Peter Thompson admits it will be a “strange experience” when he dons the Linfield jersey for the last time on Saturday.
Thompson will play his final game for the club at Shamrock Park after it was confirmed that he will not be offered a new contract.
The 30-year-old’s farewell appearance against Portadown will bring the curtain down on a stellar 13-year association with Linfield.
Thompson scored 230 goals – including 15 hat-tricks – in 417 games for the Blues during two spells with the club.
The former Northern Ireland international – who earned eight caps – claimed 17 winners’ medals during his time at Windsor Park, including six league and Irish Cup doubles.
There was also the all-Ireland Setanta Sports Cup in 2005, and the famous ‘Clean Sweep’ the next season when Linfield won every domestic honour going – aided by 48 goals in 58 appearances from Thompson.
The striker was only told yesterday that he would not be offered a new contract, but is relaxed about the prospect of finally leaving the club he joined as a teenager.
“Warren (Feeney) spoke to me today and it was all done professionally. They did it the right way which is nice,” Thompson said.
“I always had a feeling this could be my last season, and the end comes for every player. Look at some of the players who have left Linfield over the years, many of them legends.
“I have played in some great teams with some great players, and I just feel grateful to have been involved in a hugely successful Linfield team.
“I won a lot of trophies and have some great memories to take away with me. Winning six doubles in seven years was special, as was the Clean Sweep. I don’t think I fully appreciated what we were achieving over those years. I was young and just thought it would last forever.
“Only now do I look back and appreciate how big an achievement that was.”
Looking ahead to his final appearance on Saturday, Thompson said: “It will be emotional, and strange.
“I haven’t had much time to think about it. I just want to enjoy Saturday and soak it all in.”
Thompson insists he won’t be rushed into deciding his next move.
“I never take anything for granted, so we will see what happens,” he added.
“You never know where I will end up. But if there are options there I will speak with everyone interested and take it from there.”
Blues boss Warren Feeney praised Thompson’s contribution to Linfield.
“Peter has sealed his place among the greats of Linfield Football Club – no doubt about it,” Feeney said.
“In years to come, our supporters will talk of Bambrick, Milburn, McGaughey, Dickson, Pavis, Ferguson and Thompson.”
Linfield Vice-Chairman Billy Kennedy added: “We thank Peter for the sterling contribution he has made towards the good of Linfield and wish him every success in his future role in the game.”