Rovers and Danny Graham are to part ways after four-and-a-half ‘unforgettable’ years at Ewood Park.

The striker is one of five players not to be offered a new deal by the club as Tony Mowbray shapes his squad ahead of the 2020/21 campaign. The only out of contract player to be in discussions over an extended stay is Stewart Downing, with Jayson Leutwiler, Sam Hart, Richie Smallwood and Dominic Samuel all departing.

Graham has become a huge figure, on and off the pitch, since first joining on loan in January 2016 and he leaves having scored 57 goals in 191 appearances.

“I want to say thank you for taking a gamble on me when my career was at a low point,” he said.

“I didn’t know where my football career was going at that point, and to come to Blackburn and find a home and do so well and have a special bond with all the players and staff and fans, has been beyond my wildest dreams.

“The time is right for me to move on and the club to push on in what hopefully will be a return to the Premier League.”

Graham, who made his 600th career appearance in Wednesday’s final league fixture away to Luton Town, signed for Rovers on loan from Sunderland in January 2016, before putting pen-to-paper on a permanent deal after scoring seven goals in 18 games.

He was also named player of the year in 2018/19 and had indicated he could have seen himself seeing out his career with Rovers, but admits the time is right for both him, and the club, to move in different directions.

The striker feels he has ‘two or three more years’ left of his playing career, with his absence from the matchday squad in the final home game of the season ending a run of 108 consecutive appearances on the teamsheet.

“It’s emotional,” he added. “It’s been a great time.

“I had a conversation with the gaffer and he told me where he was going with the football club and I’m fine with that. It was nice to have a chat and talk about the time we have had together and look back with fond memories.

“That’s the most important thing. This club is moving forward and it doesn’t stand still for any player, so the time was always going to come and it feels as though it’s the right time now.”

Graham has often stated how he rediscovered his love for the game after a difficult spell with Sunderland following a £5m move.

But at Rovers he found a home, and he told the club website: “Probably the best four-and-a-half years of my career. And that’s saying something considering I had 18 months with Swansea, playing week-in week-out in the Premier League.

“I feel as though I found that quite quickly into my loan spell – my love for the game again – hence why I signed permanently after the loan spell had finished. I do love the game. During lockdown, it’s probably the hardest I’ve worked in a number of years away from football, so the hunger and the drive is still there to play for another two or three seasons at least.”

He cut an emotional figure as the left the pitch at Kenilworth Road, his assist for Sam Gallagher’s goal in the 3-2 defeat his last act in Rovers colours.

A disappointment of the behind closed matches that the supporters, who have held Graham in great esteem, couldn’t thank him for his years of service.

“Blackburn Rovers is going to be a club that I hold close to my heart for the rest of my days. Hopefully one day this club will get back there," he said.

"I think we are making progress and that’s been proven with the points total and some of the performances this season, so if that continues, hopefully it will be sooner rather than later.”