Stephen Gleeson admits he has mixed emotions following his decision to leave MK Dons after five years with the Club.
. mkstadiumGleeson, 25, signed a two-year deal with Sky Bet Championship Birmingham City on Monday after deciding not to extend his stay at
The Irish midfielder, who made over 200 appearances during his time with the Dons, says he is leaving Milton Keynes with a heavy heart.
Speaking exclusively to mkdons.com, he said: “It’s been a really difficult three weeks. I do have mixed emotions because on one hand I’m so excited about the challenge ahead but on the other hand I’m really sad leaving a club that, for the last five years, has been a home.
“Ever since I moved to MK, the Club have made me and my family so welcome and me and my missus class Milton Keynes as a second home. We’ve been here for five years and since day one people we’ve met have been brilliant with the both of us.
Gleeson continued: “Three out of the last four seasons I’ve turned down opportunities to leave but this one, at this point in time, felt right. This is an opportunity, to play in the Championship, I couldn’t turn down. I really wanted to do it with Milton Keynes but this year it was right to move on.”
The tenacious midfielder initially joined the Dons on loan from Wolverhampton Wanderers in March 2009 before making the move permanent the following summer.
Developing a strong relationship with team-mates, colleagues and fans on his way to making 206 appearances for the Club, Gleeson admits waving goodbye to many ‘friends for life’ will be the hardest thing to deal with.
“I’ve met some really lovely people and I’ve got friends there for life; from the management to the players, from the physios to the kit team, from everyone in the offices to the fans. That’s the best thing I’m going to take from my time.
“I’d especially like to thank the gaffer for all he has done for me. He’s been like a father figure to me and he is somebody who I will always keep in touch with and never hesitate to pick up the phone too. The same goes for Damo, as well.”
During his time at MK1, Gleeson endured numerous highs and lows – from scoring the opening goal in the historic 2-1 victory over AFC Wimbledon to suffering a broken foot which ruled him out for three months of the 2012/13 season.
The former Republic of Ireland international wants Dons supporters to remember him for those good times, in particular that 30-yard strike at
back in December 2012.
“Hopefully I can be remembered for the good times I’ve had here. The past six months were a difficult time for me as I had a lot going on away from football.
“On the pitch there have been so many good memories. I never dreamt I’d play over 200 times for the club when I first signed and I think everyone will remember that goal (against AFC Wimbledon).
“To be named vice-captain was a great honour too and they are the things I remember and hope to be remembered for.”
Gleeson’s attention now, though, turns to his new challenge with Birmingham City.
“I spoke to Lee Clark last week and straight away he put to bed any doubts that they’re going to be struggling again next year.
“I’m confident I can go there and put my mark on the team next season. I’m ambitious as well so I’ll be doing everything in my power to push them on.”
He concluded: “I honestly think I’m still not done with Milton Keynes. I still think there’s a chance, in the future, that I can come if I’m still welcome but my immediate future is with Birmingham. I’m sure me and the Club will cross paths again one day.”