Around a year ago AFC Bournemouth announced that former captain Simon Francis had been released from the club.
He was one of three mainstays of the Cherries team to be released (Andrew Surman and Charlie Daniels the others), who had rised up through the ranks from the third tier of English football, to the elite stage of the Premier League.
Francis joined the club in November 2011 and went on to make 324 appearances in all competitions, playing under former managers Lee Bradbury, Paul Groves and Eddie Howe.
As a right-back, he won promotion from League One in 2013 and won the Championship in 2015. Rising through three tiers of English football with just one club.
During the 2015/16 season, he began to adapt his game to a more central role and also took the captaincy over from Tommy Elphick.
The 35-year-old was out-of-contract at Dean Court following the end of the prolonged 2019/20 season due to the coronavirus pandemic and had also struggled to return to fitness following an injury.
Unlike the departures of Surman and Daniels, which felt a slight uneasy, Francis was content with the decision and has since revealed that he had all but made up his mind to retire from professional football.
The Cherries have since announced that Francis has been named as the assistant first-team technical director under AFC Bournemouth first-team technical director Richard Hughes.
Speaking to the Daily Echo, Francis said…
“…I’d kind of made my mind up the moment I was released from the football club, the moment I’d had the conversation with Jason (Tindall).
“I almost went into that meeting saying to myself, okay, if there isn’t a contract for me on the playing side, I think I’m going to call it a day…”
“…I’d love to have stayed on in a playing capacity, just to be in and around the lads in the changing room to help us try and get promotion last season, but that obviously wasn’t the case. And then it was almost as soon as I came out of there I rang Richard (Hughes) and said, look, I want to come and work for the football club, I want to do the recruitment side of it.
“I’ve got to say, I didn’t tell my agent that for about three to four weeks! He was still looking for clubs for me, but I kind of knew the phone wasn’t going to ring, I knew how much of an impact the pandemic had had.
“To be out of contract and to be injured at my age, I know I wasn’t going to be a huge sell to a lot of clubs. So I’d sort of made my mind up really and I was absolutely fine with it…”
I think this is bloody great. Franno has always come across as intelligent and measured in his approach and I felt he was destined for some kind of future in the game beyond his playing days. Great to have him around and shows at least Parker is welcome to working with a club intent in retaining some of its identity. – Join the conversation, click here.