Tony Mowbray has paid tribute to Danny Graham after the striker's four-and-a-half year stay at Ewood Park came to an end.
Following the revealing of the retained list earlier today, Graham was one of five players notified that their contracts wouldn't be extended following the end of the 2019-20 campaign.
Graham, Richie Smallwood, Dominic Samuel, Jayson Leutwiler and Sam Hart have all been informed that they will not be offered new contracts by the club, whilst Tosin Adarabioyo and Christian Walton have now returned to Manchester City and Brighton & Hove Albion respectively after spending the season on loan with Rovers.
The 34-year-old, who made his 600th career appearance in Wednesday’s final league fixture away to Luton Town, initially joined Rovers on loan in January 2016, before putting pen-to-paper on a permanent deal after scoring seven goals in 18 games.
A popular player both on and off the pitch, the striker went on to become a firm favourite and fantastic servant to the club, scoring 57 goals in 191 appearances, as well as winning Rovers’ Player of the Year award in 2018-19.
And Mowbray says the decision to allow the experienced frontman was a tough call, but feels it's the best move for all parties, as he explained to iFollow Rovers.
“It’s always difficult to let almost guaranteed goals go," Mowbray admitted.
“I’ve said to Dan that he wants to enjoy the end of his football career and I genuinely don’t think he’d enjoy being a bit-part player for us.
“He’s a figurehead, a top guy, a top man, and he needs to feel like he’s the man. He needs to stick the number nine on his back and go and score goals.
“That’s what I think, I think he should go somewhere and score loads of goals for a couple of years.
The boss joked: "I don’t even mind if he gets into the Championship and scores against us, just as long as we win 5-1!
“There’s no agendas at all. I want to him to enjoy his football, because with every year that passes, the end of his career is coming.
“Whether it’s this year, next year, the year after, Danny feels that he can play for at least another two years if he keeps himself fit.
“I hope he goes and scores another 50 goals, and I don’t say that lightly.
“Danny’s a huge credit to himself and this football club during his time here, and I just hope he can go and enjoy his football before his career finishes.”