BEN RICHARDS-EVERTON admits he’s sad to say goodbye to Dunfermline but says he’ll always cherish an “amazing time” in his career.

The 25-year-old was the highest-profile name not to be offered a new deal by Allan Johnston last week and has returned home to the Midlands as he weighs up his next move.

After being a stand-out in the League One title-winning campaign, the popular centre back’s season was cruelly cut short in October when he picked up knee ligament damage in innocuous fashion against Hibernian.

That, coupled with the keyhole surgery that followed, meant he did not make another appearance for the Pars and now he’s on the lookout for a new club.

Richards-Everton insisted that, following a chat with Johnston, it was a mutual parting and, speaking exclusively to Press Sport, he told of his gratitude to the club and its supporters.

“To be honest, I’ve had a good year-and-a-half at Dunfermline; I’ve been out injured for a lot of the time this year and it’s difficult not having game time,” he said.

“But that’s football and this is a new chapter for me; I’m excited to see where I end up. Footballers move on but I’ve had a great time and I appreciate what everyone at the club has done; Allan (Johnston), Sandy Clark, Potts (John Potter), and the lads too. It’s one of the best changing rooms that I’ve been in so I’m sad to be leaving. I’ve made some really good friends like Joe Cardle, Fais (Faissal El Bakhtaoui) although he’s up at Dundee, and Josh Falkingham, but as a team we’re really close. I think that’s why we had such a successful season last season.

“You’ve always got to be prepared and I sat down with the gaffer. For me, it’d be nice to maybe play a bit closer to home and he said that they’d be going with a smaller squad, so it was like a mutual agreement. I’ll miss the club; the fans have been brilliant with me since I signed so I’m disappointed I won’t be there any more.

“But I’ve had an amazing time and the memories will never go.”

Looking back over his time as a Pars player Richards-Everton – who says he’s already had interest from clubs in England – continued: “Footballers can go to clubs and never win anything, so lifting the league trophy was amazing, especially as you could see how much it meant to everyone. The club is definitely moving in the right direction.

“At the start of last season I had a big part to play but we started this season poorly. We beat Dumbarton pretty comfortably – apart from at the end of the game – and we struggled a bit from there. Sean (Murdoch) was out, which was a big miss for us, but once things got going we got results.

“I had a long time out and I would’ve liked to prove that the step-up wasn’t out my depth; I feel like I’m capable of playing at this level, if not higher. My knee’s fine; I’m back to full fitness and training and, because it’s the off season, I’ll have time to catch up. I’ll keep myself ticking over.”

Whatever the future holds, Richards-Everton will always keep the Pars in his heart and added: “I just want to thank the club for everything they’ve done for me. The supporters have always been good to me and I’m still getting messages from them saying that they’ll follow me wherever I go, even though it’s not with their club. That’s really nice.

“I was close to everyone, all the way through to Mo (Hutton, kitman) and I hope next season the club can push on. Dunfermline should be in the top league and I hope next season they can push on.

“I’ll still speak to players, if not come up and visit, so I’ll definitely keep an eye on results. I’ll always have a soft spot for the club.”