By Chris Slavin
Callum Kennedy believes it's the right time to finally end his Wimbledon career after three separate spells here that included a promotion and helping to keep the club in League One.
Since originally signing here in 2013, Callum has spent every season apart from one at AFC Wimbledon and he reckons that the highs and lows will stand him in good stead for the rest of his career.
"To be honest with you, I think this will be the last time," said Callum. "I don't think I will be coming back for a fourth or fifth time. It seems an appropriate time to move on with the club being safe in League One. Hopefully, the club can go on to do better things. I think the manager has got big plans for next season and hopefully the club can start pushing up towards the other end of the table to continue the club's amazing story. I'm really looking forward to seeing the new stadium. I will always keep my eyes peeled for the results and try to come back and watch a match."
Neal Ardley referred to Callum as one of the most popular characters in his squad and that is certainly reflected in the video compilation below. Take a look at some of Callum's best moments from the training ground!
Callum said that he's proud to have represented a fans club for so long and to have played a part in the AFC Wimbledon story.
"You get told about certain things at this club when you come here, but you maybe just think at first that it's not too different to other clubs, but then you start to find out about the story," added Callum. "You find out about the people involved in the club, including the volunteers who give up their time and effort for nothing. When you go to functions and events you hear from people about how much they care about the club and how much they care about the players who represent it. It's very rare in football. I know if the team is not performing you hear moans and groans, but the general consensus is that the fans want the players to do their best and they know that everyone is trying their hardest. They treat you with respect. They love their club and a lot of players who come to this club end up loving this club, I certainly do. It's the best feeling I've had at a club in my career.
"I have nothing in the pipeline as I wasn't sure what was going to happen at the end of the season. It's just going to be a case of getting on the phone and seeing if I can get a club somewhere else. Even though I only played a bit-part this season, I am proud that I played in the last four games and helped the club to stay up. After all that hard work to get the club up from League Two, we were determined to keep the club in League One. We had worked so hard to get into this league. To be able to give the fans what they deserve means a lot. They've worked so hard to get the club where it is now, to right the wrongs that happened all those years ago."
Callum experienced so many ups and downs during his Wimbledon career, most notably during the 2015/16 season, a promotion campaign that ended with glory at Wembley after the personal heartache of losing his father. The 28-year-old left-back is thankful for the support he received from staff, players and supporters during his time at Wimbledon.
"It was a very poignant period in my life," added Callum. "When I talk about it to this day, it's hard to put into words how special that season was. A lot of friendships and bonds were created, both on and off the pitch. I was grateful for the support I received during that time. Our connection with the fans during the final months of the season, I felt that nothing could stop us. It was definitely the best moment of my career. Not just one day, but the build-up to it all. Personally, I had a tough time in that season, but in a way that made the final even sweeter. I made some unbelievable friendships during that season.
"It's disappointing to be leaving because I love the club, but at the same time, it's all good. I had a chat with the manager and I'm looking forward to moving on now and finding another club. It has been a rollercoaster for me, but a very positive experience. I have come on tenfold, not just as a footballer, but as a person as well. Physically and mentally, I've changed completely in the last five years. I'm very thankful to the club and the fans. They've definitely made me feel better than at any other club I've been at. It's definitely a club close to my heart. When I finish my career, I will always look back on my time here with fondness.
"With me being let go by the club and getting chances to come back and redeem myself, they are experiences that have made me a better person. I addressed certain things and made changes in my own personal make-up. The club has played a part in that and I've had some unbelievable influences. Players including Barry Fuller and Robbo have really helped me, they've had a profound influence on my career in terms of training and how to approach the day to day stuff. I've definitely shown that I can bounce back in the last five years. I'm at a good stage of my career and I feel in the best frame of mind that I've ever been in. It's a good time to look forward in my career now."
All at AFC Wimbledon wish Callum well in his future career.