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Friday 28th January v. Cliftonville (home) - Danske Bank Premiership - k.o: 7:45pm

Cliftonville Match Preview

Jude Winchester leaves United
Uploaded Thursday, 13th Jan, 2022 at 17:30

BALLYMENA United can confirm that Jude Winchester has moved to Crusaders following talks with the player.
The agreement with Crusaders means he can join with immediate effect.
The midfielder played 104 times for the Sky Blues, scoring 14 goals including a memorable finish at home to NSI Runavik in the Europa league, helping the club to progress for their first time in a European competition.
In an open and personal statement to supporters, Jude emphasised that the decision to leave was not one taken lightly, and was heavily influenced on matters outside of football, "This is a decision that I've taken in consultation with the club and my family, and wasn't one taken lightly. Over the past year or so, whilst on the pitch things have been going great, off the pitch I've been struggling with my mental health and it got to the stage where I felt I had to sit down with my family and with David and have a full conversation about it. David made me an offer to stay, it was a brilliant offer, which others would have bitten his hand off and in a different circumstance I wouldn't have thought twice, but for reasons off the pitch I couldn't agree to a deal. For me and my family it was best that for my career and mental health that I could work closer to Belfast and allow me to be at home more. We had long chats over the last couple of weeks about what’s best for Ballymena United and for me, and the conclusion was that I move on now.
I want to be very clear, David is one of the best people I have ever met, not just in football but in life. Being around him and getting to know him personally has been unbelievable. He and Ballymena United as a club, the staff, board and fans have treated me so well. I would go as far to say I haven't been treated so well elsewhere. I am sorry that it has ended the way it has but for me right now there is more important stuff than football, but this decision still enables me to continue playing so I hope the supporters understand. I haven't made this decision over the course of one night, or because of contract offers - this has been going on for a year where I haven't been myself and this is something that I have to do for me and my family. I will always treasure the highs - scoring in Europe, challenging for the league and Irish Cup, those days and nights where the Showgrounds was buzzing and am proud that I hit a century of appearances recently, giving my all in every game for the club and supporters."
Manager David Jeffrey added, "this is ultimately one of those occasions where we found ourselves in a situation of needing to think what was best for the club and the player. Obviously Jude had made it clear that despite a substantial offer on the table that he wasn't looking to stay beyond this season. There were other issues and circumstances that we had to be open and receptive to that's personal to Jude, and he’s been very honest about these himself. Through our talks with Jude we explored the best ways to support him, but also he recognised that there's a responsibility on us to look after the club too. Ultimately we reached an agreement with Crusaders to allow him to move to them earlier in the hope that him being closer to home is a greater help to him and his family. We thank Jude for his contribution during his time here, he is wonderfully talented as we got to see over the past three and a half years and we give him every best wish not just for his career but predominantly to him as a person and for his family too."
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