ADAM Henley says Blackburn Rovers will always have a special place in his heart despite seeing his long-association with the club come to an end.
Henley was one of six players released by the club following relegation from the Championship.
He made 94 appearances for Rovers in all, but wasn’t offered a new deal by the club after injury restricted him to just three appearances this season.
The full-back joined the club at the age of nine, progressing through the Academy ranks, before making his first team debut in a 3-3 draw at Wigan Athletic in November 2011 as 17-year-old.
And Henley said: “I’ve enjoyed every minute from the day I walked into Brockhall as a nine-year-old.
“I want to say a big thank you to all the coaches, players and backroom staff that have helped me on my journey to get to where I am now and helped me achieve my dream as a kid to become a professional. Everyone at Blackburn Rovers made that possible for me.
“Also to all the fans that have supported me in the club through the tough times, especially in the last few years, but for their support I’m massively grateful. For the future, Blackburn will always have a special place in my heart for everything it’s done for me and I’d like nothing more than to see it return to its former glory.”
Henley’s first start for Rovers came in the Boxing Day draw at Anfield in 2011, and he was also part of the team which beat Manchester United 3-2 at Old Trafford five days later.
However, Henley’s rise to prominence was countered by Rovers' relegation from the Premier League at the end of the 2011/12 season.
He added: “That year was so bitter-sweet for me.
“Obviously coming through and playing in the Premier League as a 17-year-old, I almost look back at it as a bigger achievement now than I felt at the time.
“It really was a roller-coaster for me. The highs of being able to stand on my own on the biggest stage in English football, then obviously for the club to get relegated in the same year was tough, but those games, especially the Liverpool game – making my full debut – and then to go on and beat Manchester United at Old Trafford, is something I’ll never forget and can’t imagine happening again anytime soon.”
Henley finished with eight appearances in the Premier League season, but his progress has been stunted ever since by injury.
His 28 appearances in 2015/16 was his most productive in a Rovers shirt, and he told the club’s official website: “For me, the only regret is that the injuries have hampered my chances of really making a big impact on the team, especially in the last two to three years where I’ve had my hamstring problems, but that’s football and it happens.
“I’m just going to leave thankful for all the good times and the good memories I had and not think about the injuries and problems.
“Now’s the time for me to reset and see which direction I want to head in the future.
“It’s obviously coming off the back of an injury-ridden season, which is tough, so my main aim is to make sure that these problems don’t reoccur and stand me in good stead for the new season and the future.”