Carlisle United can confirm that long-serving keeper Mark Gillespie has today turned down the offer of a new deal with the club as he seeks a fresh challenge for the next stage of his career.
Gillespie, 25, joined the club from Newcastle United as a 16-year-old and went to establish himself as a genuine number one, making 180 appearances in total for the Blues. He played in every league game for United last season.
Manager Keith Curle said: “Mark leaves us with nothing but good wishes. He was offered a deal because we wanted him to stay but I fully respect any decision a player chooses to make about his own career.
“We had a good, long conversation and I know he has enjoyed his football and time at this club. He’s still at a very good age and I think he knows there is even more improvement to come. I’m sure we’ll all join in thanking him for his dedication and efforts.”
Speaking to the official website this morning, Gillespie said: “Everyone who knows me will know I’ve made this decision with a heavy heart. I’ve spoken to the manager, and had a fantastic conversation, but I’ve decided that this is the best time for me to make a decision like this.
“It’s all purely down to the fact it feels on a personal level that this is the right time for me to face a fresh challenge, for the betterment of my career and to gain even more experience of a different kind.
“What won’t change is that Carlisle United will always feel like my club. I’ve grown up there personally and professionally and there are so many people I need to thank for that - from football and club staff, to friends and family, and especially to the fans.
“It does feel strange that I’m now leaving after so many years and having made so many memories but, like I say, it feels like this is the best time for me to move on to a different challenge. Thank you to everyone connected to the club for what has been an unbelievable nine years.”
We’ll have a full interview with Mark Gillespie on the official website on Thursday morning.