Long-serving winger JJ O’Donnell has become the latest employee to be sacked by Gateshead.
The former Luton Town player joined the Heed on an initial one-month loan deal in January 2014, before making the move permanent during the following summer.
O’Donnell became a cult hero at the International Stadium when he scored the third goal in Gateshead’s 3-1 win over Grimsby Town in the National League play-off semi-final second-leg in May 2014.
Since then he spent two years battling sesamoiditis – a condition that causes an inflammation the bones on the bottom of the foot.
After initially being diagnosed in 2015, he made his long-awaited comeback in March 2017 and has been in and around the Gateshead first-team ever since then.
As well as being a member of the squad, he has also carried out kit-man duties and has become a popular figure around the International Stadium.
However, his time at the club came to an end with an email from Gateshead owner Dr Ranjan Varghese on Monday afternoon
Speaking to the Echo, O’Donnell said “It was emotional on Saturday after the Barrow game and I had tears in my eyes when I walked off the pitch, because it felt like the end.
“I came up initially on loan, but now I call the place home.
“I had some incredible times; had some incredible moments and it’s been the happiest time I have had in football
“I don’t think the current situation will be resolved, so it looks like the end of my time at a club I love.
O’Donnell has enjoyed many special times during his six-year stay with Gateshead and has forged a strong bond with the club’s supporters.
His departure will be a further blow to the Heed Army as their club’s future continues to be the cause of much speculation.
O’Donnell hailed the club’s supporters and admitted that they were the inspiration behind his comeback from sesamoiditis.
He said “That goal against Grimsby, the pitch invasion and getting to Wembley was incredible
“I played alongside some great people, including the current manager and that stands out.
“I have people at the club that I now call friends and then there are the supporters.
“If it wasn’t for the supporters I wouldn’t be back on the pitch.
“Getting back to playing was for them.
“These people are the reason I am still playing, and they are like a family to me.
“There are a lot of great people here and people that I care about.
“The Gateshead supporters are friends to me, and it will always be that way.”
His departure means that manager Ben Clark, club captain Scott Barrow and press officer Dominic Scurr are the club’s only full-time employees
However, Barrow’s contract runs out at the end of June.
Sports Injury Therapist Annie Davis has also been sacked by the club and received an email on Monday lunchtime.
Davis has been at Gateshead for the last five years and has worked with the club’s first-team and under-19s players during her time at the club.