Accrington Stanley can today confirm that Technical Lead Willie Donachie has left the club due to ill health in his family.
Donachie, along with Academy Manager, Duncan Fearnhead, has been responsible for overseeing all age groups from Under-9s-18s since 2017; but the 71-year-old knows the youth set-up is in a 'fantastic' place.
The former Scotland international, who won the 1995 FA Cup with Everton, brought a wealth of experience from a 22-year playing career including spells at Manchester City, Burnley and Oldham Athletic.
He also played in the USA and then managed Millwall, Antigua and Barbuda, Temecula FC, and Montserrat.
Donachie said: "Firstly I would like to thank Paul Lodge and Duncan for employing me in the first place and John Coleman and all his staff who I have got to know and who are really good people.
"I have been here for five years and Duncan has done a fantastic job, the Academy is better in every area. The coaching has improved greatly and the administration and analysis has really grown.
"Ash Hoskin also deserves a lot of credit for his recruitment, the standard of player the club is now attracting is amazing.
"When I came hardly any youth team players were making the breakthrough into the first team and now I can see six or seven being professional first team players at Accrington Stanley which is massively important for a club like this.
"I have loved the job. I have always said football is a great job. It's not work, you can't class it as that, as it's something I enjoy, it's just football.
"This is a great club. Everyone is ambitious but we have our feet on the ground, people matter which is how football should be.
"Everyone at the Academy does an unbelievable job, we have kids here who have moved on to Premier League clubs, going to the very top.
"And we have players who can make the move into our first team.
"Working through all the different age groups has been interesting. I love working with the young ones as they are so enthusiastic, they have no fear.
"Then the teenagers and that's a different kettle of fish! The Under-18s are young men and it's been interesting working with every stage of their development.
"I want to look in a few years and see the players here now fulfilling their potential.
"Whether it's playing for Accrington Stanley or still playing football at whatever level in their 30s. They show they have learnt to love the game and enjoy it and then they can take their experience into the next generation.
"I am sad to leave but it's due to health reasons in my family. Hopefully I will be back for some games to see the next generation play at the Wham Stadium."
Duncan Fearnhead added: "Willie's departure from Accrington Stanley marks the end of an era filled with invaluable contributions to our Academy, players, and staff.
"He has been an extraordinary mentor, leaving a lasting impact on me, both personally and professionally. I can't thank him enough for the help that he has given me over the past few years.
"Willie's incredible work with players across various age groups has been nothing short of remarkable, supporting young players such as Ross Sykes who have gone on to begin successful careers.
"His dedication and expertise will forever be valued, as he has truly left a mark on our Academy's progress and development."
Everyone at the club wishes Willie all the very best for the future.