Motherwell legend Stevie Hammell has announced his retirement from playing to become the Fir Park club’s Academy Director.
The 35-year-old will hang up his boots at the end of the month after a 20-year love affair with the Lanarkshire outfit, broken only by a two-year spell with Southend United from 2006 to 2008.
The left-back holds the post-war record for appearances for Motherwell, and played as recently as Saturday’s match against Hamilton.
That will likely be his last match, but he will be available and ready if called upon until January is out, before taking on a challenge that he is excited about despite his sadness at his playing days coming to an end.
“It’s strange, the emotions are mixed,” said Hammell. “I think if I was 40 years old and retiring then it would still be a sad day.
“But I’m also really excited about the new opportunity that the club have given me, and I’m really looking forward to getting started on that.
“It’s a great honour. I spoke to the chairman, I spoke to Alan Burrows, the manager spoke to me and Scott Leitch spoke to me, and they all really recommended that it was the perfect fit for me.
“It maybe came a little bit earlier than what I would have expected, but in football, nothing is ever perfectly timed.
“I feel I could play for longer, but an opportunity like this is something I’ve been preparing for for a number of years, it’s not something that’s just luckily landed on my lap.
“It excites me, and I believe I can go in and do a really good job.”
Hammell admits that he had to think long and hard about stepping away from the daily routine as a player, but says that the opportunity was simply too good to turn down after former teammate Leitch had vacated the post just before Christmas.
“It’s going to be a wrench to stop playing,” he said. “I love it, I can’t hide that.
“I come to training every day and enjoy it, it’s never been a chore for me or a grind. I’ve never struggled to come in, I still love it and I will miss it.
“This season has been a bit frustrating because I’ve not played as much, but that has prepared me more for going into this new role.
“No matter what age I was, I would be missing training and playing every day, and the everyday life as a footballer. With the atmosphere in this place, I’ll miss that for sure.
“It would be nice to get another game and go out on a higher note than the Hamilton game.
“I played in the game last week fully aware that it would more than likely be my last game, so to go out on that note would be disappointing, but if that’s the way it is, then fine, I will still take away a lot of good memories.
“We’ll see what the next few weeks hold between now and the end of January, but I’m ready and fully prepared.
“I haven’t taken a day off this week, so I’m ready if the manager needs me.”