After more than five years and 289 appearances, Lee Worgan has left the Maidstone United to take up a player/coaching role with Dover Athletic.
Worgan made his Stones debut in August 2013, after the club’s promotion to the Isthmian Premier, and he went on to play in every league, FA Cup and FA Trophy game since.
His penalty save in the National League South promotion final in May 2016 was a stand out moment in the club’s recent history and with it came the return to non-league’s top flight.
Club chief executive Bill Williams said: “Lee has been a wonderful servant of the club.
“He’s played a massive role in getting us to the level of football we’re at and given many hours of pleasure to our supporters over the past five or so years.
“Because of that loyal service, the club have reluctantly agreed to release him.
“The offer he’s had to join Dover’s management team provides security for his family as they prepare for the arrival of their firstborn and he was adamant he wanted start a new life in a coaching capacity.
“He leaves with our blessing and best wishes, and remains a good friend of the club.”
Worgan, who spent five years at Maidstone, said: “I was made aware of Dover’s interest in terms of offering me a player-coach role, something I’ve been interested in doing for a long time.
“It was an offer that with my family situation, with Laura, my wife, being pregnant, it makes sense for me to make the decision to move on.
“It’s not a decision I’ve made lightly or easily but it’s been a very amicable split.
“I’ve had a lot of amazing memories at Maidstone but sometimes you have to put your family first.
“Basically they offered me a long-term deal that Maidstone couldn’t quite get to in terms of length and a pathway I’ve always wanted to take.
“It’s a player-coach role so I’ll be taking over the goalkeeping at a full-time club, a professional club.
“It’s an opportunity that with my family situation and everything else, I couldn’t turn down.
“Mitch Walker’s the No.1. This is the first time in my life I’m making a decision based on what’s best for my family life rather than my football.
“Before, my football’s always made the decision and I’ve always wanted to be the No.1.
“But I’m going to a football club where we’ve got a very good No.1 in place and I’m going to go and work with him and push him as well.
“Fingers crossed Mitch does really well because I’m going there to work with him as a coach.
“If the opportunity comes to play then brilliant, I’ll take that with both hands and enjoy it, but Mitch is the No.1.
“I’ll be there challenging him and trying to improve him as well.”
Club captain Worgan made 289 appearances after joining Maidstone from Tonbridge in 2013.
He didn’t miss a league game in all that time, reeling off 247 consecutive appearances as United went from the Ryman Premier Division to the National League.
Leaving the club was never going to be easy.
He said: “It’s been a massive part of me and my family’s life and I hope everyone understands that it’s not been an easy decision.
“It’s been brilliant and I’ve loved every second of it but nothing and no one is eternal and it’s nice for me to walk away and leave the club in the National League.
“I’ve always said I wanted to leave the club in a better place than I found it and I just hope I’ve played a small part in doing that.
“It’s one of those decisions you never want to have to take.
“You don’t really want to walk away from something I was part of there but if I’m speaking truthfully it was getting to a point where it might have been time for me to look and do something different.
“I wanted to do it amicably. I’ve had a long chat with the gaffer, with Bill Williams and Terry Casey. I’ve got a lot of time for all three of them.
“Harry Wheeler’s doing a very good job, I’ve liked the training methods, I’ve liked the direction they’re trying to take it.
“This move is just down to circumstances.
“I’d like to go on record and say the club were excellent with the transfer, the gaffer in particular has been brilliant ever since he came in.
“He’s been excellent, I’ve got a lot of respect for him and his coaching team and I wish them every success in the future.
“I’m sure they’ll go on to and be very successful.”
Worgan will be replaced at Maidstone by Grant Smith, who has initially signed until the end of 2018.
For more from Dover Athletic please visit their website here