Troy Deeney said leaving Premier League side Watford after 11 years felt like losing a family member after he sealed a move to boyhood team Birmingham City in the second-tier Championship on a two-year deal.
The 33-year-old, who had a year left on his contract, leaves as Watford's top scorer with 140 goals in over 400 appearances, helping them achieve promotion to the Premier League twice.
"It's weird being asked to express my feelings for Watford and the emotions attached to leaving this wonderful place. I feel sadness and a loss similar to losing a family member," Deeney said in a video message on the club website https://www.watfordfc.com/video/alternative-view-1/troy-deeney-a-message-to-the-fans#play.
"I feel excitement about my new journey and what's to come in the future.
"Most of all I feel tremendous pride at what I've achieved ... and the friendships and connections we've made – the people, staff, fans. Watford has literally changed my life."
Deeney, who became Watford's captain ahead of the 2014-15 campaign, led the club back to the Premier League that season with 21 goals and 10 assists.
The club spent five seasons in the top flight before dropping into the Championship at the end of the 2019-20 campaign but bounced back up a year later.
"Through the many highs and the occasional lows, Troy Deeney's name has been inextricably linked for 11 years with Watford," club chairman and CEO Scott Duxbury said.
"I believe we have been good for him and I know he has been incredibly good for us."
(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)