every game. Even when things weren't going well, I always tried my best to have a positive impact, not just on pitch, but also off the pitch and around the training ground.
"I must thank the medical staff at West Ham. They have stuck with me through everything and have been fantastic throughout. The moody days, the down days, the rainy days, I have experienced every moment alongside some of the best medical guys I have ever had the privilege of working with.
"As I move forward with my own career, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the fans once more. You have a fantastic set up, great staff and some wonderful players. As you move closer to the Olympic Stadium I wish you lots of luck."
Collison took the time to recall both the extreme highs and lows he had experienced during his life in east London.
Shortly before the Hammers were due to play Millwall in the Carling Cup in August 2009, Collison's father passed away.
"At 20 years old I was distraught to say the least," he said. "I had lost not only my dad but the man I had looked up to my entire life.
"I made the decision to play in the Millwall game - something my Dad would have wanted me to do. I was a mess, I remember walking onto the team bus before the game and nearly bursting into tears.
"It was at that point it began - team-mates picking me up, staff giving me words of encouragement and then I walked out onto the pitch. Wow! I was carried that night by every single person inside that stadium."
Then, in May 2012, Collison scored two semi-final goals to steer West Ham into a Championship play-off final against Blackpool they would go on to win.
He added: "The following season was possibly one of my most enjoyable in a West Ham shirt.
"Although we didn't get automatic promotion, the play-offs were one of the best experiences of my life. I hope those two goals in the play-off semi-final will go some way to paying the people back who stuck by me and supported me."