CRAIG Hignett says he left Hartlepool United to be Number 2 at Middlesbrough with the full support of Pools boss Colin Cooper.
The 44-year-old admitted it was a tough decision to leave the Sky Bet League Two club after just nine months, but said the chance to become the assistant to Aitor Karanka in the Championship was too good to turn down.
Hignett says he was first made aware of Boro’s interest after the 2-0 defeat to Northampton Town on Saturday, February 22, and met with Karanka the following Tuesday.
Despite making his mind up the day after, Hignett was on the bench in Saturday’s 3-0 home win over Torquay United, as the deal had yet to be confirmed.
“It was a tough decision to go, a really tough decision, and a wrench to leave Coops,” said the former Boro, Blackburn and Barnsley forward.
“But at the end of the day, it was too good an opportunity to turn down.
“I have left on fantastic terms with Colin. He understood the situation completely and I have his full support.
“Obviously, he was disappointed but he understands the opportunity that I have been given. I have met some fantastic people at the club and I will miss them.
“It has only been a short time but I loved every second, it has been fantastic, and I can’t thank them enough – but I’m sure they will go on.”
Spaniard Karanka had been searching for an assistant since taking over at Boro in October.
Hignett (left)added: “It was quite quick but because it was late in the day, I wanted to do the game on Saturday.
“It wasn’t all sorted by then anyway. The clubs were going backwards and forwards trying to sort out the notice period.
“I didn’t get the chance to say goodbye to the players at the game but I’ve had the chance since through text messages and speaking to a lot of them.”
He added that Pools are fortunate to have ex-Boro defender Cooper as their manager.
“They are lucky to have Colin. I have no doubt at all he will go on to bigger things in his managerial career.
“I think he will have a think about who he brings in. He won’t rush into it – whether he does it now or at the end of the season.
“The way Colin is, he will leave no stone unturned, and know exactly what he wants.”