Fleetwood legend Nathan Pond departs for Salford City
Fleetwood Town's record appearance holder Nathan Pond has left the club to sign for big-spending National League outfit Salford City.
The 33-year-old defender, who achieved six promotions during his 16 seasons as a Fleetwood player, has been at the League One club since their North West Counties days in 2003.
He finished the season on 498 appearances, meaning he won’t be able to reach that 500-game milestone.
The club opted to extend his deal by another year at the end of the season, but he has since signed for Salford on a two-year contract for an undisclosed fee.
Upon his departure, Pond penned an open message to the Fleetwood supporters.
"Today brings an end to a 15-year association for me at Fleetwood Town – and what a 15 years it’s been," he said.
"I still remember my debut at St Helens Town, where we lost 3-0 in front of 81 supporters. Back then I could never have imagined in my wildest dreams the journey that both myself and the football club would go on.
"I’ve enjoyed six promotions, playing in seven different divisions and playing at Wembley, when we were promoted to League One back in 2014.
"I’ve played under six managers, Tony Greenwood, Micky Mellon, Graham Alexander, Steven Pressley, Uwe Rosler and John Sheridan, as well as playing with hundreds of players.
"Whilst a lot of faces have changed inside the dressing room, some haven’t outside. I’d like to thank the staff behind the scenes at the football club – especially the chairman Andy Pilley for his support over the years.
"My next challenge at Salford City is one that I am excited about. Salford are a club – much like Fleetwood – who are highly ambitious and are desperate to get into the Football League like we were all those years ago. I’m hoping I can add another promotion to my CV!
"My final message is to the supporters, who have backed me throughout my career at Highbury. It has been an honour to wear the shirt 498 times and represent the club, the town and the fans. I wish the club nothing but success for the future especially under the new manager next season."
Pond’s new manager will be former Cod Army boss Graham Alexander, who recently took over the National League North champions following the departures of Anthony Johnson and Bernard Morley.
Alexander managed Fleetwood from 2012 to 2015, guiding them to League One via the play-offs during the 2013/14 campaign.
Salford are part-owned by Gary and Phil Neville, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt - dubbed the ‘class of ‘92’.
Pond made 36 appearances in all competitions for Fleetwood last season.
He scored 51 goals during his time at the club
Fleetwood chairman Andy Pilley added: “First of all, I would like to say it will feel really strange not to have Pondy around the club.
"I have been here for the best part of 15 years and he is part of the fabric of this football club.
"It is just extraordinary and for him to play that amount of games is remarkable and an incredible achievement.
"What is extra-special is that I don't think this will ever happen again in the history of football, for someone to play in seven different levels for a particular football club, and that what Nathan has achieved.
“It is sad news for the club as he is a big part of what we are, but it is also good news for him and his family and we have to respect that and shake hands and wish him all the best."
It has also been confirmed Fleetwood will travel to Salford for a pre-season friendly on Friday, July 6 (7:30pm kick off).