New Chelsea boss Graham Potter has written an open letter to Brighton fans explaining his decision to leave the south coast club for west London.
Chelsea on Thursday announced the appointment of Potter as their new head coach on a five-year deal after the Blues decided to sack Thomas Tuchel.
Potter took charge of Brighton in 2019 after leaving Swansea – and guided the Seagulls to ninth place last season – which was their best-ever top finish in club history while they finished this season after their first six games be in fourth place.
The Englishman started his managerial career in Sweden with Östersunds, where he took them from the fourth tier to the top flight for the first time ever and also took them to the Europa League after winning the domestic Svenska Cupen.
“It has been a wonderful three years with a life changing club and I would like to take a moment to say goodbye to all of you who have made this such a special time of my career,” Potter said in an open letter on Brighton’s website.
“I’m saying goodbye to a great club that will always mean so much to me and my family. For some I realize that the change that is so sudden in football is difficult to accept.
“I may not be able to persuade you all to forgive me for my departure – but I would at least like to take the opportunity to say thank you. All good clubs need great owners and great fans.
“Brighton & Hove Albion have both. I will appreciate the relationships I have built in all aspects of the club. My players have done everything. My employees gave their all. The focus was on the Albion fans.
“Every game day at the Amex, the bond with the team was strong. When we played away, they came by the thousands to cheer us on. I know what you went through to finally see your club in a modern stadium and thrive in the Premier League.
“I felt it every time I was on the sidelines. For those of you who have spoken when I was in town or further afield – and the many who have written to me – all of these connections meant a lot.
“Their personal stories of following the club – from parents and grandparents who were fans – helped me understand what makes Albion so special. I hope you will understand that at this point in my career I felt I had to take a new opportunity.
“I would like to thank Tony Bloom, Paul Barber and the directors for the opportunity they gave me three years ago and for the unwavering support that has come with it. Thanks also to Dan Ashworth and David Weir, two first-class technical directors.
“To the staff at the stadium and training ground: you all impressed me with the pride you have in your work. You have supported the club and you have also supported me in some difficult times in my personal life.
“Brighton & Hove Albion is a club full of good people working together in the right way to get things done. We shared some brilliant moments. The 3-0 win against Tottenham Hotspur in my first season stands out.
“So did the 2-1 win over Arsenal after lockdown. It was an amazing afternoon, especially considering what many had been through over the previous months. My only wish was that our supporters would have been there to enjoy this with us.
“When the stadiums were partially opened, we witnessed an incredible atmosphere in the 3-2 win over Manchester City in the last home game of the 2020/21 season.
“I know many of you enjoyed the 4-0 win over Manchester United last season. We ended the season with a 3-1 win against West Ham on the final day of the game to seal a record points tally for the club and their all-time highest league position. Those are great memories.
“The Albion gave me that and more. I feel like I’m a better person and a better manager for the experience I’ve had here. Not every team selection or decision has been perfect.
“But the club has created an environment where you can make mistakes, learn from them and then improve. I’ve always tried to act with integrity and be a good person. Those are values I hold dear, and I know the Albion do too.
“What turned out to be my last game against Leicester City last Sunday was a good ending. I didn’t know then that it would be the end but looking back we played so well.
“There were so many positives at the club. The last few days have been an unexpected hurricane. Leaving the training ground last time was a poignant moment. Not only for me, but also for Billy, Björn, Kyle, Bruno and Ben.
“Albion fans know the club is in safe hands with Tony, Paul and David. To my successor, whoever that may be, I would like to say congratulations. You’ll be working for a great club with a fantastic squad backed by a great chairman and board.
“The squad is playing at a high level and is getting better. Above all, the fans will support the team at home and away. To everyone at Brighton & Hove Albion: Thank you. It has been my pleasure and honor to serve the club for the past three years. I wish you every success for the future.’
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