I League club Bengaluru FC's first and only coach (so far) Ashley Westwood has left the club with 'mutual consent'.
Westwood, who was appointed when the club was created three years ago, was a fan favourite and a vital part of the immense success in their fledgling history.
Westwood led the club to an I-League title in their very first year, then triumphed in the Federation cup in his second season before capping his reign with another I-League triumph in 2016.
Bengaluru are also in the AFC Cup quarterfinals, a historic achievement for the JSW-owned club.
When asked about his feelings on parting ways with a club he has become synonymous with, Westwood simply told Scoopwhoop: "Sad times."
The statement issued by club and manager reads such:
Interestingly, the club's website crashed as soon as the news came out, perhaps an indication of the impact he has had on the club and the league.
There were messages of support from fans as well:
Can't thank Ashley enough for everything he's done in the last 3 years. We wouldn't be where we are if it weren't for him #OneAshleyWestwood— Amreen (@goonergurl20) May 31, 2016
From whoever I've talked to on the ground, Ashley Westwood has been miles ahead of the average coaching standard in India. #thankyouashley— Akarsh Sharma (@Akarsh_Official) May 31, 2016
Forever in your debt Ashley Westwood.Forever we're Westwood's Blue Army!#ThankYouAshley— Vijay.R.B (@TheBaronVj) May 31, 2016
You made us dream when no one even knew we existed. The story cannot even begin without you. FOREVER IN YOUR DEBT!#ThankYouAshley— West Block Blues (@WestBlockBlues) May 31, 2016
There has been interest in Westwood, mainly from the Singapore national team, but it is still not clear which team he will take on next.
The former Manchester United academy player has been lauded for honing Indian talent. Apart from established players like Sunil Chhetri, Westwood worked with players like Eugeneson Lyngdoh, Thoi Singh, Rino Anto, Malsawmzuala, Daniel Lalhimpuia and Indian football's future star-in-the-making Udanta Singh.
There are reports that Westwood was also in the running for the India head coach's role, before Stephen Constantine was appointed for a second stint.
As of now, it seems Indian football has lost one of its most disciplined and complete coaches -- but there is no doubt that other clubs will be hovering for his signature as well.
Feature image source: Bengaluru FC